Sitting in an unpretentious speck of Dundas West, Hudson Kitchen was just enough off the beaten path throughout TIFF to spawn some of the most talked about cast dinners… but only after they’d already happened. Brad and Jenn, separately of course, had A-list feasts courtesy the kitchen helmed by Chef Robbie Hojilla. How a restaurant of its nature came to be such a hotbed of celebrity sightings weeks before it opened is of no surprise once you’ve dined at a table in this raw (decor) yet sophisticated (food) restaurant. Here’s why you need to plan a night there…
Chef Robbie’s Good Grooming
Any great restaurant starts with a great chef, and Sir Robert (note: not actually knighted for you I-take-everything-literally types) has pedigree as impressive as the Westminster Dog Show. Think Woodlot, URSA, Thuet, Centro, and the list goes on. His culinary prowess seems to know no bounds, with a creativity akin to David Bowie (interesting note: Bowie actually did turn down being knighted). What can I say? When ya got good grooming, people take note.
Toronto Aesthetic 2.0
You know that time when you walked into a restaurant on Ossington, ordered a glass of vino while waiting for a friend, and then realized you were at the wrong restaurant and the shutter-happy folk on Urbanspoon had led you astray thanks to too many mentions of exposed brick and chrome lighting? How were you to know said restaurant wasn’t different than the one you had intended. They’re all starting to look the same, nescafe? Hudson Kitchen doesn’t necessarily break the mould so much as reinvent it. It still has that industrial/raw/chic amalgamation that’s everso a la mode, however it doesn’t fall into the same categorical ‘Toronto aesthetic’ that’s so been-there-done-that. It’s distressed, looking more like the remnants of a reno-gone-bad. But it doesn’t look… bad. On the contrary, this pseudo-416 Snack Bar rawness sets a tonality and rustic quality that contrasts heavily with the beautifully plated objects sashaying out of the kitchen.
Speaking of… did you scroll through that gallery above? (I’ll leave you a moment to do so now…) The plating at Hudson Kitchen is stunning. Vibrant pops of colour imbue the dishes with an awe-inducing quality, while the intermingling flavours and uses of sophisticated techniques bring a depth of dining that’s laudable. The Albacore Tuna Crudo sits beneath paper-thin slices of fermented radish and a dusting of hazelnut. Slowly revealing the bite-sized squares of tuna hidden under the radish has a ‘lost and found’ evocation about it. Same goes for the Steelhead Trout, under which a puree with raisins adds a subtle sweetness that melds beautifully with the small dollop of brown butter. Each dish is an experiential exercise, like meeting someone wholly superficial only to discover layers of emotional intrigue…