Alfresco ‘dining’ at The Hudson Hotel

The Hudson Hotel in Edinburgh’s West End is Festival Inns’ latest and most central venture. The complex boasts 31 hotel rooms, a bar and nightclub; imaginatively titled ‘The Hudson Bar’ and ‘The Hudson Club’, respectively. Of interest to me on Sunday though were the 6 tables outside the Hudson Hotel on Hope St and the food plus drink on offer. This little piece of cafe culture has a great location, with Charlotte Square gardens just a short distance away and a view onto the west of Princes St.

Well, despite decent weather we were the only two people sat down outside. I was a little confused whether we would be served at the table or not. A little sentence with reference to “your server” on the menu hanging up on the outside wall seemed to clarify matters, so we sat down and waited. Just under five minutes in all, until a pleasant kilt wearing guy (all male staff wear a kilt at The Hudson Hotel) came out to take our drinks order. Disappointingly the only draft lagers seemed to be Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export: given the setting I thought a pint of at least Kronenburg, if not Peroni would have been in order. And this is symptomatic of so much with Festival Inns. Their venues often ooze style in the furnishings and location, but lack the quality ingredients to make them truly decent.

Pavement seating outside The Hudson Hotel, Edinburgh Menu at The Hudson Hotel, Edinburgh

Our drinks duly came, along with a receipt that was pushed under the circular money tray on our table. “I’ll be back to get that in a moment” was our servers words. When he finally returned I asked, although had presumed there would be no need for my intervention, to see the menu. This duly followed and came in a neatly presented sleeve, that immediately blew away in the ever strengthening Edinburgh wind. The five starters range from soup of the day (¬£3.65) to crab, white fish and parsley fish cakes (¬£5.25). While the mains go from sandwiches or baked potatoes (¬£4.95) to pasta, noodles and fajitas. There’s a decent selection, but still typical bar fare.

I elected for the Hudson burger with fries (¬£7.95) and added lanark blue cheese to this for an extra 50p. My dining partner tried the udon noodles with king prawn (¬£8.95). Our order was taken and out came another receipt that, yes you’ve guessed it, our drinks server (who had now evolved to a waiter) said he would be “back to get in a moment”. It did seem a strange concept to be served at the table yet have pay my bill before the food arrived. But I duly obliged; perhaps bill evasion in this end of town is rife! A problem with the wireless card reader, that was reported to me after my card had been out of sight for approx. 10 minutes (not great!), meant having to fill out the trusty hand written payment slip.

Hudson burger with lanark blue cheese at The Hudson Hotel, Edinburgh Udon noodles with King prawns at The Hudson Hotel, Edinburgh

However, eventually out came the pre-paid food: it was competent pub grub. The noodles weren’t the largest serving you will ever see, and I would still have been hungry after eating them. However they did taste fairly good, if not a little heavy on the sauce. The burger was served in a basket and sesame seed bun. The beef burger, sourced from the Campbell brothers butchers according to the menu, was decent; yet I would much prefer the Aberdeen Angus burger available on Oloroso’s bar menu for a similar price. The fries were stick thin and evidently cooked from frozen. Have to say I didn’t enjoy them too much, but the burger itself provided a filling and adequately tasty treat.

Overall the meal was fine, nothing more and nothing less and The Hudson Hotel’s location will attract casual drinkers who will happily munch away on their food. The staff were nice, polite and friendly - although maybe a little inexperienced (hopefully offset by the The Hudson Hotels recent opening and the fact their team will still be finding their feet). By the time we left, all other outdoor seats were taken, although it wasn’t at all busy inside.

I only briefly glimpsed the inside of The Hudson Hotel/Bar, but it reminds me very much of the Polwarth Taverns interior (another Festival Inns venue). Walnut and copper furnishings are present throughout the bar and Plasma screens built into the walls out the back were showing Sky News when I walked past. The bathroom had stainless steel fittings and the West End synonymous Molton Brown handwash.

Like the food quality/selection at most Festival Inns operations I think it could be better, but it certainly ain’t bad. The Hudsons central location and very pleasant pavement seating will ensure it does good trade.

One Response to “Alfresco ‘dining’ at The Hudson Hotel”

  1. Rock Hudson Rock! I miss it, a great place to while away an afternoon, the burgers really are good!

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