Pete Wells is Pleased by Delaware and Hudson

The Williamsburg restaurant and its chef receive one star and high praise from The New York Times’ restaurant critic
Green Tomato Pie
Credit: facebook/delawareandhudson
Green Tomato Pie

Pete Wells is a man of many surprises, and this week he didn’t disappoint, beginning his review of Williamsburg newcomer Delaware and Hudson with a question to the reader: “Are you hungry, right now, for green tomatoes baked in a pie?”

It seems chef and owner of the eatery, Patti Jackson, has gone one step further in the popular farm-to-table movement; not only does she locally source her ingredients, she then uses them in recipes native to the region. As Wells points out, “At this point, it’s hard to find a New York chef who doesn’t cook with ingredients from the mid-Atlantic, but ones who draw on the region’s recipes are much more unusual.”

 The critic quickly describes the décor, which follows the sure-fire format of just about every Brooklyn farm-to-table establishment, “The tables are bare wood. The ceiling rafters are exposed. Pickle jars sit above the kitchen door. The walls are pinned with glamour shots of farmers’ market bins piled with strawberries and purple-tipped asparagus.” He makes sure, however, to stress how Jackson is the force behind the imaginative weekly menus, and also pays the chef a great compliment, explaining that “Her four-course $48 set menus are drawn from her life, and their personal point of view helps make Delaware and Hudson so winning.”

Wells then gives details of the food items he enjoyed, like the pretzel rolls, Miss Rose’s crab cakes (Jackson worked under the famed chef early in her culinary career), a salad of string beans and creamy new potatoes in vinegar and warm bacon fat, sweet pea ravioli in a butter sauce with slivers of Virginia ham, and “fresh spaghetti in a quick sauce of ripe tomatoes and basil dotted with milky ricotta got the dish, which often goes wrong, exactly right.” He applauds the less-rigid treatment of the food that is uncommon in a restaurant that prides itself on its ingredients, but admits, “This is its charm and sometimes its weakness, too.” He lists a few missteps, such as pasta that was clumped as if left too long without sauce, “dense and bland” corn mush, and uncooked ratatouille. He didn’t really mind these though, as “These slumps may soften my recommendation, but they weren’t enough to knock any of my meals seriously off-track. Any bad impressions were wiped out by a half-dozen good ones, by a duck breast with rhubarb or a hunk of wild striped bass with yellow cherry tomatoes cooked just until they wilted.”

At the very end, the restaurant critic waxes philosophical about Jackson’s culinary ideology, which drives Delaware and Hudson: “Why two desserts? Why four appetizers? I think it’s the generosity implied by the out-of-print cookbooks Ms. Jackson reads… by the old way of cooking to fill people up and make them happy at the same time.” He pays his chef-crush one last compliment: “Finally, a plate of four mignardises arrives… The plate is always delivered by Ms. Jackson with the smile good cooks have when they know everyone will leave the table happy.”

Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.

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