Even though the winter’s cold is in the air, temperatures in Matawan have been on the rise, thanks to the hot new dining destination, Hudson Square Restaurant & Lounge. We went to check it out and wow, what a new face Hudson Square has put on this former catering hall. Exciting, elegant and sophisticated, Hudson Square conjured up visions of New York supper clubs with a little Miami sizzle tossed in for good measure.
It’s a visual explosion with a sleek, commanding central bar. The dining area includes tables and leather upholstered half-circle booths, all basking in the hue of blue-toned lighting. It’s a decorator’s dream, with stimulating detail after detail no matter where you turn, from the dramatic willow-covered chandeliers, Zen garden-like blue and beige paintings encircling the walls, a slim inset fireplace, touches of neon, and all throughout is a collection of KAWS statues, with their signature X eyes.
The refined American cuisine menu has little global touches with a selection of familiar dishes to satisfy most palettes.
Patrick brought us a basket of rolls and breadsticks and made us feel like we were the only customers. We were also happy to have a visit from the owner, who shared his vision for this elevated dining experience with a touch of lounge at that long, cool bar. They are off to a great start, and soon we were off to a great start too as we ordered our appetizers.
Our openers included the Blistered Shisito Peppers, Salmon Tartare and Meatballs, which come served in a big bowl, swimming in a thick tomato sauce. These are tender, and you can really taste the angus beef, veal and sausage – well done! The pretty Salmon Tartare is a generous size, perfect for sharing and comes with a showy giant potato crisp that you break apart for dipping into the fresh salmon. On top of that, we tried the bold Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad. It had lots of goodies, but that zingy dressing with a sharp bite of acid demanded to be noticed and really delivered. We were also treated to a bonus pizza, which is slated to show up on their upcoming lunch menu. It’s a traditional pie with a big depth of flavor that will be quite popular.
Now for the entrées. Our first diner chose the Half Roasted Chicken in a white wine sauce with rosemary roasted potatoes and broccoli. The juicy chicken was well-prepared with a nicely caramelized skin, and the dish was hearty without being too filling.
Diner two select the Lemon Sole Meuniere, in the classic lemon brown butter sauce, with roasted potatoes and asparagus. The flaky and moist sole had just the right amount of lemon tang, and the tender potatoes were even tastier with a hit of the meuniere sauce.
Diner three had the New York Strip that comes with a basket of fries and shishito peppers with your choice of sauces. She had hers au poivre, even though I encouraged her to try the horseradish. The steak had lovely grill marks, and it is a straightforward presentation of a classic.
I picked pasta, specifically the Wild Mushroom Carbonara with pancetta and fresh peas. Mushroom lovers delight – this big serving of pasta had so many mushrooms it was like a walk in the woods. There was plenty left for lunch the next day, so do try it.
We ordered a Chocolate Mousse Cake for dessert and this big, sharable-sized slice with a berry compote packed a chocolate taste as intense as its deeply dark color. The icing was great and equally intensely flavored.
Hudson Square has two party rooms that can accommodate groups of 100 or 200. They offer a Social Hour every Wednesday through Friday 3 to 6:30 pm and weekends 3 to 5:30 pm. Wednesdays are also $25 Burger Night with salad and wine or beer. They also offer a Sunday Brunch 11 am to 3 pm. They have big, evolving plans too, including an outdoor dining area with a playful yet elegant feel, a new lunch menu and hours, new dinner menu, special events and entertainment after 10 pm on the weekends. Keep your eye on this one.
Cost – moderate to high
What we liked- The atmospheric design that sets dramatic, chic mood. The intriguing art, sophisticated furniture and half-circle booths, the attention-grabbing central bar, the friendly staff and manager, the large portions, large parking lot and nice bathrooms.
Hudson Square Restaurant & Lounge is located at 227 Freneau Ave. (Route 79) in Matawan. 732-654-2277. It is open Wednesday 3 to 10 pm, Thursday 3 pm to 12:30 am, Friday and Saturday 3 pm to 1:30 am, and Sunday 3 to 9 pm. It is closed Monday and Tuesday. TheHudsonSquare.com