The Crimson Sparrow Restaurant Review in Hudson: New American Food and Dining in Columbia County
There’s culinary magic in the air at the Crimson Sparrow, Hudson’s new hot spot
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Creative pairings: Octopus with sweet pea risotto is just one of the Crimson Sparrow’s small plate offerings
Octopus with sweet pea risotto, kimchi romesco, and lime proved to be tentacles of tender poached octopus perched on peas masquerading as a creamy green “risotto,” with little squares of tart lime gel for contrast. The dish involves three different pea preparations, McCarthy explained later: blitzed freeze-dried peas with coconut milk, blitzed crushed peas, and whole English ones, with butter and Parmesan bringing it all together. Delicious, unexpected, and fun to try to figure out.
Pork belly with artichoke heart delivered the smooth, fatty pleasure of pork plus a little extra octane from Cynar, a slightly bitter herbal/artichoke liqueur. I suppose my taste buds were reeling because I didn’t notice the “cedar” that’s somehow incorporated into the dish, though I’m sure it added a special note.
Midway through these delicious and satisfying treats, we decided, as reporters, that it was our duty to sample one of the Large Plates, and ordered the half duck with five spice, yellow raisin, and red pepper orzo to share. Although the menu declares “substitutions are politely declined,” the kitchen will gladly divide a dish, if it’s divisible. (“We compose dishes to experience various flavors,” McCarthy told me later. “But otherwise we do what it takes. We can accommodate ovo-lacto vegetarians, vegans, or whatever.”)
The half duck turned out to be medallions of duck, boned, brined, rolled in its skin, and cooked sous vide — a laborious preparation that takes about three days in all, McCarthy says. Time well spent, it you ask me. It was the essence of moist, tender, intense duckiness, with a dark, piquant skin. Add dreamy orzo, along with pickled cauliflower for a gentle kick and micro mustard greens for a dash of pepperiness, and you’ve got a sublime combo. It was also such a generous portion, even divided, that I checked with our server to be sure it was just one. The bad news is that it’s off the menu for a while, but McCarthy described a replacement duck preparation for winter that involves a panisse with crumbled merguez sausage and charred cipollini onions that I’m willing to bet is another wowser.
Hibiscus ice cream
Desserts are equally inspired. Hibiscus soft serve with blueberries, orange, sesame and olive oil jam was served sprawling across a cold slate slab like some deconstructed, celestial Mister Softee, and was intense but uncloyingly sweet. Peaches with oats, cucumber jelly, and frozen yogurt fragrant with cardamom was such a heavenly mix of crunchy, smooth, sweet, and tangy, we didn’t even care that it was light on the peaches. “Granola of the gods,” my husband uttered.
Prices, although not cheap, are reasonable given the quality and sheer inventiveness of the fare. Backing up the menu are some cool cocktails, a sake list, craft beers, and a thoughtful wine list that includes many affordable bottles as well as by-the-glass choices for under $10. We drank Secco Prosecco with our meal, but next time, we’ll try the Sleight of Hand Magician Riesling since, in name at least, it expresses what goes on at this quirky, eminently satisfying spot.
The Crimson Sparrow
Dinner Wednesday through Saturday; Sunday brunch. Plates from $11-$16; Large Plates $29-$31; desserts $10-$11.
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» Go to www.thecrimsonsparrow.com
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