Every morning for the past twelve years – Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall – weather permitting, I walk with my dog down the hill from my home at the western end of town to the riverfront. Our walk gives me the opportunity to observe the evolving landscape of South Front Street. Of particular interest is the group of red buildings directly across the street from the Amtrak station. My first memory of the buildings was of a two-story with a downstairs café, an attached antiques store and upstairs apartments – and a next-door pole barn filled to the brim with antiques.
In 2019, Ben Fain dba, South Front Street Holdings bought both buildings. The two-story building was the first to be renovated was called Kitty’s before I knew what would happen there. While the exterior architecture remained the recognizable red building that landmarked my morning walks, the interior spaces were turned into a café, a neighborhood bodega – albeit one with several high-end grocery choices – an upstairs private dining area; and a full, downstairs restaurant.
On the café’s opening day I was happy to see that their coffee maker was a made-in-Italy, La Marzocco – which for my taste buds makes the best espresso. As long as you feed it the right beans. A small, but well-selected case of in-house made pastries added a reason for me to make a stop at the café not only for my choice of an espresso on the rocks, but also for a sometimes a slice of gluten-free (you’d never guess it) carrot-coconut cake or a buckwheat chocolate chip cookie.
One day, a little over three years ago the pole barn was carefully dismantled, piece by piece, each beam coddled in reams of tissue paper – or so I imagined- and sent to Maine to be restored, until it was shipped back to Hudson, piece by piece and put back together like the most elaborate jigsaw puzzle. Ever. It was the construct of the puzzle that entertained my morning walks for several years. I could only guess what was happening inside. Rumors flew around town. What’s happening in there? The Caboose, an events and retail space.
Kitty’s restaurant, opened – then closed in the summer. Nicole LoBue who is no stranger to Hudson was hired as the new chef. (Stayed tuned for more info on the restaurant when it opens in a few weeks, or a month.) Add to the deeply mysterious machinations of the growing Kitty’s empire – a new pastry chef was hired to satisfy every sweet tooth in town. Suzanne Nelson has updated the café’s old favorites and contributed a whole new selection of baked goods.
For my first taste I selected her plum, oat and spelt scone thinking with the combination of ingredients, if nothing else it would make a good, and healthy breakfast. Oh boy, healthy breakfast. Yes. Delicious, full of moist flavor – it was impossible to put down. The updated crullers include flavors as Vietnamese coffee, blackberry sumac, and maple cardamom. There are condensed milk muffins that taste like a fine dulce de leche cake, and an almond cornmeal one that has seasonal fruit in it. There’s a slice of spicy ginger cake, and a sour cream, feta and herb savory scone. The selections may change at chef’s whim – you get the idea.
Susan Simon is a James Beard award- winning cookbook author.
Her ninth book, The Cook and The Rabbi- recipes and stories to Celebrate Jewish Holidays has just been published. (CountrymanPress, September 5th, 2023).
She’s lived in Hudson since 2011.