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Jul 6, 2012 05:35 PM

crimson sparrow, hudson

the crimson sparrow just opened up in hudson. i heard about it because two former chefs at wd-50 opened it and spent a lot of money (6 or 7 figures) in renovations to the building. had some time, saw the online menu, and went up to hudson.

first: the location is at 746 warren street (the main street) but NOT where most of the other stores are. it's just southeast of the town green/square area, while most of the stores are between 4th and 6th it's right across from the social security building and next to an appliance store.

the front part of the restaurant is a bar, and the main room behind it is for some seating. there may also be additional seating in a back room - i couldn't tell - but since it was just myself, i said i could sit wherever they wanted. and here's where it gets interesting.

out the back door is an open air patio...with a couple large tables, some small tables, and then an eating bar - but low, NOT high - where people can sit and eat. and so, i spent my meal at this eating bar - watching the kitchen cook behind a sheet of glass. didn't even have to pay extra for this chef's table!

the food. they don't have many selections - three "large plates" (entrees), three cheese selections, a soup, an avocado with burrata and six "small plates". they're going to keep the number of dishes small which i think is good to start.
small ones are octopus, venison tartare, spanish mackerel, pork belly, ox tongue, and lamb sweetbreads. entrees were duck, scallops, and wagyu.

they started off with 2 small rolls and "cheddar butter", which tasted delicious. i overheard them say the bread was NOT baked there, but was from the local bakery down the street. maybe it was loaf? i don't know, i couldn't hear.

i had the dish of lamb sweetbreads with buckwheat, plum, dandelion and clove, which i'd never think of eating most of those (separately), but went together well and the sweetbreads were exceptional.

i got the wagyu sirloin butt heart (with sunchoke, zucchini and chanterelles). since i didn't know, i'll offer this out: the heart refers to a special area of cut and NOT the heart (though i've eaten beef heart before) and sunchoke is a vegetable which is similar to potatoes. so basically it's an upscale version of meat and potatoes and veggies.

the sunchoke didn't knock me out (though i attribute that to my taste and not how it was cooked) but i can only think of a few other times in my life that i've had beef as good as the wagyu here. i'm sure part of it was the cut of beef, but i'm equally positive that the kitchen prepared it perfectly. one of the chef/owners, ben(jamin freemole) came out and asked afterwards how the meal was. i probably gushed, the meal was *that* good.

had a drink of timm's royale, the "ice" in the drink was super infused ginger and strawberry. quite refreshing.

some other thoughts on it:

hudson has a LOT of restaurants for such a small area. i periodically go up there (from an hour south) but wonder how it can sustain so many places in the wintertime, when nyc'ers with second homes aren't coming up there. also, will the sparrow take customers from swoon or da/ba? i could easily see that happening.

it's not cheap for columbia county. my app was $14, main was $29. but if you can afford the cost, for the quality of that food? it was so easily worth it.

although the chefs are from wd-50, i didn't see any "tricks" in my meal. instead, i saw impeccably cooked and plated food. i don't particularly care about how my meal looks, but it was impressive.

i saw one family eating with their child (8 yo?) which was interesting.

they had music playing in the background which had a brooklyn-esque feel; i thought i heard the rapture, definitely MGMT. the open air area of course felt like brooklyn, but with less pollution and 15 degrees cooler.

i can't go back often because it's a bit of a distance from me. and it's only one visit...but i can easily see this becoming a "destination" restaurant for others in the hudson valley.

oh, the website is at but chunks of it are still under construction.

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  1. Thanks so much for the report. I'd been waiting to hear some impressions. Planning to try it soon and will report too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      We're planning to go for our anniversary on Aug 1 - will report back. It's a bit of a journey, but we wanted to get out of Westchester for a change. Thanks for the original write up.

    2. Thanks, bob gaj. . .we need a get away overnight or weekend (Montreal, Kingston, Hudson). Stll haven't got to Kingston or back to Montreal . . .SO and one of my friends didn't love their dinners at WD-50. How molecular is it? Can this poultry and fish eater find enough to eat on their menu?

      Sunchokes are more like winter artichokes than potatoes to me. Have the flavor of an artichoke but the consistency of a potato. Small, long, narrow.

