November 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Hudson Cafe offers fresh fare, made there

Co-owner and chef Tom Teknos shows some of the Hudson Cafeís favorites, Voodoo Benedict and Apple Walnut Stuffed French Toast. )

With downtown lofts and office buildings seeing an influx of new faces, chef/proprietor Tom Teknos and his partners wanted to be part of the revival. The Hudson Cafe, on the ground floor of the Lofts at Merchants Row, directly across the street from where the iconic J.L. Hudson's once stood, is the result.

Evoking the grand old name is just part of the story. Inside, in a completely renovated and refreshed setting — only the light fixtures remain from the predecessor, Detroit's Breakfast House & Grill — Teknos and his crew are turning out breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes that are impressive not only in their flair and creativity but also in their quality.

The doors open at 7 a.m. during the week, and the coffee bar fills up immediately. A little later, people begin sitting down in the high-ceilinged dining room for more substantial fare, such as three-egg omelets and pecan banana pancakes.

Teknos, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, turns out the stylish array in his from-scratch kitchen. Almost everything is made in-house, from the biscuits, corncakes and corned beef hash to the batter for the pancakes and the creamy Maurice dressing for — you guessed it — the famous ham, turkey and Swiss cheese salad that was a signature for decades at the department store.

After just four weeks, the Hudson Cafe is making its presence known. Already a favorite is Teknos' version of huevos rancheros, two sunnyside-up eggs atop nuggets of golden brown oven-roasted potatoes with triangles of corn tortilla, guacamole and sour cream and just enough of the tomato- and chiles-based ranchero sauce.

Another popular choice is one or another of the seven spinoffs of eggs Benedict, served atop English muffins, biscuits or corncakes, with such toppings as chorizo and cheddar, or tomato and spinach.

Although there is no dessert list, red velvet pancakes, made with red velvet cake batter, and three varieties of fruit crepes sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with whipped cream, certainly qualify as sweets.

Breakfast/brunch dishes are so tempting it's tough to get past them, but there are also worthy burgers on toasted buns (made to Teknos' specifications at a Livonia bakery), one with prime beef, the other with white meat turkey, served with sweet potato fries, waffle fries or fresh fruit and some heaping bowls of salad from Greek to roasted beet and artichoke in house vinaigrette.

Maurice Wiggins, one of the partners along with Stavros Adamopoulos, runs the front of the house while Teknos is in the kitchen. The wait staff, in long-sleeved brown shirts and jeans, is upbeat and friendly.

There's lots to like about the Hudson Cafe, not the least of which is the fact that it is "green," from the materials used in the renovation to the biodegradable carryout containers.

The Hudson Cafe

1241 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Call: (313) 237-1000


Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

Prices: Breakfast/brunch dishes $7-$14, sandwiches $9.50-$12, main dish salads $9.50-$14, sides $3-$5

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: No

Parking: Street or underground garage

Wheelchair access: No barriers

(313) 222-1475

The renovated space is on the ground floor of the Lofts at Merchants Row, ... (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)