High Street on Hudson

One of the smartest things I did last year was book off the first Monday of the new year, the day when most people would be coming back from their joint Christmas-New Year’s  holiday. It’s the Monday that signals the party is over, resolutions are to begin, and any pajamas-all-day energy should be squarely pushed out of your system. I hate that Monday. So to follow my December of four-day workweeks, I would relish one more.  Or, I would try to relish it, because Mother Nature chastised me for trying to beat the system by delivering her coldest day of the season. But deep down, somewhere, still lurks a prairie girl who can handle the cold. She gave Mother Nature the finger and proceeded to have a very pleasant afternoon of lunch out and a trip to the Whitney Museum.

Foodies hearts have been all aflutter with the opening of High Street on Hudson, the sister restaurant/bakery to the praised and loved High Street on Market in Philadelphia. And in this case, I actually heard (indirectly) from an actual person that it was worth a visit, not just through social or regular media. Our outpost is also a restaurant with a small bakery and pastry counter. It’s located in a sizeable corner space (on Hudson St) a few blocks away from the Whitney-Highline hub. I strategized to go on this Monday because I figured it would be quiet both for a Monday and for this particular Monday. But then add the Arctic chill, and I entered a restaurant that was basically empty at 1:30. Thankfully, a marked difference from the waits of over 30 minutes I was quoted when I asked my server what I could expect on the weekend—the only other time I can visit as they are not yet open for dinner.

The lack of patrons may have removed most of the energy from the restaurant and resulted in nearly every front-of-house staff member to (very nicely) check in on me, but it also provided for more luxury in pace, sound, and opportunity to appreciate the comfortable space and cool winter light that came through the large windows. The heft of the menu comes from sandwiches, with the remainder being salads, vegetable sides, and one soup. Some of the breakfast items have been heavily photographed, but on a weekday, they become unavailable mid-morning. The temperature meant that the pumpkin soup was a given. But it was hard to pick a sandwich, especially because all of the various breads used are made in-house, so I’d be picking based on bread wants as much as filling. I’ll admit that I also wanted to get the soup because I figured I would get a few slices of bread on the side, and I did.

Pumpkin soup

The two slices of levain were the best part of this course, even better when I topped them with High Street’s malted butter. Bright orange from the malt, the butter was slightly sweet from extract they must be getting from their bread production. The soup was just a pumpkin soup, nothing more. There was no added spice, so it was rather mild , but it was a nice consistency, neither too thick nor too thin and perfectly smooth. It served its purpose of warming me up. As the only soup on offer, however, I wish it was more special. I wish it made me perk up and take notice like this soup from Dimes did today.

Roast pork sandwich with fermented broccoli rabe and sharp provolone

The roast pork sandwich won out because a pork and broccoli rabe hero is a Philly staple, and so I thought I’d see if they did their hometown proud. That being said, I’ve never had a roast pork sandwich in Philly, so my judgement would have to be based on whether I would want to after this one. I very much would. Yes, again, the bread, semolina I think, was wonderful.  Tender yet chewy and a superstar at holding all of the components together.  Despite being thinly sliced, the pork was very moist and juicy, slightly sweet and very satisfying. There was not a lot of the broccoli rabe, so I was worried about a lack of presence, but being fermented, a little had a lot of punch. Its bitterness worked well against the pork and the bread. The provolone was the forgotten friend. There was either not enough or it wasn’t the least bit sharp, because I forgot it was there except when I encountered it texturally. Regardless, no regrets on ordering it.

 

Maybe because it was so quiet or maybe because I ordered a few things plus a glass of wine, a manager-type dropped off a free cookie with my bill. I think she said it was their sunberry cookie, or something that sounded like that. With plans to have a chocolate chip cookie at the Whitney, I only had a bite to try. I also only had a bite because the name and presentation as a crispy cookie had me guessing I wouldn’t like it. I guessed right. But that’s because of my preferences. It was a sandwich cookie composed of two crispy buckwheat-tasting discs brought together with a tahini/sesame-flavoured butter and then adorned with sponge toffee. Don’t quote me on the flavours. I could be totally wrong, especially because I’m not a big fan of any of them. In any case, it was a very nice gesture. And such a gesture contributes to why I want to go back. If only for a loaf of bread and malted butter to go. Because like all good prairie girls, I may be able to stand up to the cold, but I also know when it’s time to just retreat into hibernation season and eat all of the carbs at home.

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