Friday, December 30, 2011

Hudson River Cafe

Hudson River Cafe in Harlem, looks like nothing special - even a bit like a dive, peeking out from its spot under the overpass by the river.

Inside, it is sleek and modern and empty. Christmas Eve, we came here, looking for good food and drinks to celebrate Barb's birthday. We scored 1 of 2.

The hostess was a little weird but the busboy and waiter made up with plenty of attention - we never lacked for water, for clean plates or anything else that we might normally have had to wave down for but due to the slow night, we had plenty of attention.

Downstairs, was a smaller area set up with a bar, seating, hostess stand and kitchen. It was expanded by promise of seating outside in an enclosed space with another bar.

We chose to sit upstairs and spied a room closed off - it might have been a dance floor but we don't know.
Just the drink menu was confusing enough as we just had no idea what to choose. Barb got a sampling of their sangria but it wasn't the best so she opted out of it. Finally we settled on the Pomegranate Martini for Barb and the Very Berry Caipirinha for myself.

Pomegranate Martini
Barb was not thrilled with her pomegranate martini. I expect it didn't have pizazz one might expect from pomegranate but it was clear she was not enamored of the drink.

I concurred. My Very Berry Caipirinha was not the tastiest drink nor was it strong. I am not an alcohol enthusiast by any means but this was one big disappointment. I am not certain it was the drink itself or bartender but something tells me that the bartender was not into his job that night.

Very Berry Caipirinha
After sipping our drinks, we concentrated on getting some food order in. As we could not decide, we finally chose two appetizers (luckily not four) - the empanadas and the buffalo shrimp.
The empanadas came in a trio. There was beef, chicken, cheese w/ collard greens. Interestingly enough, I have never tasted collard greens in my life. I think it's lack of southern cooking in my life...(Melba's?). :)
Collard Greens with Cheese
The Collard Greens was surprisingly good. It reminded me of spinach and cheese. Then again, I doubt that anything you fry would taste these empanadas were already delicious because of the crispy crust.

Beef Empanada
The beef was very good. Again, very flaky crust; good seasoned meat inside. It was hard to cut in half but we did it.
Chicken Empanada
This was just as good as the beef one. I admit a love of empanadas to begin with - mostly the one I found called "Argentinian Empanada' but empanadas are good. No matter what. :)

Buffalo Shrimp
Buffalo shrimp. Need I say more? After liming it up, these tasty and well cleaned shrimps paired well with the bleu cheese dip. It had the right amount of spice cut by the citrusy lime and cooled by the dip. Needless to say we polished off this plate - just the shrimp though.
Costillas de Buey
Barb ordered the Costillas de Buey, which are braised short ribs, pomegranate & rioja red wine reduction, manchego yucca mash. However she subbed the yucca mash for mashed potatoes instead. These were plated as seen above with a lovely orchid.

Seafood Paella
I should have ordered something less daunting but I went for the full monty - half lobster, various seafood as you can see and squid ink rice.

As expected,  I couldn't finish the massive plate. I tried to pick off as much shellfish as I could - meaning my favorite lobster and mussels but I managed some rice, clams, and squid. :)

We had to get ours in doggy bags to go. :X

However, because it was Barb's birthday, we had to get dessert in. Even if it meant, unbuttoning the jeans and praying not to explode. :)

They disappointed us with not having flan - by that I meant me...but they had the tres leches cake (3 milk cake) so we shared that.

As the waiter knew it was Barb's birthday, she got a candle too. (sorry, I only use my iphone now since I hate carrying lots of items).
Tres leches cake topped with candle
Luckily no singing was involved! Barb made a wish, blew out the candle and cut the cake in half. It was good - not that sweet but it was not as good as Agozar's.

I have to admit - all latin places are compared to Agozar's in my mind. :)

Hudson River Cafe
697 West 133rd Street 
New York, NY 10027-7303
T.  (212) 491-9111
Happy Hour 4pm to 7pm (Subject to change due to private events)
Dinner Tuesday thru Saturday 5pm to 12am,
Sunday and Monday 5pm to 10:30pm
Saturday & Sunday Brunch 11am to 4pm, Dinner 5pm to 1030pm
Live Music Schedule (Sat and Sun From 11am to 3:30pm)
Happy Hour 4pm to 7pm (Subject to change due to private events)
Dinner Tuesday thru Saturday 5pm to 12am,
Sunday and Monday 5pm to 10:30pm
Saturday & Sunday Brunch 11am to 4pm, Dinner 5pm to 1030pm
Live Music Schedule (Sat and Sun From 11am to 3:30pm)

Hudson River Cafe on Urbanspoon

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