Best New Restaurants

New restaurants pop up throughout the Hudson Valley all the time. (Although the economy has certainly slowed that trend a bit.) But which ones are really worth a special trip? From an Italian trattoria to a swank hotel hot spot, these seven outstanding eateries, all of which have opened in the last two years, are not to be missed. So make your reservations — and get ready to enjoy a dynamic dining experience



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 Chef/owner Dave Nilsson (left) and Executive Chef Ola Svedman survey the scene outside their eclectic Hudson eatery

Photographs by Teresa Horgan

 DA|BA, Hudson

The Hudson Valley is not exactly overpopulated with Nordic restaurants, so when DA|BA snowshoed into downtown Hudson in 2006, it was a matter of some curiosity. Initially, the locals didn’t know what to make of the place, with its minimalist design, suspicious-sounding food (wild boar with gin and tonic glaze?), and a name that suggests a Swedish rock band.

Over time, though, word got around that whatever was going on in the kitchen — and not all dishes are so outré — it was something special. Daniel Nilsson, the chef and owner, and Ola Svedman, the executive chef, forged a menu that is contemporary and global, winsomely presented, and rife with surprises. Before long DA|BA attracted patrons from up- and downriver.

(Below) A DA/BA server attends to guests as they mull over the menu;
(bottom) The caramel mousse is served with crisp apple chips and a lemon fennel sorbet

 

Nilsson explains that his restaurant is not really Swedish, but rather “a restaurant with two Swedes in the kitchen, and we do everything, including some Swedish specialties.”

One of the best Swedish specialties is duck breast that is encased in a salty meringue before cooking. This yields an amazingly tender filet with a pleasant salty edge. It is garnished with crispy fried duckskin that lives up to any Chinese joint in the area. The lobster bisque has to be one of the best in the Valley — intensely flavored but lighter than most bisques, and garnished with curls of deep-fried carrots.

For those who yearn to sample bona fide Scandinavian cooking, there is a meaty Arctic char that is brined and seasoned with dill. The fillet is slowly poached until it reaches a buttery consistency. It comes with a sweet pear-and-horseradish broth, which may be Swedish, probably not.

You don’t find elk chop on many menus. It is a lamentably overlooked specialty, a cross of beef and venison, and not at all gamey. Lamb chops are embellished with a sauce combining white wine and delicious little dried cherries. On the side are sautéed nectarines with more dried cherries.

Choosing wines for a menu as wide-ranging as this is a challenge. DA|BA’s list is thoughtfully assembled with the food in mind — and prices are reasonable.

Clockwise, from top left: Executive Chef Ova Svedman prepares a beef tenderloin dish with a blueberry vodka sauce, fava beans, and potato purée;
DA/BA’s Peach and Pear dessert features samples of white chocolate cheesecake, soft pound cake, frozen pear parfait, and a pear marshmallow, all of which incorporate peach or pear;
one of the restaurant’s most unusual dishes: a quail egg shares the plate with a water-smoked squab leg, squab mousse, toasted coconut, and chocolate balsamic reduction

Desserts could not be described as strictly Scandinavian, but they pack enough calories to fuel a Norseman for a day of marauding. Chocolate crème brûlée, dense and bittersweet, turns up in a stout cocktail glass and with a sugar glaze of perfect consistency.

Something called “chocolate indulgence” is essentially a white and dark chocolate mousse, while caramel is silken and semisweet, paired with superb vanilla ice cream.

While DA|BA is one of the most ambitious restaurants in the area, owner Nilsson also wants it to be a casual hangout for those who are not in the mood for elk chops and caramel mousse. The flip side of the menu carries pub grub — burgers and fries, soups and the like — with everything under $8. Dried cherries are extra.

DA|BA. 225 Warren St., Hudson. 518-249-4631; www.dabahudson.com

 

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