Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dinner in Hudson, NY

Swoon Kitchenbar in Rhinebeck

We had dinner at Swoon Kitchenbar in Hudson, NY, on Thursday night, the 25th of October. A quick 20 minute drive north from Rhinebeck, this lovely little restaurant on Hudson's main street is a real gem. The decor is "rustic bistrot", with a tin ceiling, modern sconces and lots of wood. Tables are nicely-spaced apart, and the chairs quite comfortable. It reminded me a lot of the adorable bistrots I visit when in Burgundy or the French countryside. Service was a bit distracted, but not offensively so. In fact, we were in no rush, so it was fine. When we first entered, there was another couple at a table and someone sitting at the bar, so we were a bit apprehensive. 8pm at the end of the week and almost no one there? Hmm...

Now about the food... Wow. This place uses all locally-sourced ingredients to make some fine dishes. The prices were much friendlier than for similar dishes in NYC, though not surprising as it's 2 hours north of the city. Well, 1.5 hours if you drive like me...

We started with a plate of local charcuterie which was quite well-chosen, with some nice touches like coarse sea salt on the foie gras and grainy country mustard for the meats. Remember, while these may be regular things in NYC and other major culinary centers, Hudson is a small town.

My second course was a braised veal rib the size of my forearm. It was served with tiny lentils and roasted sweet potatoes. After the first bite, I warned the waitress I'd need a cigarette afterwards, it was that hedonistically good. Seriously. Moist and buttery soft, this just fell off the bone and into my mouth, with the purest essence of concentrated veal I've had in a while. Fan-freaking-tastic. It was so good that I forced myself to finish the entire dish, practically licking the plate. Needless to say, I was suffering from a slight food hangover the next morning.

My wife had a braised short rib on potato galettes which was almost just as good, deep and dark and just ever-so-slightly drier than anticipated. My dish, to my palate, was better. The pricing for the quality was, frankly, ridiculous. The veal rib was $22, the braised short rib $21! In NYC, they would be twice as expensive.

I cracked the well-priced list, seeking a Burg. It was cold and rainy, and Fall had definitely finally arrived. With the smell of wet leaves in the air and trees changing colors, it was the perfect time for a nice Burgundy. Then again, when is it not a good time for Burgundy?

I picked a 2001 Domaine de l'Arlot Clos de l'Arlot Nuits-St-Georges, which was delicious. Well, I do seem to be on something of an Arlot kick this past week for some reason. Oh, right, it's because they make good wine.

The 2001 Domaine de l'Arlot just jumped off the pages at me, so how could I refuse? At first pour, it was darker than the Clos de la Foret St Georges I'd had with lunch a few days previous. It also smelled completely different. Whereas the Foret still had the fruity vivacity of bright fruit, this one focused more on that lovely stinky musky smell that gives me the shivers, beautiful dark fruit wrapped in sous-bois, with just a hint of oak intermingling with everything. On the palate, this carried similar notes, with a little less exuberance than the nose. Minerally and with some nice tangy acidity, this was both medium-bodied, soft and elegant at the same time. The finish was slightly short, but nothing that I'd sneer at, ending the virtual trip back to the Cotes de Nuits, leaving me homesick but happy.

Thanks to the crew at Swoon, it really lived up to its name.


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