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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 8:00am–midnight
Fri 8:00am–1:00am
Sat 5:00pm–1:00am
Sun 10:00am–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, live music, outdoor dining, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


West End
2030 M St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 872-8700
A lounge with an ambitious beverage program; if only the restaurant would follow suit

If the menu at Hudson looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it all before: derivative “contemporary comfort food” items such as seared scallops, iceberg wedge salad, brick-oven pizzas, upscale fried chicken, and gourmet mac and cheese. At best, the food is serviceable: scallops have a golden-brown exterior yielding to a tender interior, and the accompanying applewood-smoked bacon and mushrooms add a welcome savory dimension. Deviled eggs are tasty and just the right consistency (and thanks to many family get-togethers, we know how easy it is to mess up a deviled egg). But execution problems have plagued the kitchen. Pizzas have a chewy crust. Steak on a salad has come chewy, too.

More importantly, aren’t we tired of all this? It’s not as though the ingredients are local and organic; there’s no fun with classic European cuisine (but thankfully, no hyper-zealous fusions, either). What is Hudson’s bringing to the table that we don’t already have in abundance? Okay, pretty good matzoh-ball soup that tastes light and healthy, but what else?

The real answer is served up in the sleek and stunning lounge, where a striped carpet and beige suede chairs bathe in the pale pink light emanating from behind the bar. A curving banquette cordons this space off from the dining room. It’s a stylish setting for a girls’ night out with Hudson’s ambitious beverage program, which is the real reason to come here. A seasonally changing cocktail list employs infusions, mixers, and garnishes that are made in-house—everything from dried strawberry slices to tonic water. One drink combines lemon-infused vodka with a touch of rye and mint in a summery, sweet tartness. A diverse and relatively well-chosen wine list is acceptable, and at times even transcends its competition.

While the participation in the cocktail renaissance is applause-worthy, we cannot understand the beer selection: $7 Corona? Pabst Blue Ribbon in a can for $5? Is this a joke? Offer one free with every meal, if you want to be ironic. We’ll just stick to the cocktails—especially at happy hour, when $25 pitchers of Hudson’s signature white sangría-margarita hybrid go even farther to make the food better, at least in our foggy memories.

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