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Restaurant Review: Sun, Moon & Spoon (3 Stars)

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You could meet the most gracious person in the world, and if it was five minutes after his car got towed…well, he just wouldn’t be at his best.

 

Take, for instance, The Sun, Moon & Spoon, an ambitious young restaurant in Hastings-on-Hudson. Open just a year and in an unusual location above the Hudson Valley Tennis Club, it is fast becoming a culinary destination with a chef, 29-year-old Jason Robison, capable of reaching celestial heights.

 

My introduction, however, wasn’t under the best of circumstances. The night before my reservation, a big snowstorm had dumped more than a foot of snow all over southern New York State. Playing it safe, the restaurant called to cancel our reservation about noon. We rebooked at another restaurant, but as we drove past The Hudson Valley Tennis Club that evening, Sun, Moon & Spoon sure looked open—and it was.

 

Trying to sort out what had happened, the hostess said she had left a second message. (My friends don’t check their machine much on Sunday.) With just ten minutes left until closing, she consulted with the chef and agreed to seat us—which I also thought was odd, considering the circumstances. And the late start affected the pacing of our meal. We ordered the tasting menu at $55, and ran through our five courses in one hour!

 

A lovely hour it was, though. First out was a small dish, compliments of the chef: a sprig of perfectly cooked asparagus wrapped in a meltingly rich piece of smoked salmon. It went perfectly with the Iron Horse California sparkling wine ($7 by the glass) we ordered before spotting a half-bottle of Talbott Chardonnay “Sleepy Hollow” ‘97 ($35) from Monterey. (Too late—they had already poured the wine.) The wine list is excellent: reasonably priced, large, and scattered with hard-to-find wines that only the best restaurants can get.

 

With its high timbered ceiling, roaring fire and roominess between tables, the dining room reminded me more of an expensive lodge in Big Sur than a restaurant in Westchester. A rich royal blue, the color of a night sky, makes the perfect background for the suns and moons found through every element of the decor.

 

A long, west-facing bank of windows offers a panoramic view of the Hudson—gorgeous at sunset—which can be seen from any seat in the restaurant. (The outdoor seating is extremely popular in summer.) Hundreds of Canadian geese and mallards flying in for a free meal are a spectacle at the end of the evening.

 

 The tasting offerings were available as entrées, so we decided that would be a good way to sample the menu. The wild mushroom ravioli with white truffle oil was truly heavenly—velvety hand-made pasta stuffed with finely chopped portobello and shiitake mushrooms, served in a dream sauce—I mean cream sauce, mushroom and shallot reduction sauce with a touch of cream and truffle oil. (I remember an article on the etiquette of dating that stupidly, I thought, cautioned girls not to lick the plate. Maybe it was written for just this occasion.)

 

The most important element of great cooking is great ingredients, and the two strips of sautéed snapper over Swiss chard were exquisitely good with their golden, crispy skins. An irresistible lemony buerre blanc was drizzled over the fish and tender little vegetables—baby carrots, Peruvian red potatoes and candy stripe beets. (I love a chef who prepares vegetables like he expects someone to eat them.) At the other end of the plate, hiding under a delicate cloud of radish sprouts, was a cool, creamy savory flan that seemed the very essence of corn. Adding to the pleasure of this dish were the Japanese-inspired plates: handmade, textured pottery in a rough, rectangular style, finished with a green glaze.

 

We paused for a lemon sorbet, served in a martini glass with a charming zigzag stem. Then it was on to the rack of lamb crusted with mustard and rosemary—two excellent chops that were pink and tender, but served too cool, with too much mustard. I loved the fava bean purée on the side. This is probably a great dish when the kitchen isn’t longing to get out the door.

 

Our desserts were playfully presented— little molds of ginger flan under a dramatically spiraling cone of hardened, caramelized sugar. This was definitely one of those presentations that make you work, but I enjoyed reaching through the confection, and breaking pieces off to eat.

Barely a year old, The Sun, Moon & Spoon could use some work on service and a few other details, but I still highly recommend a visit.

 

Go. But don’t go expecting that wild mushroom ravioli. “There will be a riot when I take that off the menu, but I’m taking it off!” Robison proclaims. He believes in completely changing his menu every two months, which can rile the regulars—until they start eating their way through the new menu. “They’ve learned to trust me,” he reports.

 

So you may have to settle for rib chops with lingonberry sauce, black pepper spaetzle and braised red cabbage, or lobster pot pie, or rabbit cassoulet. “It’s a shame that people stick with the same menu for five or ten years,” Robison sighs. “There is just so much good food to be cooked.”

 

SUN, MOON & SPOON

100 River St., Hastings-on-Hudson

(914) 478-4481

 

HOURS:

Lunch, Tue. to Fri. 11:30 am-2:30 pm

Dinner, Tue. to Thurs. 5:30-9 pm, Fri. and Sat. 5:30-10 pm, Sun. 4-8 pm

 

 

PRICES:

Appetizers: $5-$22

Entrées: $18-$32

Tasting menu: $55

Prix-fixe menus from $25 to $42

 

RATINGS:

Food—VVV

Service—VV

Decor—VVV

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