Red Hat on the River: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011


Hi! This is guest blogger Rinku Bhattacharya, telling you about my late-week experience in Irvington.

My first try for restaurant week was Red Hat on the River, a restaurant that I was waiting to try for a while, I had heard wonderful things about the place and wanted to check it out myself. Restaurant Week presented the perfect coincidence of timing and excuse. The evening we went the weather was lovely, so the walk across the parking lot overlooking the river set the perfect tone for the evening.

I had made reservations over a month ago and had requested a table adjacent to the window and was a little disappointed to be kept waiting for about 20 minutes and then I was seated in the center of the room on their upper level. Wednesday nights at the Red Hat features live jazz and the music combined with the HVRW crowd was a little much for them to keep organized. Later, I realized the that the restaurant had windows all around offering us some of the view of the well lighted and beautiful river.

The place was very busy, with a relatively formal looking crowd despite the music. The atmosphere was more casual at the bar downstairs, so I did feel a little awkward with the camera. This is just me, even after all these years, I feel a little uneasy taking pictures in a restaurant. The service was slow but very polite and affable. Their restaurant week menu was something that they brought to the table as an afterthought. The menu had three options for the appetizer, four for the main course and I think three again for the dessert.

My husband started with the Red Hat Salad, which was a light and balanced salad, with apples and watermelon radishes (something that he is planning to grow this spring), with some shaved Gruyere cheese all very balanced and flavorful. The three vinegar dressing was actually much mellower that I had thought it would be. Yes, I like to reach across (delicately) and taste his food too.

I tried the House Made Rillettes and absolutely loved the rich contrast of flavors that the duck and pork confit offered against the tangy crisp sharpness of the pickled red onions. The flavors were prounounced and balanced.

We did have to wait a little bit before our main courses arrived but by now we had settled into the wonderful music; the lead singer had an amazing voice.

For our main courses we had the two fish options, my husband had the salmon, which was served over a parsnip and potato puree with lentils, roasted beets and a red wine and bacon vinaigrette. Again a wonderful balance of flavors, the tart flavors balancing out the natural sweetness of the parnisps and beets.

The fluke came with something called the “Mariniere” sauce, a new one for me, but the rich subtle flavors worked wonders for the mild fish. The roasted potatoes were done to tender perfection and the green beans were appropriately tender crisp. By the time we were done with all this, we really were very full, so I do not think we did as much justice to the desserts.

However, my coconut bread pudding with a chilled mango sorbet and my husbands profiteroles were very good. The mango and coconut combination of the bread pudding actually felt very tropical.

All in all, the food was excellent and well worth the visit.

The 411 on Red Hat on the River.


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1 Comment

  1. We ate at Red Hat last Thursday and I had kind of a mixed experience. The initially offered us one of the high tables down near the bar. My wife is 5′ and does not like climbing up on those stools so we asked if there was anything else (I kind of knew that there was, since the person at the desk had told the person seating us to put us at one table, then corrected herself and told her a different one). The hostess went to get another table and took us upstairs. We were seated at a table for 4 against the back wall, but there is a mirror running along the wall so even if you’re sitting facing the wall, you still get to see outside. I tried to order the salmon, but do not eat bacon so I asked if I could get it without the red wine and bacon vinaigrette. The server said sure, but returned a few minutes later to say that the lentils were also made with bacon, and normally they could substitute something else, but given that it’s restaurant week they wouldn’t, so I should order something else. The salmon was also available plain grilled with vegetables but that sounded boring. He recommended the fluke, which I hadn’t even noticed on the menu (turns out it is not on their web dinner menu, it is for lunch), and he said it was good (and better than the chicken, which was my 2nd choice), so I ordered it. Have you ever had this feeling after ordering something that you’d made the wrong choice? I got that feeling, and it got worse when the table next to me got the chicken and it looked interesting. But my server wasn’t around, and I figured the fluke would be OK.

    For appetizers, my wife and I both got the potato and goat cheese cake, which I had expected to be baked but was not. It was a mold of chopped potatoes topped with smooth goat cheese and some greens on top. Pretty good, but not what I was expecting. When i got my fish, I knew I had made the wrong choice. It was very plain, the sauce (which I think was actually Meuniere) was really just a butter and herb sauce. The fish was ok, although it was kind of mushy. Definitely not what I wanted. my wife had the steak frites which was a much better choice, although she commented that there was not that much steak – I assume this was not the same size portion they normally serve. The haricot verts that came with both were excellent, as were her fries. The sliced potatoes I got were OK, some were crisper than others.

    For dessert, I had the profiterole (note there was just one, as expected, but the review here uses the plural) and my wife had the bread pudding. Both were very good.

    So the bottom line for me was a disappointing entree, pretty good rest of the meal, but nothing that blew me away like me other meals (North, Crave and Back Yard Bistro) have. Of course, it’s probably unfair to compare Red Hat to the others. And on the bright side, it convinced me to definitely order the chicken at Crave (instead of the fluke), which was just amazing.

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