Bold Flavors and Big Wines at Luxe Domain Hudson

New owners Michael and Beth Ross redirect this fine-dining mainstay on the Wilmington restaurant scene.



The sweet corn agnolotti with morels and fava beans.

Domaine Hudson 1314 N. Washington St., Wilmington, 655-9463, domainehudson.com
Recommended Dishes quail terrine, black garlic cavatelli, grilled lamb loin
Prices Appetizers/small plates: $10-$14, entrées: $24-$36

No restaurant in Delaware embodies Wyeth-country elegance so pitch-perfectly as little Domaine Hudson.

The worldly opulence. The love of fine art, fine wine, and fine horses. The melding of Victorian and country grace that feels equal parts inviting and private. All the signifiers we connect with Brandywine Valley polite society were woven into the restaurant’s fabric since its inception nine years ago in a back pocket of Wilmington’s business district. For the DuPont trustee with the 900-bottle cellar, or the 9-to-5er with a box of Franzia sweating in the trunk, Domaine Hudson has been there to impart high-end excellence and sophistication.

In new owners Michael[1] and Beth Ross—who took over in 2011—the restaurant gained new life and direction straight from its wheelhouse. Renowned veterinary horse doctors and world-travelers from Chadds Ford, the Rosses seem like natural fits. Though the couple slimmed down and un-busied some of the dining room’s more ornate decorative flourishes, they remain devoted to sharing great wine from a seemingly endless cellar, and robust, forward-thinking cuisine[2].

In-between the plates of cloth-bound Cabot with oaked honey and shaved apples, and the glass of 2008 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia [3]“super Tuscan”—nary a beat feels missed. The Rosses know and love their wine, and the restaurant’s legendary list—a staggering 475 labels long at last count—is now sensibly organized in an iPad by variety, year, price, and origin, with sommelier and former-chef Roger Surpin acting as its encyclopedic tour guide.

Together with recently installed chef Dwain Kalup, the team keeps Domaine Hudson buzzing. Kalup is no stranger to treating the region’s literati, having served dutifully in all three kitchens of Xavier Teixido’s Harry’s Hospitality Group[4]and winning the praises of culinary school instructors and Zagat raters.

Left to right: Executive chef Dwain Kalup; The grilled New York strip steak is served with roasted eggplant purée, cashew-cilantro pesto, cured kohlrabi and a balsamic-soy reduction; The white sangria Riesling sorbet is served with a pear-melon compote,
crispy crepe and strawberries.

 

His challenge at Domaine Hudson is crafting a menu that suits the restaurant’s lofty reputation and atmosphere—without succumbing to stuffiness or pretentiousness. So far so good. In Kalup’s hands, French slow-cookery and hyper-prepped arrangements tessellate into works of beauty, and big flavors crash like waves under even bigger flavors. With ambition and artistry, the young chef embraces and harnesses forceful flavors like black garlic, date confit, caramelized endive, and Saba vinegar into a neatly composed, visually striking foil for housemade cavatelli. Here, as in many of his plates, Kalup tiptoes precipitously close to the deep-end, where huge flavors can engulf and overpower any palate. But he knows just when to pull back, and stop the dial on a bold, but balanced note.

Usually.

But even in Kalup’s wilder moments—the rich, woodsy quail terrine, for instance, with its dense and subtle flavors, scents and textures, he wallops with a vivid orange smear of spicy chorizo emulsion—the results are still interesting.

I loved the sweet-smoky veneer of curry and molasses imparted into a bowl of fresh, tender bay scallops, tossed with crunchy candied sesame seeds, and the clean, bracing kick of red snapper crudo, layered with blood orange, fennel and capers, and drizzled with black olive oil. Elsewhere, it was perfectly deployed caraway seeds whose soothing essence helped bridge morel mushrooms, white asparagus and serrano ham in a tasty antipasti.

For all his deft work with delicate arrangements, Kalup seemed most at ease when plying big, protein-rich entrées, especially when it came to red meats, like a fat New York strip steak or a husky spring lamb loin. With such pristine springboards, Kalup could augment flavors and textures set to seasonal poses, like a swath of fairytale pumpkin purée and whipped goat cheese, or creamy farro dotted with wilted escarole and crisp pearl onions. A beautiful hunk of fall-apart tender braised kid goat arrived lacquered in sinful maple-infused agrodulce[5], whose sweet nectar dripped onto charred cabbage and toasted hazelnuts.

Left to right:The olive oil-poached shrimp with red curry yogurt, radish and pineapple; The dining room. 

 

No meal at Domaine Hudson is complete without wine, and when Kalup and Surpin[6] work in lockstep, the real fireworks commence. Kalup’s kaleidoscopic use of ingredients gives Surpin a wide spectrum of flavors to enhance and mutate with a carefully selected pairing, so when Kalup gives him smoked[7] linguini with black garlic-hazelnut pesto, Surpin answers with 2010 Scarpa Monferrato Rosso Piemontese blend, whose masculine, bittersweet tones helps deepen the pasta’s dark flavors. Before long, one begins to wonder how they ever ate green-tea cake with yuzu caramel and Thai-basil gelato without a glass of Surpin-recommended Hungarian Tokaji, whose musty sweetness fits the cake like a white-chocolate coated glove.

