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

Categories: Cafe Reviews

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Sea bass cooking: The tender sea bass is enhanced by a simple addition of the buttery choron sauce.

While plates like the Fog & Parm dazzle, other options lack the oomph and kick you're expecting after you've read their descriptions.

Added oil and sauce appears to be a theme at Hubbell & Hudson. As a previous frequent shopper at the Market, I thought it right to order the roasted baby vegetables from a restaurant once tied to its own market. A plate filled with the freshest produce atop a sushi rice cake sounds refreshing and light, an appropriate dish during the summer months. But what actually appeared was not what I had in mind. Charred and burned pattypan squash, okra, baby bell peppers, cauliflower and carrots glistened from a too-generous addition of olive oil. Each vegetable tasted the same: Oily, burned and bitter. The extra tomato sauce in the bottom of the bowl took this dish from swimming in liquid to drowning in it.

But a small bowl of Brussels sprouts redeems Simmons ability to simply unlock the natural flavors of the vegetable. The sprouts are cooked with soy sauce, creating a crispy, charred and caramelized coating on each veggie; the serving is topped with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Combining the proper amount of soy sauce with the Brussels sprouts diminishes the bitterness by bringing out the sweetness, and the Parmesan shavings are just an added salty bonus.

At the same time, though, a side dish of cauliflower gratin missed the appropriate ratio of cheese sauce to florets. The overly oiled sauce clearly broke from an excessive amount of heat. And what a shame; the cauliflower was tender and slightly nutty, and could have been an excellent companion to the Wagyu tenderloin, but the leftover broken sauce was not appealing.

While some dishes crash and burn (some of them literally), others are so spot-on you can't find a fault. Our server highly recommended the sea bass, saying it was one of her favorites. Perfectly flaky fish is topped with luscious lump crab and a choron sauce, a twist on the classic béarnaise without tarragon and with the addition of a tomato puree. Light lemon and goat cheese whipped potatoes rest underneath the delicate sea bass, inviting you to slice your fork through the entire stack for the ultimate bite -- the tart citrus and cheese blended with the mild potatoes harmonize with the tender sea bass and creamy topping.

The New Bistro Burger can be ordered only at lunch and during brunch on the weekends, but it should be offered all the time since it reveals Simmons's love for the American classic. A tender, juicy half-pound sirloin patty cooked to order is topped with salty melted Vermont Cheddar cheese, crunchy shredded Bibb lettuce, a single caramelized oven-dried tomato and sweet Applewood smoked bacon slices, the whole lying in a toasted house-made Challah bun. It's a simple cheeseburger elevated by the added touch of an exquisitely soft and chewy roasted Roma tomato atop high-quality cheese and crispy bacon.

Every great burger needs great french fries, especially if they are smothered in roasted garlic and mint. And if there's an appropriate time for an extra bit of oil, it's with these fries. Crispy thin fried potatoes are heavily coated in finely diced garlic, creating rich and savory fries balanced by the cool and refreshing mint leaves.

Dishes like the New Bistro Burger, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and sea bass with crab and whipped potatoes serve as reminders of the uniqueness Hubbell & Hudson once had when the market was still open.

But with or without the market, serving unsalted steaks, overly oiled vegetables and an unimpressive shellfish ceviche doesn't seem to be good strategy.

The bistro is in a state of renovation and transition. Perhaps the burger should be on every menu, while other items should be removed or seriously modified.

Perhaps the beautiful desserts -- such as a peanut butter cup complete with layers of chocolate and peanut butter mousse with sea salt caramel and organic peanut butter topped with peanut butter powder and a scoop of banana ice cream -- should be brought to center stage, especially when paired with the French press coffee prepared tableside.

Hubbell & Hudson lost part of its mojo and needs to get it back. A few high notes are not enough to mask the sorely disappointing ones.

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro
24 Waterway Avenue, Suite 125, 281-203-5641. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday brunch 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Shellfish in the Style of Ceviche $21
Fog & Parm $11
8 oz. Akaushi Texas Wagyu tenderloin $49
Sea bass $44
Roasted baby vegetables $24
Parm & soy caramel Brussels spouts $8
Cauliflower gratin $8
New Bistro Burger $17
Peanut butter cup $7.95
French press coffee $4.25

Location Info

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

24 Waterway Ave., The Woodlands, TX

Category: Restaurant


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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.
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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.
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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?

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