Friday, August 27, 2010

A Rare Rave Review

When a bar-restaurant opens at 5 p.m. and you walk in just before 6 and find half of the patrons already eating and the room nearly fillled -- you get the Oh-ho! feeling that you just may be onto something good ...

Hudson House, 514 Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach 90277 310-798-9183 and I urge you to go look at it for their beer list and menu items.

The menu is odd in that there are expected bar dishes such as nuts (dried cashews, oiled almonds,) olives (green, black) and dried cherries (whoops!) The serve "pails" (literally) of French or sweet potato fries and yet, there are surprises like skirt steak with garlic and truffle cheese fries.

I ordered their Bloody Mary with grilled shrimp, more to see what it was than anything else. The drink arrived in a tall glass with an asparagus spear and a chunk of lemon rising up out of it and a short, thick skewer with two grilled shrimp laid across the glass top. I could swear that the shrimp had been dusted with powdered Old Bay seasoning before being grilled. This is such a natural progression from a shrimp cocktail - cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce -- to something rather wonderful.

Dishtowels serve as spacious napkins; servers wear jeans, plain black t-shirts and sneakers. Wine glasses are those odd, seamless - what? Rounded juice glasses? An attempt at Swedish modern? Dunno. Didn't seem to be the kind of place you'd fear an attack with a broken bottle -- or glass. The room is bigger than it may look at first glance; painted mostly in dark gray with lots of small hanging lights which could make the room look like a carnival ride, but because they're not all that bright, work quite well.

Richie was a little dubious about the garlic truffle cheese French fries, but ordered the skirt steak anyhow ($14.) The brown sugar barbeque ribs ($12 for six) sounded good to me and while they were supposed to arrive with "crispy shallots and cilantro" they came instead with a frou-frou of bean sprouts scattered across their tops. I carefully picked them off and put them in the pit cup on the olive dish. Bean sprouts are an abomination and no right-thinking person would touch them especially not on barbecue anything.

Both meats - steak and ribs - were cooked to perfection. Nice, meaty ribs, too -- not bones of dripping fat.

Richie had a pair of Stellas ($5 each) and I added a glass of house pinot grigio ($7) to go with my continued exploration of Richie's French fries. He's now a truffle convert, by the way, remarking on the great flavor of the fries.

My only caveat would be that bar service was a little languid. Still there were only three servers and they may have been busier getting the food out to than the booze down the customers.

Would I go again? Damned straight! What're you doing tomorrow night? This is a perfect place for four or five people to have drinks (full bar) and a grazing dinner that satisfied everyone and doesn't cost a fortune (by splitting the tab equally.) Our dinner and drinks came to $49 plus tax and tip. We had two ribs and a pile of fries left over and quite a few nuts and olives to box up, too.

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