Review: Hubbell & Hudson Has Lost Some of Its Spark Along With its Market

Categories: Cafe Reviews

CafeAug2701.jpg
Photos by Troy Fields
The delicate sea bass and beautiful chunks of crab rest atop a cloud of tangy goat cheese whipped potatoes.
You can't see inside the market at Hubbell & Hudson anymore. The expansive windows that allowed pedestrians to view the bounty of fruits, vegetables, breads and meats are now fogged and glazed. The elevator that used to drop you off at the floral department now dumps you out onto the Woodlands Waterway. There isn't anything left inside; the only thing that remains is the Hubbell & Hudson Bistro next door.

Dishes using local ingredients and in-season produce still dominate the menu. A chef-inspired cheese board that once included fromage from the deli is a popular starter among patrons who begin their meal with it and a glass of wine while seated at the bar.

Dry-aged beef is still offered, and is accompanied by other local Texas cuts of beef, like the tender, but sadly underseasoned, eight-ounce Akaushi Texas Wagyu tenderloin. The New Bistro Burger reminds guests of the original burger bar situated inside the market. Not all the burgers that were offered in the grocery portion remain on the menu, but the upgraded cheeseburger known as the New Bistro Burger is the only option you need.

We ordered the awkwardly named Shellfish in the Style of Ceviche, which sounded enticing with its combination of rich Maine lobster tail, jumbo lump crabmeat and succulent shrimp marinated in a combination of yuzu (an East Asian citrus fruit) and cilantro. But the bowl of shellfish drowning in too much juice was not a beautiful presentation; the crabmeat should have been served in large chunks rather than finely shredded pieces. There wasn't enough shellfish mass to soak up all the marinade.

"It is refreshing," my dining companion noted. She was correct, but the pool of yuzu juice at the bottom of the bowl only left me wishing for more shellfish.

It's hard not to compare the bistro to what it once was, a restaurant connected to a specialty market serving dishes prepared with ingredients sold just steps away from the kitchen.

Hubbell & Hudson used to have something special. Being connected to its own market filled with a direct supply of signature meats, an international selection of cheeses and locally sourced produce made it a unique place for Woodlands residents to frequent. But now that the bistro must source all its foods elsewhere, H&H has lost some of its spark.

---

Hubbell & Hudson opened as a market and bistro in November 2008. More than five years later, on March 12, the grocery portion and Viking cooking school both officially closed, but the attached bistro and off-site kitchen remained in business.

Originally, the bistro served dishes featuring the market's offerings. The menu was much larger, and meals were deconstructed on the plate with wisps of sauce strategically placed in corners and on the sides of the dish. By day, it was a place to grab a juicy burger or hearty sandwich, and at night, it transformed into an upscale fine-dining establishment where patrons could select any cut of meat offered from the butcher shop, a seasoning rub, sauce and two sides.

The bistro appealed to residents of The Woodlands seeking a "downtown Houston" restaurant in the suburbs. More often than not, these diners would end their meal grocery shopping on the other side.

In 2012, H&H's menu was upgraded and modified by the then newly promoted executive chef, Austin Simmons. Simmons gained experience at the now closed Tesar's Modern Steak and Seafood in The Woodlands before joining the culinary team at the bistro. Now that the restaurant no longer has a symbiotic relationship with a market, it must get its ingredients from other providers. Simmons purchases seafood from the Gulf Coast, East Coast and other countries; he tries to use as much local produce as he can, buying in-season items from Hardie's Fruit & Vegetable Co. The menu changes more often now that Simmons has taken the reins; he maintains an offering of dishes using the freshest ingredients he can get his hands on.

A Fog & Parm starter demonstrates his culinary abilities. Creamy and salty Parmesan cheese (Parm) drapes perfectly over a beautiful circle of firm goat cheese (Fog) sitting atop tender avocado slices. A finely diced herb-seasoned tomato compote adds an extra dose of salt; I cut a chunk of goat cheese covered in melted Parmesan, then placed it on a slice of sweet, toasted walnut cranberry bread with avocado and tomatoes. The salty compote and Parm elevate the subtle flavors of goat cheese and avocado, but it all comes together with a bite of the chewy, fruity toast.

Location Info

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

24 Waterway Ave., The Woodlands, TX

Category: Restaurant


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
22 comments
HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

Very interesting how many throwaway accounts are being used in this discussion. Apparently folks aren't willing to stand behind their opinions. One has to wonder why.

iraglassman
iraglassman

Rumor has it that the Press is trying to lure back Shilcutt or Cook. The place is really sad. 


Albert Nurick: I don't want to dig into the specifics of her review, but some of the ingredients she claimed were in the dishes she disliked aren't in those dishes. My guess is that she was in way over her head with Chef Austin's cuisine; she seemed to have no problem with the burger and fries, though.


And the market next door wasn't a huge factor in the Bistro's success. Ingredients are sourced from commercial sources, just like they've always been. Professional chefs don't wander up and down the aisles of retail stores for their ingredients. LOL.

