Appropriately, water is employed as the principal dÃ©cor motif at Waters Restaurant in Hudson. It bubbles inside the glass panels that lineAa the walls of the lobby and bar. It gushes and gurgles from the waterfall/grotto in one corner of the main dining room. Its babbling, splashing sounds reverberate off the hard surfaces of the cavernous main room.
The restaurant and its accompanying catering facility fill a vast complex on Darrow Road (state Route 91) that opened about three years ago. The restaurant recently weathered the departure of executive chef Marion Smith, but manager Jimmy Soutos says there’s still smooth sailing ahead with the kitchen skills of the remaining staff.
“All of the chefs are very talented, but also good friends,” he says. “They work wonderfully together and I think it’s the perfect fit for this restaurant.”
Diners at Waters get two menus: The “Classic Waters” menu lists the favorites and standards, while the “Fresh Waters” menu features seasonal items that change every 30 days or so. There are also lounge and patio menus, as well as nightly specials.
Food from both main menus is usually conscientiously prepared, but overall, the offerings lack innovation.
Take the appetizer selection, for example. Not counting soups, there are really only a couple choices. And they’re all pretty standard. Everything is good, but no ground-breakers here.
The spinach and artichoke “martini” ($8) combines spinach, artichoke and sour cream in a martini glass with crisply fried corn chips for dipping. While a shade spicier than most, it’s similar to what you can find all over town.
Calamari ($8) are lightly breaded and fried until crisp and golden brown. They’re tender, sweet and fresh. A sprinkling of fresh parsley and grated Parmesan complete the presentation.
The jumbo shrimp cocktail ($11) is served in a martini glass, garnished with a celery stick and bathed in a tangy seafood sauce that’s sparked with a dose of horseradish.
Soups include crab bisque ($8), French-style onion ($6) and a soup of the day: Predictably, that’s New England clam chowder on Fridays ($4). We tried the crab bisque and found it smooth and pleasant. While the broth was a bit light on crab flavor, a generous sprinkling of shredded crab meat saved the day.
All entrÃ©es at Waters come with a mixed green salad consisting of iceberg lettuce with a few leaves of baby spinach and arugula, sliced black olives and plenty of finely sliced onions.
The last we checked, the jury was still out on the endangered status of Chilean sea bass. Following the lead of our president, who chooses to side with those who deny global warming, we too chose to ignore the doomsday prophets and ordered an entrÃ©e of Chilean sea bass ($30) from Waters’ “Classic” menu. A thick chunk of this luscious fish is seasoned with mango dust and grilled to a flaky, succulent turn. The sea bass rests on a bed of creamy lobster-flavored mashed potatoes. If your conscience will allow, this is a stellar dish.
If you’re in the mood for fish but seeking more sustainable species, try the salmon with lemon chive butter ($22).
Sticking with the “Classic” menu on one visit, we tried the 10-ounce filet mignon ($31). We found it perfectly cooked and full-flavored. One minor complaint: The accompanying bÃ©arnaise sauce was rather thin and short on tarragon flavor.
Other favorite “Classic” items include walleye dusted with white cheddar and chives ($21) and veal Oscar — the ever-popular combination of veal, crab, asparagus and bÃ©arnaise sauce ($27).
From the “Fresh Waters” menu, we can certainly recommend the grilled lamb chops ($28). You’ll get five bite-sized loin chops. Ours were grilled perfectly medium-rare as ordered, moistened with a rich demi-glace and served on a bed of mashed potatoes flavored with flecks of sun-dried tomato.
The grilled rib-eye and shrimp combination ($29), served as a special, stars a bone-in rib-eye (known in some parts as a “cowboy steak”). Purists insist meat cooked on the bone is juicier and more flavorful than boneless cuts, and they may be right. This steak was certainly full of flavor. The kitchen cooked it perfectly, and crowned its version of surf and turf with a skewer of four plump grilled shrimp, a generous slathering of a compound butter and a mound of garlic mashed potatoes. It would have been a perfect presentation, if the potatoes were not so salty as to be almost inedible.
For dessert, consider the “chocolate sin.” It’s a rich concoction of chocolate cake drizzled with Grand Marnier and layered with chocolate mousse, then coated with chocolate ganache ($7). If you’re not that into chocolate, try the lemon pistachio cake for an intriguing combination of flavors ($6). Unless something changes, avoid the crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e. Not the rich, creamy French custard the menu promises, you’ll get something more like instant vanilla pudding. We sent ours back.
Choose Waters for usually well-made versions of standard items, excellent service and outstanding, very fairly priced drinks. A flawless and generous Bombay gin martini, for example, is priced at $5.75; a Belvedere vodka martini at $8.25. Sunday brunch is also a winner. The buffet typically includes a whole salmon, prime rib, sausage, bacon, plentiful fresh fruit and made-to-order waffles and omelets, all for $15.95 for adults, $7.95 for kids from 5 to 12. Little ones eat free.
Waters Restaurant and Banquet Facility, 5416 Darrow Road (just south of 303), Hudson, (330) 655-5555. Hours: Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Mon-Fri; Dinner: 4 - 9 p.m. Sun, 5:30 - 10 p.m. Mon-Thu, 5:30 - midnight Fri-Sat; Brunch buffet: 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sun; Most of the facility is easily accessible with restrooms and bar on the entry level.