FORT GREENE/SPONSORED – Hudson Jane’s Myrtle Avenue storefront logo, a bottle of wine and some glasses sitting on a shelf with knives hanging below and their motto “Life’s too short to eat sh*tty food!” pretty much sum up the restaurant’s philosophy of cooking and hygge vibe. The relaxed lighting, burning candles, hanging plants, and Bossa nova gently streaming from Sonos, is a welcome escape from hectic street life. With its rustic, country aesthetic, and its farm to plate ethos, it could have gotten its name from the river town upstate.
But Hudson Jane actually refers to the street corner in Greenwich Village where Executive Chef Megan Johnson first kissed Director of Operations Jen LaPorta. Megan’s culinary background includes classical French cooking, a stint as a personal chef, the Gramercy Tavern, and Executive Chef at Casellula Cheese and Wine Cafe. Jen, grew up in Miami’s Cuban community and worked in fashion before opening the restaurant with Megan in July 2017.
Hudson Jane divides its dishes between small, medium, and large, the better to share by. Most of their fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, flour, dairy, and other ingredients are sourced from local sustainable farms. Many wines are natural or biodynamic. Almost everything, down to the condiments, is made from scratch on premises. For example, the Pickled Dilly Green Beans drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with pink peppercorns are lacto-fermented, a process that is healthier than conventional vinegar pickling. It took one and a half years of experimenting with gluten-free pastry flours before settling on just the right blend for the desired flavor, texture, and crunch of the Caramelized Onion Flatbread.
Layers of complexity and finesse are added to simple traditional dishes, some inspired by actual family recipes, creating “New American Comfort” food with a twist. Yucca, for example, is a variation of a favorite dish of Jen’s mother. Hudson Jane’s version, bathed in a garlic, cilantro and lime mojo sauce, is tender but crunchy. Jen’s mom flew home to Miami porting several containers.
Steak & Poutine has been reimagined from a Quebec staple of french fries smothered in gravy and scattered soft cheese curds to a classy dish of thinly sliced grass-fed hanger steak on a bed of sauteed mustard greens and fingerling potatoes. Baking transforms the cheese curds to a crisp. Dip it all in the plate-smear of intensely green, sweet, house-made parsley ketchup.
Desserts are just as tasty as the main dishes. Hudson Jane’s line cook, Luis, is the talent behind the House-made Chocolate Lava Cake, a rich concoction that is a perennial favorite in my family. In this version, hot molten chocolate is complemented by macerated cranberries on top and a flourish of pomegranate sauce below. The spiced House-made Sweet Potato Cake, topped with candied ginger, a sprinkle of dehydrated orange peel, and a drizzle of cream cheese glaze, is the perfect choice for the fall and winter holidays, or just about any season.
Because it’s so mellow, just about any meal at Hudson Jane is intimate, but a more private experience will be available through the Supper Club debuting in January 2019. One Sunday evening every month the restaurant will close to the public for the whole night. Supper Clubbers will enjoy a seasonal cocktail and snack followed by a specially prepared three-course meal with beer and/or wine pairings with each course.
Hudson Jane’s official motto is a bit risque. But its unofficial motto can be found on a sign inside, “Love is Love,” spelled with hearts. The restaurant’s name, thoughtful furnishings, carefully chosen ingredients, but above all, its skillful cooking, attests to a labor of love.