Jen and Chef D
Anyone who has ever tried the “It’s Famous” chicken salad at RELISH DELIGHTS will know what I mean when I say that it is so good that I viscerally missed that chicken salad during the shutdown. You will rejoice to hear that Relish has rebooted and reopened for take-out!
COVID has taken our local restaurant scene for a loop, and Relish Delights opened at its Columbia Street location just five weeks before the shutdown, but “Chef D” – Dana Johnson – is all about reinvention. For the past three months, she has been running meals to the ER, ICU, and COVID floors at Columbia Memorial Hospital, time and skills pro bono with the support of community donations for supplies. As she put it to this reporter: “I purchased food with donations received and happily donated my time. It kept me cooking which made my soul smile!!“ Makes sense, given that the restaurant’s motto is Food is Love.
Relish re-opened and pivoted to transform much of its 40-seat dining space into a chefs’ pantry, replete with everything from farm fresh veggies, gnocchi, pad Thai and ramen noodles, to jars of her own spice blends. There are also two big cases full of the most interesting, well-curated beverage selection I’ve seen in a while. Lots of kombucha, seltzer, and organic iced tea — including the wonderful locally based Harney & Sons, as well as lines that are newer to me, like Dram seltzers (made in Denver).
Besides serving up her trademark breakfast and lunch sandwiches, paninis (the “lavish caprese” and “drew drools” are my favorites), salads, and the like (see the new menu here), many will be excited to know that Chef D has also carried over a tradition begun during the shutdown — DINNERS TO GO! Those are ever shifting and include a protein, a starch, and a veggie or salad course. They are displayed in the deli case and are posted to social media daily and include both meat based and veg protein options. I myself have been drooling over the crab cakes for days. Hard to beat a three course dinner in a box for $12!
Dinner to go! $12 – One Starch / One Veg / 1 Protein
Speaking of pivoting: Relish has one of the most robust socially distancing/COVID-prevention set ups that I’ve seen yet. As someone who is both absolutely thrilled that many of our restaurants are adapting and persisting in this storm — but isn’t yet comfortable going back to the “normal” of the past — I appreciated seeing the signage advising those who enter to wear a mask and to use “spaghetti arms” to socially distance 🙂 – as well as the floor markings, the plexiglass at the counter, and even an advisory to enter on Columbia Street but depart via the 8th Street exit. It’s worked seamlessly while I’ve been there. Call ahead to make the process even smoother (518-671-6230).
For those who recall Relish in one of its earlier incarnations, it’s like coming full circle, but better! Before Chef D crossed the river to come back to Hudson in February, Relish Delights was in Catskill. But before THAT (with a gap in between where she pursued perfecting her spice blends and private chef-ing), many of us recall the halcyon years in which Relish had a small but vibrant space here in Hudson, across from the Amtrak station. It was perfectly set up for efficient and delicious to-go orders, whether hopping the train — or, as I often used to do, grabbing something tasty and walking a block up the street to eat it at Promenade Park, overlooking the river.
While this new incarnation of Relish is way up at the other end of town, it is just around the corner from the 7th Street Park, so still perfect for takeout picnicking. Full circle! Relish now has two picnic tables outside on 8th Street, to dine ASAP and not even walk to the park.
While Relish has a range of options for both carnivores (best roast beef sandwich!) and vegetarians (best deviled egg sandwich!), they also go out of their way to be vegan-friendly (vegan cheese can be subbed in, and many items are vegan to begin with) and to accommodate other dietary restrictions. Just mention it when you order. If it weren’t for that addictive chicken salad, having Relish back in town might help me further down the vegan path myself!
757 Columbia Street, Hudson, NY, 12534. Monday-Friday 11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. 518-671-6230.