      4 Replies
      1. re: financialdistrictresident

        fidi - it is not molecular at all. i don't know if they use meat glue, but the food i had was just cooked in a top notch fashion. that's why i said, i didn't see any tricks - they just brought out the dishes, and they looked and tasted like as they should.

        you can make a meal out of several appetizers, but it depends - do you like octopus or mackerel? they only have 3 mains options (beef, duck, scallops) at this time. i won't bring my wife (unless she wants red meat that evening) because she can't eat scallops and doesn't like duck. so i'd say to check out their menu - the PDF is online.

        thanks RE: sunchokes, i was influenced by how it was prepared - almost like a small section of mashed potatoes...

        and i haven't been back down in the city in months, i've got to get back down there...

        1. re: bob gaj

          Thanks, bob gaj.

          Love mackerel. Octopus also. Duck, scallops.

          Sunchokes pureed . . interesting . . .might have to try at home. I had them warm in a winter salad (some Jamie Oliver recipe).

          Sounds like it might be worth an excursion . . .

          1. re: financialdistrictresident

            Going there this Friday, fdr. Will let you know how it goes.

            1. re: rrems

              please do!
              very interested in this

      2. I had dinner on Friday. I had reserved 2 weeks in advance but we really could have just walked in, as it was busy but there were several empty tables. We were a group of three and were given a nice table in the garden with a good view of the glassed-in kitchen. We opted for 3 small plates each and shared some tastes so got to try a number of dishes. Wines were expensive but they have a nice selection of bottled beers, so we had Keegan Ales Mother's Milk and Magic Hat Elder Betty, which worked nicely with the food. Though the rolls served at the beginning of the meal were of good quality, I don't care for sweet .pastries with dinner. These seemed more appropriate to breakfast. All of the dishes we had were delicious and nicely presented. The flavor combinations were interesting but not weird and showed no evidence of molecular gastronomy, which is fine with me. The lamb sweetbreads were tender and delicious as was the generous portion of ox tongue. Squid was nicely spicy. Foie gras was very good but a very small portion. We also had the octopus, venison tartare and blue cheese with pear. The desserts were good but not up to the standard of the first courses. The chocolate cake with basil ice cream was the best and was really quite good, while the peaches in the peach dessert lacked flavor, and the lemon curd was not terribly exciting. The presentation was less artistic than usually found in restaurants of this caliber. Over all, we enjoyed our meal very much, thought the prices high but not outrageous, and will definitely return.

        4 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          Some people have major trouble digesting sunchokes and I'm one of them. On their online menu there's something about "we respectfully decline to make substitutions," so if there's something you can't eat, then what? You only get 2/3 of a meal?

          1. re: suepar

            I'm not sure why this was directed at me, but I'll answer your question anyway. If a menu contains that many dishes that you can't eat, choose a different restaurant. Otherwise, order the dishes you CAN eat. Don't expect a chef to change the recipes just for you.

            1. re: rrems

              Did I say I expected that? And it was a general question.

              1. re: suepar

                It does read that way. Nonetheless, my answer was general also.

        2. FYI, sunchokes are Jerusalem artichokes.

          1. We had a very pleasant 20th anniversary dinner here in early August, seating at 6pm (due to a long ride home afterward). Lost Tamaro and a Lillet Blossom off the cocktail menu for starters, both delish and non-driver ordered a second one of the Lillet Blossom. Sharing widely, we did the lamb sweetbreads (delish), avocado/grapefruit/burrata salad (tasty, but the textures were all too similar), baby goat cheese plate (mighty tasty, sent out by the chef as a gratis anniversary gift), scallops with corn/yukon potatoes/crab (very yummy, but for $29 I'd not use a plural noun for one scallop sliced in half... boo! but the clever presentaion with the sliced potato was amusing), trout (beautifully cooked and nice flavor contrasts , except the smear of blackish yogurt sauce, while tasty, didn't look very nice). Did that chocolate/pretzel cake (very nice, cleaned the plate) and the panna cotta (eh... feeling like too much gelatine, and dried up meringue blots, etc, didn't add to the flavor profile). Chef stopped by at the beginning of our meal to wish us well, a nice touch. Staff efficient and helpful, and not in the way. More customers arrived over time, with a nice buzz around 8pm - not bad for a rainy weeknight. In all, a very pleasant end to a happy day in the Hudson Valley, and the start our next 20 years.