It’s a high-wire act that’s much trickier than it looks. But Kalup and Surpin—who find themselves on the business end of $145 tasting dinners and some of the region’s loudest and most conversant wine experts—are settling into a show-stopping groove. In a time where recession-triggered belt-tightening gave rise to Delaware’s gastropub, localvore and food truck explosion, Domaine Hudson’s lavishness could’ve easily faded out of fashion.

But with a new team hitting its stride as the economy slowly recovers, Domaine Hudson feels as vital as ever. So long as the food keeps pace with the wine, as well as with the region’s rapidly evolving dining whims, Domaine Hudson will maintain its lofty perch, lending modern context to the centuries of tradition and wealth that blossomed along the nearby creeks and riverbanks.



[1] A professor of surgery and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, Dr. Ross often treats some of the country’s elite racehorses, and has operated on Breeders’ Cup champion “Da Hoss”—twice.

[2] Founders Tom and Meg Hudson set the standard with a wine list that simply outpaced everyone else in town.

[3] Judging by the reactions in the room when this wine was brought out, you’d have thought Pope Francis stomped the grapes himself.

[4] Scoring the hat trick of Kid Shelleen’s, Harry’s Savoy, and Harry’s Seafood.

[5] The Italians’ answer to sweet and sour sauce.

[6] The highly-entertaining Surpin is also a trained chef, and preceded Kalup as executive chef at Domaine Hudson.

[7] This was a new one for me: Kalup dumped a few pounds of flour into a hotel pan and left it in a wood smoker for a few hours before folding it into pasta dough. 

 

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February 2016

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Cost: $13

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More information

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Penn Museum
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More information

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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host Lymphedema support groups on the third Thursday of each month at the Seaford Library and Cultural Center from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM. This free support group is...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Seaford Library & Cultural Center
600 N Market St, Ext
Seaford, DE  19973
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Sponsor: Nanticoke Health Services
Telephone: 302-629-6224
Contact Name: Robert Donati
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Looking for something different for your children to do this summer? Look no further than the Summer Camp Fair at the Delaware Museum of Natural History on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. This free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery will be hosting bariatric support groups on the first Tuesday and third Thursday of each month from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at Nanticoke Memorial...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Sponsor: Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery
Telephone: 302-629-6611 x 8810
Contact Name: Shelly Geis

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Rebecca Kobrin of Columbia University will discuss her paper, “Credit to the Nation: Jewish Immigrants, the World of Immigrant Banking and American Finance, 1873–1914.” The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Copeland Room of Hagley’s library building
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Website »

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Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
Website »

More information

Freud’s Last Session centers on a hypothetical meeting between legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud and young, rising Oxford Don, C.S. Lewis, to his home in London on the day England...

Cost: $18 online, $20 at the door

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N Broom Street
Wilmington , DE  19806
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Sponsor: Bootless Stageworks
Telephone: 302-887-9300
Contact Name: Rosanne DellAversano
Website »

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

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Pup-Purr-i...A little bit of everythng for pet lovers The PAWS for People 7th Annual Winter Conference is designed for pet enthusiasts, owners and all those who love animals.  Cost of admission...

Cost: $45 through 2.6; $50 after 2.6

Where:
Nemours A. I. du Pont Hospital for Children
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: PAWS for People
Telephone: 302-351-5622
Contact Name: Clarice Ritchie
Website »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Create and innovate at Hagley! Enjoy a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness in celebration of the Maker movement. It will feature demonstrations from area...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
2
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

Hailed by The New York Times as "a young piano visionary" and "one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers," pianist Michael Brown, a 2015 Avery...

Cost: $30. Free for ages 10-18 & accompanying adult. $10 for students 18 & older.

Where:
Bethel United Methodist Church Hall
Fourth & Market Streets
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Coastal Concerts, Inc.
Telephone: 888-212-6458
Contact Name: Edna Ellett
Website »

More information

The St. Elizabeth High School Alumni Association is hosting an art exhibition and auction on Saturday, February 20, 2016. The event will be held in the newly refurbished Grant Hall...

Where:
Grant Hall at St. Elizabeth Church
809 S Broom St.
Wilmington, DE
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Featuring Diane Monroe, jazz violinist in "What Is This Thing Called Freedom? The Transforming and Timeless Songs of Protest." Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at 7:30 p.m....

Cost: Free

Where:
Trinity Episcopal Church
1108 N. Adams Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Jackson ImmunoResearch
Telephone: 302-652-8605
Website »

More information

A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
Website »

More information

Freud’s Last Session centers on a hypothetical meeting between legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud and young, rising Oxford Don, C.S. Lewis, to his home in London on the day England...

Cost: $18 online, $20 at the door

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N Broom Street
Wilmington , DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: Bootless Stageworks
Telephone: 302-887-9300
Contact Name: Rosanne DellAversano
Website »

More information

Direct from TAO’s successful, sold-out, world-premiere run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this brand-new production, "TAO: Seventeen Samurai," stops at The Playhouse on its...

Cost: $33–$39

Where:
The Playhouse
1007 N. Market Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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