Fish & Game in Hudson, NY

Saying that Fish & Game in Hudson, NY is a restaurant, is like saying that the Frick Collection is a museum with drawings and paintings. It would be missing the point. Fish & Game is more like a friend's home, homey and welcoming, a reason to take a day or two to go upstate to the Hudson Valley. Who wouldn't want to come to a true friend who knows how to welcome you, and whose food is both center and background of your experience.

It would not be difficult to rely on Chef Pelaccio's credentials and past to make you salivate in anticipation. We could also tell you about the renaissance of Hudson, NY and how the restaurant is on The James Beard Foundation radar, two years in a row. We would be missing the point.

Welcome

Fish & Game, off of Warren street (aka main street in Hudson NY) is like a little secret. The brick country home spiced up by a red velvet wallpaper is the second life of the 19th century blacksmith shop it used to be. Michael Davis perfectly preserved the Hudson Valley roots of the building while reinventing it with a twist. You really come in someone's home, with the dining room on the right (including a family table with direct view of the open kitchen), and the living room on the left (the lounged and bar). You would almost expect to take the stairs to go to your room for the night. The open kitchen is not a display behind glass but really an extension of the space, almost as if you were going to join in cooking the meal. But why do so when the fire is roaring in each fireplace, and the team of experts is taking care of it.

Home

In a high-end destination restaurant, you expect some hush hush conversation, a slightly stuffy staff, and a scripted experience. You will find none of that here (granted we experienced it at brunch time). The lounge is lively with laughters, with people making themselves at home on the large chesterfield sofa, or by the fireplace. The staff is busy without missing on your needs; the bar tender will be there to advise you wisely and takes its time to perfect your drink. The bar enjoys natural light, and talks to you with a perfect selection of spirits on display, and the secret bottles filled of Lady Jane's Alchemy. The drinks are civilized and perfectly mixed; the Au Pear may be a fun name, but the drink is as serious as it gets.

TO FLAVOR

It's a restaurant after all, so we can't go on and on about the look and feel, and how you much you want to linger and enjoy, especially if the weather is cold outside (and shopping and architecture gems are waiting for you). Some people talk about farm to table like it's a credential, at Fish & Game, they just live it, and it becomes flavor. The terroir comes out of even the most simple dish. Take their Egg En Cocotte; it's simple, but intense. The yolk is still runny while the white is perfectly cooked in cream and tang. The dish comes with bread that brings the French custom of "mouillette" (the sop to soak in heaven) to a whole new level. It goes perfectly with  the duck fat roasted potatoes, just saying. To end the meal, or by itself, the flavor intensity comes to perfection with the hot chocolate (is it anis and cardamome that lingers?) served in a local made cup.

It's one thing to perfectly execute a meal, and that's what you expect of a well run restaurant, it's another to create flavor in the experience. Co-chefs Zacchari Pelaccio, Jori Jayne Emde, Kevin Pomplun and partner Patrick Milling Smith have created a one of a kind space.