Molly is a staff writer for the Press. She grew up here in the Woodlands. She's obviously fairly young and inexperienced; the first time I noticed her food writing was when she did a "10 best in the Woodlands" article for the press a couple of years back. Her choices were puzzling; Amerigo's as #1, Ace Chinese, lots of steakhouses. It really seemed to me that she wrote about the places her parents probably took her growing up.

When the Press announced that they were not going to employ a full-time critic anymore (for the first time in forever) I was afraid this would happen. They've had a history of some very good critics: Kelley Blewster, Alison Cook, Robb Walsh, Katharine Shilcutt, and Kaitlyn Steinberg were all knowledgable about food, and talented writers before they moved into the critic's seat at the Press. Molly just isn't there yet, and it saddens me that they'd put her into this sort of position.
--------------------
Andrea Rizk Williams: WHO is Molly Dunn? And really - she sounds like a mole. She's trying to make it sound like the Bistro can't function without the Market. Kind of like a Leslie Brenner bunch of BS that was spewed against John Tesar. Move on Molly….your opinion matters not to me.
--------------------

marie721
marie721

I think the critic is right about Hubbell&Hudson.I have been a patron there since it has opened and sometimes the food can by heavy and a bit oily as of late.Things change so often on the menu when you find something you really like the next time you go it may not be there(other then steaks) Even so it is still the closest farm to table restaurant that there is in the Woodlands.

Kireau
Kireau

i prefer to salt my own food. its not that hard. everybody wants their own amount of salt. no chef can decide for everyone. when they try its usually way too salty. its a lot easier to add salt than remove it. this chef probably is tired of throwing food away because people want less salt. smart! and salt is unhealthy anyway and takes away from the true flavor of the food.

and just go to Hubbell & Hudson Kitchen on Research Forest. its better than the Bistro. they have craft beer. the Bistro serves watery imports. ugh.

ball_go_far
ball_go_far

@jimbo126  - there are no recent tweets referencing this restaurant, none .. strange comment...  #hubbleandhudson  #hubble&hudson

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Agreed with the sentiment more middle of the road mediocre reviews, I'm not saying you have to gush or be hateful but making excuses for restaurants and the rationalizations just aren't needed.. Just try having a journalistic backbone, the readers are all but demanding it.

hugo0002
hugo0002

Is this writer even a true food writer? or an intern?

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

I've been seeing some tweets lately suggesting that Hubbell & Hudson is serving some outstanding, creative dishes, and the restaurant is as vital as it ever was. I look forward to getting back there soon.

Kireau
Kireau

you spelled it wrong! its Hubbell!

1stChuck
1stChuck

Houston Press, I am with you.

Molly Dunn, you have come a long way.

hugo0002
hugo0002

@HTownChowDown I tend to agree with you in respects to her food criticism.  I've always enjoyed reading the reviews from the Press back when Shilcutt was there, wasn't too fond of the last critic.  This writer has never really written any reviews before it seems, and I don't think I want to see any more in the future.  Houston Press should have assigned this review to a more experienced food writer in the industry...and not just because she happens to live in the area.  I am kind of confused by it honestly. I think the bistro is not only one of the best restaurants in Woodlands, but I feel in greater Houston. A true culinary destination that I always recommend to friends and visiting guests. Looking forward to dining at their new location.

ball_go_far
ball_go_far

@HTownChowDown - Pajama inspired pants were also popular in 2012. I'm sure you could agree that the restaurant scene has changed since then as well. I've dined at Hubell several times and today's restaurant is a shadow of what it was. The review is spot on.

ball_go_far
ball_go_far

@Kireau  opps .. sorry .. same result though .. only tweets I see are from Hubbell and something about an overpriced steak. 

AC87164
AC87164

@1stChuck Agreed. I enjoy your stories, especially making your own favorite dishes at home!

1stChuck
1stChuck

@hugo0002 - The impression I got from the way Shilcutt communicated with us was that she might be the type to put you up to writing this comment...hell, maybe you are even her. I am a long time reader (since the Press started) and the food section has always been my go-to. When Robb was still there, I just cringed at Shilcutt's first stuff. Then I stopped clicking on her stories. When Robb left, it got to the point where I stopped reading this site. Molly will step up or someone else will come along.

Houston Press, please do not hire Shilcutt back. Let her stay where she is over there with what was supposed to be the dream team. If anything, you should try to lure Robb back, or Alison for that matter. She might be due for a change.

MrSnarkyPants
MrSnarkyPants

@1stChuck Considering that across the country Voice is replacing experienced reviewers with freelancers and this position was advertised as a freelance position, don't get your hopes up for a major critic to ever return to the Press. The cycle seems to be blogger -> freelance critic -> take a full time job somewhere else. Such is the economics of the news biz these days. But over time you might see writers find their voice as they churn through.

vonschliessen
vonschliessen

@MrSnarkyPants @1stChuck

"across the country....". Can you provide several examples please? I don't think there is a company policy to replace full-time critics with freelancers; in fact, the Voice spokesman denied it directly. Maybe you're more connected?

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...