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