There’s no bar at High Street on Hudson, owner Ellen Yin and chef-owner Eli Kulp’s effusively welcoming all-day West Village restaurant and bakery, but its cocktails hold secrets to the place nonetheless. Take the harvest highball, fennel-infused vodka embellished with soda water, tart apple shrub, and a heavy dose of celery bitters — the latter bringing to mind Cel-Ray, the locally produced celery-flavored soda from Dr. Brown’s, a favorite of delis across the city. It’s an ingenious nod to New Yorkers from this Philadelphian team, who settled in to their cozy corner space on Hudson Street last December.
It’s a good thing the bar is missing. It means there’s room for comfortably spaced seating and an open kitchen with an L-shaped counter; for the three-tier oven that anchors baker Alex Bois’s ambitious operation; and for the front nook, where his formidable pastries and breads (hard-crusted genzano loaves, tart Meyer lemon cream puffs, and red-eye danishes that layer country ham with espresso-tinged custard) are sold.
On the morning menu, you’ll find egg sandwiches stacked with bold breakfast meats, from Lancaster beef bologna to pastrami and malted sausages. The latter appear in cheesy biscuits, an ode to our city’s bodegas, and as part of a full breakfast next to eggs, toast, coppa, broccoli rabe, and Old Bay spuds. Cured-fish offerings range from beet-cured salmon served with celery cream cheese in pretzel rolls to smoked whitefish dotted with charred scallions and piled into squid-ink-and-sesame-seed bialys.
For lunch, submarine-style sandwiches pay homage to Philly, especially one with roast pork, provolone, and fermented greens (which offer up a sour kick). Another daytime star is a hulking quartet of duck meatballs garnished with melted cheddar and a heady mix of spicy marinara, duck liver spread, and onions.
There’s also plenty of high-wire creativity on the dinner menu, which debuted in late January. The brainchild of Kulp, culinary director Jon Nodler, and chef de cuisine Taylor Naples, it comprises fourteen plates suggested for sharing and a trio of bread options, including vollkornbrot, a seeded German rye topped with charred rutabaga hummus, and anadama, a cornmeal and molasses loaf paired with spicy radishes and broiled and oil-poached eel. A sampling of breads costs $8. If New Yorkers used to cringe at the thought of paying for bread service, consider it a testament to Bois that his highly flavored whole-grain handiwork acts as the foundation for two stellar appetizers.
Kulp, a veteran of Torrisi Italian Specialties and Del Posto who garnered national acclaim in Philly, sustained spinal injuries in last year’s Amtrak derailment. The accident didn’t stop him from opening High Street on Hudson, nor has it thwarted his talent for pushing the envelope. This is especially true of the pastas. There are sunflower seeds cooked like risotto; tubes of paccheri served with buffalo meat sauce, watercress, and fresh Cloumage cheese; and seaweed-infused bucatini clarified by briny mussels, squid, and lobster roe bottarga.
You can cobble a meal together from small plates, spring for a $65 tasting menu, or have a standard three-courser. Entrées are imaginative, pairing crispy duck with oats softened in buttermilk and arctic char with mustard greens. And unlike many of the city’s birds-for-two, Kulp’s $48 honey-glazed fowl is strong on homey charm, plated with malted potato rolls, chicken liver, and both tangy chicken-skin caesar and sprouted three-bean salads.
Kulp and co. deftly flavor desserts with tahini and turn the morning menu’s ginger yogurt into sorbet. The rye-caraway ice cream is a standout, whether in an affogato during lunch or sprinkled with candied kumquats and crumbled malt graham crackers at dinner — proving once again that here, it’s all about the bread.
High Street on Hudson
637 Hudson Street, 917-388-3944