Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Classic Revisited And A Trip North

Walking into the Palm on Friday evening harkened an older era, one where waiters happily delivered steaks in butcher coats, where dark-paneled rooms and pedestrian American cabernet sauvignon by the glass was de rigeur. These days, steakhouses are sleeker, and with the emergence of the Bloomberg law, which states that restaurants with more than one outpost in the city must list the calories next to each menu item, the Palm has the character-less feel of a chain restaurant. Did you really need to know, for instance, that your wedge salad weighs in at a preposterous 960 calories, over 100 more than the boneless rib-eye?

Probably not. Such issues do not detract from the quality of a barely-bound giant crab cake, served with a tart and sweet salad of pineapple and mango and a spicy mayonnaise. Calories be damned; the bone IN rib-eye is still worth every one of its nearly 1200 calories, owing largely, I think, to the thick deckle of fat that surrounds the marbled meat. Wild mushrooms (calories? You don't want to know) are bathed in vinegar and salt, a sort of agrodolce take on a normally creamy classic. But with those three delicious items alone, along with a nine ounce glass of mediocre cab and a tiny onion roll with cold butter, I blew my calorie budget for two days. I didn't look at the dessert menu. It would have been too scary.

Hudson Hil's, in Cold Spring, New York, couldn't have been more different. The tiny white clapboard restaurant, with a wraparound porch that looks out onto Cold Spring's Main Street, facing the Hudson, features local meats and grass-fed beef. One side of the restaurant has a liquor license and the other does not, so we had to wait for a table on the boozy side to vacate before we could order our barely tippling Sunday afternoon bellinis. A pressed grilled cheese sandwich on toothsome French bread played the line between sweet and savory: aged gouda, thin-sliced apples, fig compote. A rueben on rye was delicate in its balance of corned beef, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing. In the damp spring air, surrounded by fresh bloomed trees and a population emerging from winter, the sandwiches approached perfection.

The Palm Restaurant
250 W. 50th Street
New York, NY 10019

Hudson Hil's Cafe and Market
129-131 Main Street
Cold Spring, NY 10516

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