It’s always a good deal when your restaurant meal is served with a sparkling view on the side. But it’s even better when that meal matches the view.
Such is the case at Hudson at Waterway East, the Delray Beach eatery perched on the eastern edge of the Intracoastal.
As the eatery prepares to debut The Pier, its waterfront outdoor bar, Friday (more on that below), it’s certainly worth a visit.
With a “Hell’s Kitchen” winner in the kitchen, the restaurant offers a solid American menu with an emphasis on seafood. It’s clear that winning executive chef, Paul Niedermann, prizes fresh ingredients, clean cooking and simple, sophisticated presentation in his dishes.
This is evident in the deceivingly simple single jumbo lump crab cake ($18) that’s presented as an appetizer at lunch and dinner upon a rich grain mustard aioli. The cake is chock-full of crab meat, and it hums with the flavors of tangy grapefruit and sweet basil.
This is a delicious crab cake, and it’s an expensive crab cake. The elevated price is not a rarity on the menu – dining here may be a casual experience, but it is not an inexpensive one.
That said, another terrific starter is the chef’s make-or-break dish from his “Hell’s Kitchen” season: lemony, olive oil-poached shrimp with a jalapeño kick ($18), served with slices of grilled baguette. The poaching method yields decadent yet delicate shrimp that are perfectly tender – a winning dish for sure.
Lovers of fish tacos will find satisfaction in Hudson’s mahi fish tacos, topped with Napa cabbage slaw and a Sriracha-lime sauce ($17). And if you’re craving plump lobster meat in your lunch sandwich, you’ll find it in the Maine lobster club that’s layered with applewood-smoked bacon ($18). My only quibble with the sandwich is its multigrain bread vessel, which fell apart in my hands.
As an excellent fork-and-knife option, I found the roasted local snapper ($32) to be delicious and surprisingly robust. This fresh fillet is served in a fragrant San Marzano tomato “fondue” (slow-cooked sauce) with a puttanesca compote, wilted arugula and a thyme-scented polenta cake.
On the dinner menu, expanded sea-centric offerings include a tempting roasted cobia, made aromatic by fennel confit and fennel pollen, in a Meyer lemon buerre blanc sauce ($27), a grilled, soy-glazed wahoo served with carrot-summer squash slaw ($30), and pan-seared scallops in a carrot-ginger puree ($30).
For the sweet finale, I found Hudson’s key lime bars ($10) to be a decent option and perfectly shareable – you get three rectangular wedges of key lime pie served atop a swirl of raspberry puree. They’re not worth breaking your diet over, but they end the meal in an appropriately island-style note.
Speaking of island style, Hudson’s waterfront location is a prime spot that offers the only sunset view from a watering hole on the Intracoastal in Delray Beach. In that sense, the debut of the restaurant’s new outdoor bar is a huge plus.
However, boaters should know that while they are welcome to dock and dine at Hudson, they are not catered to the way they might be at some other spots. Across the waterway at Deck 84, for instance, boaters can order from their boats and are served without leaving their boats. At Hudson, they must disembark, belly up to the bar or settle into a table for service.
When they do, they’ll find a nautically themed bar with seven TV screens for sports-watching, cool drinks waiting and some pretty delicious grub.
R E V I E W
Hudson at Waterway East
ADDRESS: 900 E. Atlantic Ave., #22, Delray Beach
NOISE LEVEL: Pleasant
FULL BAR: Yes, with a separate bar area
HOURS: Open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to close, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to close (bar open late); brunch served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
HAPPY HOUR: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
CREDIT CARDS: Major cards accepted
RESERVATIONS: Accepted, but walk-ins welcome
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
PARKING: Valet parking offered, lot parking available
WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother
IF YOU GO
The Pier: Hudson launches its new, 1500-square-foot, waterfront outdoor bar Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. with live music, 4-buck martinis, select complimentary cocktails and performers dressed as pirates and mermaids.