Wm. Farmer And Sons Raises A New Bar In Hudson
By Jamie Larson
There’s a lot new in Hudson, New York these days (see this week’s accompanying story). All over town, recently opened businesses are raising the bar in lodging, food, drink, design and style. One of them is bringing all those aspects together in a truly impressive way.
Wm. Farmer and Sons Boarding and Barroom on Front Street has created a beautiful and professional lodging and dining experience. The rooms, coffee bar and other boarding amenities are elegant and comfortable, employing a style reverent of Hudson’s history while acknowledging its modern relevance. But the big gem at the center of it all that’s a gift (not just to guests but also to spoiled locals) is the barroom.
“Barroom” is a bit of a humble misnomer for the two-level, fully formed restaurant. Owned by W. Kirby Farmer (the chef) and Kristan Keck, and designed and built by SchappacherWhite, DPC, the space takes inspiration from the bones of the 1830s building, employing raised, exposed brick fireplaces, dark stone, wood and finished industrial fixtures. Every seating option is unique, from the cozy two-tops by the windows and a single recessed booth, to the long central table and a large round arrangement. And, of course, there’s the namesake bar on the upper level. The space is unified in overall style but the individualized experiences lend intimacy to the large layout.
But no one buys a ring for the jewelry box, so let’s talk food. With full recognition of its laudable competition, right out of the gate the chef, Farmer, has put together a menu that’s on par with the best in town.
For a starter or bar snack you can get boudin balls made with the forage-fed pork from Kinderhook’s Lovers Leap Farm, a grilled octopus salad or a frisee salad with pork belly and cambozola cheese with a grapefruit and sweet shallot vinaigrette. And don’t pass by the mushroom starter. This mix of top-quality fresh mushrooms on puff pastry in a ham-spiked chicken jus shows that umami is a flavor our region’s cuisine has some deep wisdom in.
There are also excellent barroom staples including French onion soup, a fried chicken sandwich and a perfectly executed burger in a town of great burgers. The mains as well are based around staple ingredients but elevated by execution and inventive accompaniments. Any tavern demands a steak with fries on its menu and there is an outstanding one, as well as crispy confit Hudson Valley duck with beans and a beautiful trout paired with crawfish, butter beans and a citrus emulsion. Let’s not forget the velvety gnocchi, squash, braised kale and apple in a Parmesan gravy that’s a hearty meatless joy.
Starters and mains range from $10 to $30 and the menu will change seasonally. Specials and dessert options are announced at the table.
The cocktails at Wm. F&S is a reason in itself for a visit. The drink program was designed by Sasha Petraske, whose Lower East Side bar Milk & Honey has been directly credited for sparking the global Prohibition-era, earnest cocktail revolution. The drinks he created for the Barroom are boldly straightforward, focusing on quality and precision rather than flair. There’s the Water Lilly, made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and Violette, and an Old Fashioned for those who actually like Old Fashioneds. Some drinks are only slightly different on paper but create completely separate experiences due to their main component and balance, like the Fitzgerald (gin, lemon juice, sugar and Angostura) and the Brooklynite (Anejo rum, lime juice, honey and Angostura).
Even the more inventive drinks are about making a statement rather than providing a colorful ride up a twisty straw. The Penicillin, with scotch, ginger, lemon and honey is medicinal but bright and the El Guapo, with tequila, lime, cucumber and a dash of Cholula hot sauce has a complex but measured bite.
Tragically, Petraske, 42, died suddenly in Hudson after consulting with Wm. F&S and the drinks at the Barroom are a testament to the relevance and vitality of his prematurely arrested professional legacy.
Wm. Farmer and Sons is a strong new player in the major league Hudson restaurant game. As lodging close to the train station, river and Warren Street, there’s undisputed appeal, but the Barroom makes it a destination for all — and a hard place to leave once you’ve pulled up a stool.
Wm. Farmer and Sons
20 S. Front St., Hudson, NY
Tuesday-Friday, 5-10 p.m.
Saturday, 3-10 p.m.