Where is it?
It's a location you'd think most restaurateurs would sell their grandmothers for.
Right down on the Strand, with big windows facing out towards the Three Graces, this little spot on the Beetham Plaza is surely one of the prime sites for a restaurant.
For some time it was Simply Heathcotes, but when that outfit left, it became Home, run by the guys behind Puschka. That didn't last as long as many of us would have hoped, and for some time the big glass fronted unit on the little square at the bottom of Brunswick Street has been empty.
It's now been brought back to life in the guise of Hudson House, a seafood restaurant with big ambitions ?and some even bigger prices.
Its website describes 'a restaurant full of opulence', and with seafood platters that cost in the region of £85 each, a meal here can certainly turn into a lavish affair.
Can I afford to go here?
Fear not, not everything is in that price range. Most of the menu is of a more reasonable price range, with starters round about the £9 mark and mains starting at £16 and going up ?and up.
For those of you doing the sums in your heads now and still thinking that sounds a little steep, there is now a set price lunchtime menu, which is competitive.
When my wife and I visited, however, that menu hadn't been brought in, so we had to sample the delights of the main menu. It's a tough gig, I know, but given that the lunchtime menu will be to a greater or lesser extent derived from the main stable of dishes, our experience should offer an insight into the quality and variety you can hope to experience here.
Are the surroundings as grand as the menu?
Very much so. The whole front facing out onto Beetham Plaza is made entirely of glass, so this is a very light and fresh environment. The crisp white linen and the sparkle of the silverware from the afternoon sun invokes a sense of being by the water.
You can very much imagine this restaurant looking out over, well, the Hudson River, as much as being near to the Mersey. There is, of course, a grand piano to add to that upstate New York feel.
Is the menu exclusively seafood?
Not exclusively, although the other options are a little limited. There wasn't much available for my vegetarian wife, but credit to them, they did manage to come up with a starter they were preparing for a function taking place that night, which meant she didn't have to just sit there eating olives and bread while I devoured my dishes.
To begin with, I had to go for the Potted Shrimp (£8.75). While many of the other options appealed, this I could be sure of was as local as many of the dishes could get, given the shrimps were from Southport.
They were sweet, firm to the bite and thankfully not overwhelmed with butter, and served with an excellent pickled cucumber side and brioche toast. The presentation was faultless, too, and I could have easily eaten twice as much. However, with another couple of courses to come, I was happy just to have been tantalised in advance of the main event.
For Jade, it was a cream of truffle soup (£8.75). It was possibly the richest starter she had ever tried, and so thick the spoon practically stood up in it.
The truffle flavour was so strong we could smell it before it even came into view. A little on the over concentrated side, the soup could have done with being thinned out considerably, but given they'd improvised for us, we couldn't really complain.
So that's the starters, what about the mains?
I could easily have tackled any one of the options on the menu. Sole, sea bass, salmon, lobster, I'll eat the lot. But on this occasion it was the cod loin (£16.50) that called out to me, and particularly the Parisian potatoes and pickled fennel that came with it.
'Would you like to order any side vegetables?' the waiter asked me. From my experience of eating in restaurants like this, that question is actually a statement of the fact that you most definitely are going to need to order something else to make this feel like a substantial dish. So I chose a side of seasonal veg to be safe.
When my main dish arrived, I was in no doubt that this was the right thing to do. While beautifully presented, the dish was on the small side. In newspaper design, they call all that blank space 'creative white space', and judging by my plate, this was the most creative plate ever made.
The loin was understandably on the small side, and the Parisian potatoes ?all six of them ?hardly added much in the way of back up. Still, you could not fault the flavour. The fish was flaky but perfectly moist, with none of that touch of transparency that makes you suspicious it's not been cooked for long enough.
The fennel, a beautiful flavour that I know is not to everyone's taste, added that clean, liqorice note, and the potatoes, soft on the inside with a crisp, fried shell, were superb too.
The seasonal veg (which to my surprise included samphire which we don't normally see on the beaches until late summer, early autumn round here) was just at the right point between firm and tender).
What about the vegetarian option?
That was a decidedly more substantial dish, a Mushroom Wellington (£12.95). It was a slightly unusual option, and a welcome one given the plethora of risottos and goats cheese tarts that often fill the solitary veggie spot on otherwise meat and fish-based menus.
To be somewhat unkind one might say it looked at first glance like a Sayers' sausage roll, but appearances aren't everything.
Inside the long thin tube of pastry there were very tasty wild mushrooms, but it seemed to have been padded out with cous cous, which seemed an odd decision. While the starter had been packed with almost too much flavour, the main course was somewhat lacking.
And for dessert?
These were excellent. For hers Jade chose poached pear with candid walnuts (£6.95) on the waiter's recommendation. This consisted of a whole conference pear poached in red wine with aromatic star anise, and a blob of sorbet and plenty of sweet, crunchy and sugary walnuts on the side.
On the appearance front, it might have done better to be served pre-sliced, as the site of the tubular pink, fleshy pear standing proudly upright on the plate raised a couple of titters.
I opted for the rhubarb and apple fool (£6.95)), an inspired choice from both a presentation and taste perspective. The beautiful, silky and creamy top gave way to the tangy and fruity pulp below, and the purple edible flower and raspberry on top added a beautiful touch of colour.
So overall a success?
Overall, this was a pleasant meal, although the disparity between the sizes of some of the portions needs working on. To have one dish arrive on the table that is akin to a fine-dining portion, while another is a substantial plateful of food, sends out a bit of a mixed message.
The bill was a little on the steep side, having factored in the side veg that really should have been part of the main dish, and especially given the mandatory service charge which added another £7 on top.
When it's quiet, as it was when we visited, and you are guaranteed attentive service (which we got), you may not mind it too much, but as this restaurant grows in popularity and the staff find themselves stretched over many tables, this compulsory levy might grate with some customers.
Need to Know:
Venue: Hudson House, Beetham Plaza, 25 The Strand, Liverpool, L2 0JX
Details of Meal: Excellent, fresh and high quality seafood
Service: Very friendly, accommodating
Value: Reasonable. Prices a little steep, obligatory service charge added onto menu
Disabled Access: Yes