Foodies in Hudson are all a-flutter about The Crimson Sparrow, the long-anticipated restaurant that finally debuted on June 20 with a resounding ta-da! (OK, for reasons known only to magazine webmaster types, I have to submit my blog posts days ahead of the posting date, so I’m writing this before the restaurant actually opens, and I made up that bit about the ta-da. But there should be some kind of fanfare — it’s an exciting event.)
Ben Freemole and John McCarthy are the chefs behind the ambitious enterprise, and spent a reputed $1.6 million to renovate the 1850 Keystone buildings on Warren Street to house it. Locals who dropped in to the opening of the tavern last weekend now know what a $1.6 mil makeover looks like — in this case, five rooms exuding a sleek blend of industrial chic and vintage Hudson, all tin ceilings, beadboard, old brick, satiny concrete, fabulous finishes and custom-made wood tables. If you don’t usually feel particularly hip, you will as soon as you walk in the door. In the 2,000 square-foot courtyard, also chic as all getout, there are seats facing a glass wall that looks into the carriage house kitchen, so you can see what the chefs are up to.
Both Freemole and McCarthy are graduates of Manhattan’s famous WD-50, where star chef Wylie Dufresne wows serious diners with molecular gastronomy, edible clay, and all like that. Freemole and McCarthy have announced that the menu at The Crimson Sparrow will be more about grandmotherly comfort food than culinary chemistry, although, as McCarthy points out, calling their cooking New American “allows us to do just about anything.” Here’s a sampling of the menu to prove his point: On the dinner menu, under Plates, you’ll find venison tartare with breakfast radish; pork cheek with artichoke, barley, cedar and Cynar (an Italian liqueur made of herbs, Google informs me); ox tongue with manchego, capers, tomatoes and celery; lamb sweetbreads with buckwheat, plum, dandelion and clove; and foie gras takoyaki (a kind of Japanese dumpling) with rhubarb, yuzu and chili. Large Plates include sea bass, scallops, duck and sirloin butt heart. Substitutions politely declined, the menu says, so expect well-composed dishes. Also expect craft beers, American and international wines, and fancy cocktails. Naturally it’s not bargain dining; Plates run from $12 to $14, and Large Plates are $28 or $29.
I don’t know about your granny, but mine didn’t dish up much in the way of foie gras takoyaki. Still, it all sounds very sophisticated, urban and thrilling, and I can’t wait to go. Please comment if you’ve tried it.