Nestled alongside Tappan Golf Center in Tappan, NY, one of the country’s largest golf facilities, is Hudson 303 Sport Cafe, a restaurant opened less than one year ago by Tappan Golf Center’s William Cho and apparel manufacturing executive Daniel Leung. Tappan Golf attracts people from Westchester, Connecticut, Rockland, New York and its boroughs and naturally New Jersey. Its onsite NOVOGOLF, a Top 100 custom club fitting facility, services customers from all over the world. Cho decided a few years ago that a restaurant was needed at the facility. Vending machine options and soggy sushi weren’t viable options. This large scale driving range with a championship caliber miniature golf, NOVOGOLF custom club fitting, batting cage, go-karts and a swanky pro shop needed a quality eatery that worked equally well for the hacker in khakis and sneakers and suited up executives meeting for a business lunch. Cho, a Bergen County, NJ resident and also affiliated with Closter Golf Center, NJ, set out to create a restaurant that was appealing to both — man-friendly enough to attract golfers who would grab a burger and beer solo and attractive enough that women would be drawn to it as a dining destination.
So, Cho built a restaurant and designed a menu with his favorite foods. The process would take months to complete and while he is still making tweaks, he’s largely satisfied, and with good reason.
Hudson 303 has shown itself, from multiple visits, to be turning out quality, innovative and distinctive food. The vibe is upscale sports bar with eight large flat screens visible from every angle. The dining room and adjacent bar are places one could tuck into a nicely prepared burger without companionship and strike up a conversation with others. A handful of high tops at the entrance of the restaurant are inviting to hackers fresh from the hitting bays (heated in winter).
Inside the dining room, banquettes offer comfortable seating to larger parties and smaller tables dot the intimate area, which offers views of the miniature golf pitch and putt area outdoors. Future plans include outdoor seating in this area. The handsome wood paneled, mirrored and stone bar is sleek, stylish yet low-key, offering over 20 draft selections emphasizing small regional brewers, top shelf liquors and hard cider, an appreciated gluten-free option.
The menu is diverse, with a broad selection of starters, deep dish and thin crust pizzas, tacos, multiple sandwiches, pastas, burgers and entrees anchored by seafood, free range chicken and beef. Everything is freshly made on premises using the highest quality ingredients and it shows, from sauces to croutons to ketchup and mayonnaise. A Hudson 303 standout is Steak Frites, a 16 oz. nicely grilled rib eye cut served with a stack of hand cut fries, generous portion of butter and shallot sautéed haricot vert and seductively smooth bearnaise. At $19, it’s a steal and a delicious one at that. Cho is obsessed with burgers and Hudson’s meat is custom blended for the beef burgers, making them juicy and flavorful. Sliders come 4 on a plate with fries starting at $9. Sliders are offered in turkey, pulled pork, filet mignon and straight up beef varieties.
Burgers start at $9, hefty at half a pound and come with a rich array of toppings. Sliders, the daintier option, come with fries and pickle (starting at $9), three to plate in beef, pulled pork, turkey and filet mignon. For quick, non-messy bites, sliders make a great treat. Burgers, like other items on Hudson 303′s menu, are all about quality ingredients.
Jumbo free range wings ($9) are not to be missed. They are messy, as a good wing should be, and worth it. Salt and pepper with a dash of Tabasco, Soy Ginger or Voodoo (a trumped up Buffalo) are meaty and succulent and are served with a flavorful blue cheese dressing (housemade like all sauces and dressings). Get a generously portioned, crispy Caesar salad ($8) with ciabatta crostini to cool your mouth down before heading on to entrees. Creative sandwich classics are offered, thoughtfully rendered to appeal to young and older patrons.
Roasted chicken (free range; $14) is one of Cho’s delicious comfort food options served with scallion mashed potatoes, along with Chicken Pot Pie, which is an occasional special and good. Hudson 303 is turned out straight forward, honest cooking. Short ribs are delicious, fork tender and have become one of Hudson 303′s more popular items. They are a tribute to Cho’s wife’s Korean ancestry and are a tasty marriage of sweet and savory. Pasta standouts are the Rigatoni Vodka ($11), with a killer creamy tomato and vodka-kissed sauce flecked with chewy chunks of prosciutto and fresh basil, and addictive Mac and Cheese ($9), gooey goodness thanks to a blend of multiple cheeses and topped with buttery toasted panko crumbs. Seafood entrees are offered, from a zesty paella ($19) chock full of clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp and chorizo over saffron rice to stuffed cod with crab cake ($18).
A visit to Hudson 303 Sport Cafe is highly recommended, with or without your sticks. Cho is a regular presence, warmly greeting patrons and deeply committed to their satisfaction. This restaurant is kid-friendly earlier in the evening. Illy coffee is served and all desserts are made on premises. The warm apple crumble is my favorite with cheesecake a close second.
Hudson 303 Sport Cafe
116 Route 303
Tappan, New York 10983
at the Tappan Golf Center
Phone: (845) 848-2441
* Bar hours will vary