There’s no questioning the quality of the meat at Hudson. The restaurant, which opened seven years ago in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood of north Tel Aviv, has only improved and become more professional over the years. The meat is dry aged and the grilling technique is precise, resulting in some of the country’s best steaks.
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This carnivorous pleasure costs a pretty penny, of course. That’s just how it is – quality meat is an expensive affair in Israel. At least the meat justifies the price at Hudson, which can’t be said for every meat restaurant at this price point.
The catch is the lunchtime menu. In Israel, it’s standard for restaurants to offer a less expensive lunch deal. Here, Hudson doesn’t fare so well.
Its lunch menu includes the same entrées, with a soup or salad, and a lemonade or iced tea, included for the price. There are also a few appetizers offered in smaller portions for a discount, and some discounted alcohol too.
But the side salads left us unimpressed. The tossed salad felt like a small snack – not large enough to call an appetizer. It’s true, people go to Hudson for the meat, and you don’t need much more than a few standard side dishes in order to reinforce the feeling of satisfaction from a 300-gram steak. But you do expect that these side dishes will be well composed, particularly given the price, and given that the servings of meat are not massive compared to what you’re paying – 158 shekels (about $40) for that 300-gram (10.5 ounces) steak.
The side salad contained overly bitter leaves, and the mashed potatoes contained hidden chunks of potato that hadn’t been mashed. The coleslaw – another side dish served with the main courses – was a bit better: it contained a few peanuts so that it could be called “Vietnamese,” and had an overly sweet dressing. It, too, was too small to be considered an appetizer.
Great degree of skill
And then the entrecte showed up. It’s true there’s a problem with red meat in Israel, which makes every encounter with a good steak an emotional occasion. But this steak didn’t just earn its plaudits due to the poor quality of other steaks. The quality of steak at Hudson is tricky to find, even abroad. It’s not just a matter of quality meat and careful aging; the steak showcases a great degree of skill in how it is cut and grilled.
A good entrecte is a fat entrecte. An excellent entrecte is one where the internal fat has melted into the meat, grilled to a precise degree of doneness without being burnt. At Hudson, you can order your steak medium and receive a steak that’s delicate and soft, with the rich range of flavors that a properly cooked steak should have.
In this case, the steak vanished off the plate, leaving us sorry that it was only 300 grams.
We also ordered Hudson’s famous sloppy Joe sandwich as another main dish (71 shekels). It’s worth marveling over the fact that a quality meat restaurant is also well-known for what’s essentially a low-class American dish. This sloppy Joe is well executed, with good quality meat and a delicate sauce; it doesn’t fall into the category of Bolognese sauce doused in ketchup, like so many other sloppy Joes. This sandwich included an excellent bun that soaked up the liquids. This, too, was a dish where we would have happily received a larger serving.
The service was excellent, too. The restaurant had an impressive ratio of servers to diners, and there were no unnecessary delays. The whole meal took 40 minutes from start to finish.
But the bottom line is that the lunch menu doesn’t really justify a special trip to the area. The high-tech workers who work in the neighborhood may not have other local options if they want a good steak for lunch, but for the rest of us, we might as well wait until dinnertime.
Hudson, 27 Habarzel, Ramat Hahayal, Tel Aviv, 03-644-4733. Lunch menu available Sunday-Thursday, 12-5 P.M.