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A COOL MILL 

Rosewood Grill brings modern style to historic Hudson site

There was a forgivable amount of anxiety percolating through Hudson during the build-out of Rosewood Grill. Set inside the historic Turner's Mill complex, locals understandably were concerned about modifications being foisted upon one of the town's most beloved fixtures. After all, how do you tastefully marry a 160-year-old gristmill with a brand spanking new 5,000-square-foot addition?

All it takes to allay those fears is a short stroll across the threshold. Once inside, guests can't help but get swept up in the snug embrace of one of the village's most attractive restaurants. The goal here was to craft an eatery that felt as though it had been here all along. From the looks of things, management has succeeded. Swaddled in grainy wood, sumptuous leather and eons-old barnstone slabs, the place has the lived-in look of a clubby neighborhood bistro.

Boasting two moods in one, the shrewdly arranged restaurant accommodates guests in either a lively barroom or serene-by-comparison dining room. The lounge is dominated by a lengthy communal table, weighty granite bar and unobstructed views into the jumping kitchen. Louder voices and music give the room a playful frame of mind. Though far from somber, the dining room — with its sleek banquettes, wall-to-wall carpet and hushed tones — can more accurately be described as "middle-aged hip."

Despite the five-star digs, the menu takes a more populist approach to diner satisfaction. The contemporary American menu — which is to say, a little bit of this, a little bit of that — will win few awards for originality. What it will earn kudos for is quality, execution and wholesale gratification. This is the kind of grub you don't have to analyze to enjoy. And thanks to prices that largely fall south of $15, it is food that diners can enjoy on a frequent and habitual basis.

Our foursome one evening nearly obliterated its collective appetite, thanks to a platter of nubby fried calamari ($8). Dotted with fried banana pepper rings and served with a pair of zippy dipping sauces, the starter is a no-brainer table pleaser. Another appetizer that provokes uncontrollable hand-to-mouth action is the baked goat cheese ($7). Flatbread, fresh from the stone oven, is sliced into wedges and served with a bubbling crock of cheese-topped sauce. Dip, eat, repeat.

A quintet of sushi shooters ($9), lined up like pearls on a string, has all the elements in place for a choice starter. Crisp wonton cups are filled with diced raw tuna, wasabi and creamy avocado. The only hitch is that these shooters are too large to actually shoot.

Appropriate as a starter or main, Rosewood's flatbreads include versions topped with brie, shrooms and sweet roasted garlic ($8), and Buffalo chicken and blue cheese ($9). If we had a complaint about our Greek pie ($9), it was that the ingredients (feta, artichoke and olive) seemed to have been sprinkled on post-bake. Salads and sandwiches, so often the redheaded stepchildren of menus, are not given short shrift here. Large entrée-size salads are topped with rotisserie chicken ($13), grilled salmon ($14) and Asian sesame chicken ($11). Some of the best things we ate at Rosewood happened to be bread-bound. In the case of the lobster rolls ($14), a pair of split-top hot dog buns overflow with succulent seafood washed in a tarragon-scented dressing. Slaw adds just the right amount of crunch. The "Killer French Dip" ($13) lives up to its billing, stuffed with shaved prime rib and gruyère cheese. Sandwiches are served with equally killer house-cut fries.

Because Rosewood is a member of the Hospitality Restaurants group (Cabin Club, Delmonico's, Blue Point Grille), diners can count on quality steaks and chops. An expertly trimmed sirloin ($17), drizzled with a rich wine sauce, combines the beefy goodness of a rib-eye with the tenderness of a filet. Of course, if you prefer a rib-eye or a filet, those too are available. Rosewood's rotisserie chicken ($16) is made with fresh local poultry and it tastes that way. If there is an area of the menu that elicits yawns, it's the sides. Ubiquitous cheesy mashers, ho-hum roasted spuds, slightly limp Brussels sprouts and unremarkable sautéed spinach are some of the items we encountered.

Adult beverage fans will have few complaints regarding the drinks list. Signature cocktails, craft beers and a great selection of wines by the glass and bottle are on hand to make every occasion festive.

Those who go should know that Rosewood accepts no reservations, practically guaranteeing a wait at primetime. Look for the 50-seat patio, sporting a 12-foot gas fire pit, to alleviate some of the crowding.

dining@clevescene.com

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