Fish & Game
13 South 3rd St.
Hudson, NY 12354
Dinner Thursday through Sunday
Dining Room from 5:30 PM
Bar opens at 5 PM
Our plan to dine at Fish & Game, as we passed through Hudson on a Sunday afternoon, came together quickly when an email from the restaurant asked if we would be willing to come at 5:15 PM. An earlier email had apologized for the fact that the dining room was fully booked, but a quick follow up offered an early table, actually fifteen minutes earlier than the restaurant’s posted hours. We jumped at the opportunity.
The restaurant’s creative kitchen, directed by partners Zacary Pelaccio and Jori Emde (of NYC’s Fatty ‘Cue / Fatty Crab fame) raise foraging and “farm to table” cooking to high art, utilizing offerings from their farm in Old Chatham and other nearby Hudson Valley growers. The “small plate” prix fixe ($75) menu showcases the talents of the imaginative pair, where nose to tail charcuterie meets mouth watering samplings of heirloom vegetables and fruit, all accompanied by a first rate wine list chock full of hard to find treasures.
When we arrived for our reservation, we were invited to stop first at the bar for a cocktail. Even at this early hour, the room was already crowded, but still most comfortable. The pit stop also afforded me the opportunity to peruse the wine list before dinner. I spied Cru Beaujolias from Morgan and Fleurie – wonderful bistro priced wines that pair well with nearly everything (and perfect for an eight course dinner.) Unfortunately I also spotted a bottle of a Premier Cru Burgundy that I had never tried – a Domaine Juliet Fixin Clos de la Perriere 2009. I couldn’t pass it up and we ordered one for dinner. After a glass of Escargot Chardonnay at the bar, we took our seats in the dining room.
The centerpiece of the cozy twenty eight seat room was a brick fire place. The flames of the fire licked at three ducks, slowly turning on a rotisserie, teasing diners with a hint of what would be on the evening’s menu. The menu changes regularly, dictated by what is sprouting in the garden or ready for the butcher’s knife. As the growing season ends house prepared stores of preserved farm produce will fill in until next summer.
The first plate to arrive was smeared with a spread of fresh house made cows milk cheese, topped with savory slices of charred fennel. We were off to a great start. The dish that followed was ultimately declared to be Mary’s favorite dish of the night – oven roasted florets of fresh cauliflower – simple, earthy, and just perfect. Diners have the choice of opting for an exclusively vegetarian menu, and after the first two dishes I decided that would probably be a wonderful choice. You would however miss out on the duck, which would be a tragedy. After a quick taste of this dish, I had to challenge our server as to the provenance of the bird. In my mind there was just no way that a rotisserie roast duck could be so impossibly tender – fall off the bone tender – as the leg on my plate. She explained, in great juicy detail, that the ducklings are first aged for three weeks before taking a turn on the spit, and that is only the beginning of their journey. A low and slow confit braising finishes the preparation, and the result is nothing short of spectacular.
A procession of servers continued with a parade of small plates, not enough to overwhelm the diner and just enough to fully appreciate the artistry of the preparation. A preparation of Berkshire pork wrapped some pig cheek fat around some ground sausage made from more of the same, was paired with a dollop of course ground mustard. It was around this time that we noticed that the restaurant also offered a wine / beer pairing with each course for $75. I would have enjoyed seeing what was paired with this intensely rich dish, which overwhelmed our Burgundy. Next time we will definitely take them up on the offer.
By meal’s end we were in total agreement with the growing consensus that Fish and Game – after only six months of operation – now ranks as one of the best restaurants in the valley. Fans of Chef Damon Baehrel at Earlton’s Basement Bistro will see many similarities between the styles and the talents of these two kitchens, and I hope that the proprietors of each establishment will accept that as a great compliment.
If you do stop in please let our other readers know about your visit in the comments section.