I was walking along the sidewalk in Downtown Hudson when I noticed a sign for a restaurant next to the Western Reserve Culinary Academy - across the street from the Clock on the Green.
The menu this restaurant - Downtown 140 Restaurant and Winebar - displayed in the window was intriguing both in terms of layout, description, and the type of food being served. I asked a few friends about the place and hearing only intrigue - booked a table for 930pm Saturday night.
The restaurant is entered either from the main drag in Hudson and down a flight of stairs or through the rear of the building. Our reservation was for 930pm - which is pretty late seating for Ohio dining in my experience, but the hostess also indicated that walk-in's were usually accomodated with a seat at the bar or kitchen counter with-in fifteen minutes.
The decor of the restaurant was a pleasant surprise. In my opinion, this is the most sophisticated and tasteful ambiance I have encountered since moving to Ohio from NYC. The dining room has a rough-hewn wall of massive stone along one side which is joined at the ends with fine dark planking. There are exposed brick columns and an overall feel of fine cabinetry. The seating is cloth banquettes against the walls and tables with cool chairs otherwise. Along the wall opposite the stone wall is a dark wood bar and an exposed full stainless kitchen. The lighting is particularly good but the hard surfaces did make it a bit loud.
Loud? 930pm in Hudson. Loud because it was busy - and stayed busy until we left at nearly midnight. The kitchen appears to serve until at least 11 if not 1130. It's great to see a local place that attracts a crowd - and as we learned - it was easy to see why that crowd was there - and why I will be back for sure.
The menu is arranged with tapas-like appetizers termed "smallest plates" then traditional appetizers as "small plates" then entrees as "not-so-small plates." The wine list was impressive but not huge and they offered by the glass and bottle but also tastings of wines in flights that I haven't seen in Ohio before.
My friends and I started with sparkling water - again there is some weird facination with this Foss water which I have now seen in three or four fine dining places in Ohio. Please folks - let's get San Pelligrino back on the table this Foss stuff looks like a shampoo bottle.
We then ordered some champagne by the glass and our "smallest plates" - I ordered mission figs wrapped in prosciutto. These were served baked with the ham crispy around the soft, warm figs on a plate with tiny balls of rich goat cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Terrific! My companions ordered heirloom tomato salads that they exclaimed over for their freshness and intense flavor. The menu notes that the kitchen strives to use local, organic ingredients in the recipes.
We moved to "small plates" and my companions ordered asparagus which was fried in a chunky peanut batter and served with a variety of asian dipping sauces, I ordered a goat cheese fondue which was served in a white ceramic fondue bowl with a fire underneath, the cheese was excellent and creamy and the chunks of apples, peaches, and crunchy bread were delicious when dipped in the fondue.
We paused between appetizers and entree to order a flight of their Pinot Noirs - essentially quarter glasses of wine. The service on this was a little awkward in that it would have been nice to have some way to indicate better what the wine was as we predictably became lost after the first glass of five tastings as to what was what - but I did discover an excellent wine in the Kings Ridge 2002 Pinot Noir which I later ordered by the glass. One note - the menu said this was a 2001 but when I looked at the label it was a 2002.
Moving on to our main courses. I ordered a steak which was served fileted and with peruvian potatoes and was perfectly prepared with a slight crust and wonderfully pink throughout. My companions ordered a scallop dish that my friend was actually closing his eyes after bites to savor and a chicken dish served over buckwheat noodles that were deemed to be an excellent accompaniement to a very delightful chicken dish.
Dessert was Jamaican Blue Mountain coffe and a selection of artisan cheeses and a melting center chocolate cake.
The service was wonderful and unobtrusive throughout the meal and our entry into the experience was managed perfectly by a charming and elegant hostess who met us by name at the door and guided us to our tables.
For three people with tip the bill was $236.00 but the experience should not be missed by those foodies on a budget as it seems very likely that one could slide in and sit at the bar snacking on "smallest plates" (the figs wrapped in prosciutto were only $2.50 per peice) while drinking a glass of wine.
This restaurant was a totally unexpected pleasure and I will definitely be back and will feel very comfortable taking both friends and clients.
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