Delaware and Hudson
135 North 5th Street, Williamsburg
For a full-on feast priced under 50 bucks, you’re not going to do better than Delaware and Hudson, located in the old Egg space on North 5th in Williamsburg. Chef Patti Jackson’s four-course, $48 prix fixe menu was more like a nine-course dinner. The first course, a set of shared appetizers, could easily be spread over five courses. The menu changes weekly, but ours included deeply browned, salt-crusted pretzel rolls; a best-of-the-greenmarket selection of blanched baby vegetables with a little pot of herby ramp butter; crisp-tender asparagus wrapped in a flaky strudel, rich veal meatballs; and oyster croquettes, crunchy on the outside and creamy within. Our “second” course was a smoky, savory tangle of house-made noodles, chewy bits of bacon, and sweet peas.
By the time the main course came out, any notions we had that this would be a light summer meal had rolled under the table. Options for our seventh dish included a well seared filet of wild striped bass with sweet leeks and plump fava beans, a couple of thick, pink-centered lamb medallions with a garlicky nettle pesto, asparagus and petite, buttery roasted potatoes, or a “corn mush” with peas, leeks, pea shoots, fried egg—a dish we skipped but may have been more inclined to order if they’d just gone ahead and called it polenta. (The restaurant is named for an early American railway, so although the term “mush” brings Little Orphan Annie to mind, it also jives with the spirit of old-timey Mid-Atlantic food.) Had we known that two rounds of notable desserts would follow, we may have made a more concerted effort to save some room.
Jackson, who has been cooking professionally for 30 years, was originally trained as a pastry chef. In a borough where desserts often feel like an afterthought, hers brought a fine-dining finish to a meal that otherwise felt more like hearty, high-end home-cooking than haute cuisine. Our first dessert plate looked innocent enough—a pair of petite rhubarb panna cottas and two pretty little raspberry-almond tortes, but we weren’t going home until the chef herself rolled up with a ninth and final dish of tiny confections: cloudlike raspberry macarons lined up beside white chocolate bark studded with pink peppercorns, dark chocolate-caramel bon-bons touched with sea salt, and melt-in-your-mouth fruit jellies rolled in sparkling sugar. This tasting menu pushes a staggering amount of food, and it’s the only option available at dinnertime (though the kitchen will swap out dishes to accommodate dietary restrictions). For an a la carte sampling of Jackson’s specialties—say, Baltimore-style crab cakes or Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple—you’ll need to stop by for lunch or brunch.