Bucket List: Red Hat on the Hudson
Bucket List: Red Hat on the Hudson: We’ve been looking for the best riverfront dining to add to our Bucket List for some time. X20 has great river views and world-class food from master chef Peter Kelly but no outdoor tables. Harvest on Hudson has a great riverfront patio with more than ample outdoor seating but the food is meh! And it’s hard to get a table at Red Hat on the River.
Unless you pick up the phone! We did just that on a Wednesday and got a 7pm table for that Saturday night. This after getting shut out online as much as a month out – the furthest date they were booking.
“We’re glad you called,” the receptionist told us. “Open Table often just releases some of the tables.” (Never going to try to book online again!) Like most eateries with outdoor dining, Red Hat will reserve you a table time inside but it’s first-come, first-serve on the patio. We prepared to get there by 6pm. So, of course, it rained.
Here’s the good news. After dining there we decided to put Red Hat on the River on our Bucket List for any season for dining indoor or out, for it’s unique setting, open river views throughout and well served modern French Bistro cuisine. Loved it!
Boiler Room but not boilerplate
Red Hat on the River is housed in what was the boiler room of the Lord and Burnham factory, built in 1870 overlooking the Hudson River in Irvington. Lord & Burnham manufactured steel framed greenhouses for public conservatories and for the rich and famous – including the first curvilinear greenhouse of it’s kind in the United States at Jay Gould’s Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown.
The industrial setting of the dining room, with double-height ceilings, near floor-to-ceiling white, wood-framed windows and brick, brick, brick is unmatched in our explorations around Westchester. Only Saltaire in Port Chester comes close – but Red Hat has those river views from nearly every table.
They did a great job warming up this towering industrial space with red leather banquettes and a pewter bar accenting the space. The walls are adorned with WPA-era art evoking a feeling of a turn of the century Parisian bistro. Original steel frame girders support a mezzanine dining level with cabled railings above the single-height bar area that tones down the cavernous open main dining room. It’s at once monumental and cozy – we kept looking around for the fireplace. There is none but somehow it felt like there must be one somewhere. And check out those chandeliers.
While the building has maintained it’s decidedly vintage factory façade, once inside it is hard to imagine the dining room was formerly a boiler room and not a ballroom of a river town mansion. And while Steak Frites and Moules Frites are signature dishes here, the Red Hat menu is anything but boilerplate French Bistro.
From Steak Frites to Swordfish Tacos
Yes you will find all the French Bistro classics on the menu such as House made Rillettes (French duck and heirloom pork confit with pickled red onion and cornichon on baguette toast), Steak Frites, Pan-Seared French Cut Chicken Breast, Boudin Blanc and Salad Nicoise. But without losing its Brasserie feel you can also find Asian Pork Meatballs, Swordfish Tacos, a Cubano sandwich, Ricotta Ravioli and Ginger Soy-Glazed Cod.
What we liked
You always know you’re in for a good meal when the bread (sourdough rolls) arrives piping hot with creamy, room temperature butter. The Butternut Squash & Arugula Salad was spot on. It sported hearty ingredients; maple glazed squash, dried cherries, green apple, pumpkin seed, naturally cured smoked bacon, and goat cheese and was delicately dressed with an apple cider vinaigrette.
We were feeling like a light meal so we went all in on a couple of fish dishes. The Ginger Soy-Glazed Cod, with sesame roasted sugar snap-peas and coconut basmati rice was heaven. And the sustainably raised Grilled Salmon with sautéed spinach, French green lentils, and pommery mustard-herb-shallot vinaigrette was cooked to perfection. Both were moist and meaty and dressed with a disciplined hand. We don’t like our fish smothered in sauces.
And, of course, we had to have a side order of Frites. Second best, only to La Crémaillère’s!
For dessert we had the Chocolate Pistachio Pot De Crème, French custard, made with Valrhona dark chocolate, and topped with roasted pistachio and fresh whipped cream.
What To Do
When we called for a table, the reservationist asked if we were celebrating a special occasion. So you know that this is a popular birthday and anniversary spot. But the food, ambience and service are casual enough to make this an any-night-out for foodies, BFF gatherings or couples looking to catch up on some good conversation. And with entrees mostly in the $27-$31 range it’s a great special occasion destination if you’re feeling a bit skint. Add it all up and it’s a Bucket Lister for us, and we think, for you too.
Red Hat on the River is open seven days a week for dinner. They are open Mon-Fri for lunch and also serve a Sunday Brunch from 11:30am-3pm.
(63 Main Street, Irvington , 914.591.5888; www.redhatontheriver.com)
More Stuff on What To Do’s Bucket List
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