Hudson Hil’s Café and Market Restaurant Review in Cold Spring: American Comfort Food and Dining in Putnam County
Expect super-fresh, made-from-scratch fare and a warm welcome at Hudson Hil’s in Cold Spring
Cafe charm: A Cold Spring bistro hits the mark with dishes like this sautéed chicken breast served with spinach, cannellini beans, and Toussaint cheese from Poughkeepsie’s Sprout Creek Farm
Photographs by Teresa Horgan
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A moviemaker in need of a charming small-town setting would do well to consider Cold Spring for the part; it has easygoing appeal without drifting into cutesy. And if there’s a role in the movie for a sweet little small-town cafe, Hudson Hil’s, Cold Spring’s newest eatery, is a shoo-in — it’s straight out of central casting. We were there on a recent sultry evening, when sunlight was still pouring through the big windows in front, although with its buttery walls, white beadboard, and golden pine floors, the place still had an inviting glow after dark.
Those of you paying close attention to my Accidental Foodie blog will recall that I’d much enjoyed a turkey, prosciutto, and mozzarella sandwich for lunch in the cafe in early spring. The place had just started serving bistro-style dinners a few days a week, and, although it’s an hour drive from our house, the deliciousness quotient of that sandwich finally lured me back, this time with my other half, to check out the dinner menu.
Owners Hilary and Bob Hayes
Hudson Hil’s was launched at the end of 2010 by Bob and Hilary Hayes (it’s named for Hilary, which explains the awkward spelling). Bob, a classically trained chef, had been a stay-at-home dad for a couple of years, living in Garrison and “kibitzing with the other moms” (as his wife puts it) about the shortage of local eateries serving simple, freshly made breakfast and lunch fare, especially for those with kids in tow. He and Hilary, who was then commuting to Wall Street, decided that she’d leave the world of finance and turn to something more wholesome. They would fill the niche themselves, providing cafe cuisine, made from scratch, using high-quality, local ingredients. And no cop-out junk food for the tots, either. (“Parents thank us for putting steak and broccoli on the kid’s menu,” says Hilary.) The couple stocked the market space adjacent to the cafe with baked goodies, artisanal Valley cheeses, and prepared foods to go. Locals and weekenders responded with enthusiasm.
Breakfast choices are served until 4 p.m., and include oatmeal (with raisins, brown sugar, and bananas), and egg dishes (Benedict, Rancheros, frittatas, omelets, and such). The lunch menu offers sandwiches and wraps, salads, a black bean burger, and an already locally acclaimed regular burger made with grass-fed beef. The dinnertime cooking is classic American bistro: good, unfussy, and homey, with five or six staples and a couple of specials that reflect whatever fresh produce is available. Wines for under $35 a bottle along with half a dozen craft beers from regional breweries round things out.
“Former Wall Street equity analyst” doesn’t sound like the ideal credentials for a restaurant meet-and-greeter, but Hilary has a friendly, welcoming way, and the cafe has a comfy, relaxed feel. The night we visited, the mixed crowd included kids, young marrieds having a date night, old marrieds (us), friends, and a woman tapping away on a laptop by her plate.
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