Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lunch at Hudson's in Detroit

I grew up in Detroit.  Over the years, I moved away and came back......moved away and came back.....moved away and came back.  Finally, before I turned 40 I left for good.  That was more than a few years ago.  Although my grandmother told me that a lady never tells her age, I'll give you a little hint.  My hair in my avitar is now white - not blond. 

My grandmother was from Ireland, born in the late 1890's, and true to her word, she'd never give you her real age.  Probably because of her age & upbringing, she never learned to drive.  But she sure got around on the city buses, and as soon as I was old enough to take a bus trip alone, we became good shopping buddies.  I'd get on the bus near home and head downtown, manage to make the transfer, and get off at the corner of Woodward and State St.  There would be Grandma, waiting for me right in front of Woolworth's.  We'd spend the day at Crowley's, Himelhoch's, and of course, Hudson's.

Lunch at Hudson's was an obligatory stop on any downtown shopping trip.  It was a department store dining room with white tablecloths.  Ladies (or young girls wanting to be ladies) still wore white gloves to lunch.  One of the signature luncheon plates was their special Maurice Salad.  It was a julienne of lettuce, ham, turkey & Swiss in a creamy dressing that you couldn't buy.  It was all topped with exactly 2 green olives, and accompanied by the muffin of the day or a hard roll.  It was unique.  It was delicious.  It was worth the 25 mile bus ride.

Over the years I tried to duplicate it.  I checked every Junior League cookbook looking for the recipe.  Although they all claimed authenticity, none came even close.  Eventually I found something with promise, and played with it.  It turned out that mashing up a hard boiled egg into the dressing was the key.  Don't just chop it - mash it up!

Hudson's isn't Hudson's anymore; it's now part of the Macy's empire.  I don't know if they still serve the Maurice salad.  Heck, I don't know if they even have a dining room anymore!  But I do know that I can finally relive the memories of dressing up to go downtown with Grandma.  And it's as good as I remember.

Recipe after the jump - click on 'Read More'.

J.L. Hudson's Maurice Salad

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 tsp onion juice
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp minced parsley
1 hard cooked egg
dash of dry mustard

Mash the heck out of the egg, and whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.  Taste for salt.

6 ounces ham - not a smoked ham or a country ham - just plain boiled ham
6 ounces turkey breast - ditto on the smoked
6 ounces Swiss cheese - buy a chunk - thin slices don't work well here
1/3 cup sweet gherkins
1/2 head of a large head of iceberg lettuce - yes it's gotta be iceberg
8 pimento stuffed green olives

Julienne the ham, turkey and cheese into 1/8 to 1/4 inch sticks.  You want some substance here.
Slice the lettuce into 1/4 inch strips.
Cut the little pickles into the thinnest little julienne strips you can without cutting off the end of your finger.

Toss the dressing with the salad.

For authenticity, lay a large leaf of fresh lettuce on each of 4 plates and divide the salad among them.  Place exactly 2 olives on each plate.


  1. Thank you for sharing! My friend sent me the link to your post because she knows my love of the old Hudson's lunch as well. Unfortunately I am too young to remember when the ladies wore white gloves; I was three the last year that Santa was at the downtown store. I however have many fond memories of lunch with my mother, her childhood friend and her daughter, my best friend. To answer your question about the salads and the restaurants, I know for sure that the Westland and Southland locations still have restaurants...Lakeside Grill. I almost had a Maurice salad today actually, I work across from Fairlane and a friend ran over to their lunch counter, where they have the salads pre-made for sale. The dressing is also now available in bottles. I would be willing to send you one if you would like, just for comparison? I will think of you the next time I enjoy my salad!

    1. I too used to visit Hudson's with my grandmother. I always got the Maurice salad in a pita and hot fudgeice cream puff. That was over forty years ago. Thank you SO much for this recipe. I cried reading your story, it brought back so many memories for me.

  2. Oh, how I miss that salad and also their chicken pot pie. Loved Hudsons, breakfast with Santa and Christmas Carol. I remember shopping with my own Xmas list with the help of their elves in a department set aside just for children. Magic. Can't wait to try your recipe. You are correct, the original had a certain eggyness.

  3. Oh, how I miss that salad and also their chicken pot pie. Loved Hudsons, breakfast with Santa and Christmas Carol. I remember shopping with my own Xmas list with the help of their elves in a department set aside just for children. Magic. Can't wait to try your recipe. You are correct, the original had a certain eggyness.

  4. Oh the memories of Hudsons....we now live up north in Harbor Springs, where there is now a Muir Kitchens. I'm sure you will remember that name. Susan the owner is Joe Muir's grand daughter and Chuck's daughter. She does make the JL Hudson Maurice. I will pass this post to her. While hers is very close, there is something missing in the dressing. Thank you for bringing back all the memories with both of my Grandma's and shopping and lunching at Hudson's!

  5. This was our favorite meal at the Hudsons, then Marshall Fields, and now Macy's store in Saginaw. Sadly, they are now closing the restaurant in Saginaw, so we will go one last time for the famous Maurice Salad, and then use this recipe to make our own and remember the good times.

  6. thank you for sharing my mom loves their salad dressing!!!!!!!

  7. I, too, loved their Maurice Salad and have bought their ready-prepared Maurices at Macy's. Delicious. As someone else said, you can buy the bottled dressing there, too. I also miss their Chicken pie. Remember.... it was all chicken, no vegetables and served with a velvety sauce. Marshall Field's used to serve chicken pie in their dining rooms but it wasn't the same. It was puff pastry and had vegetables. How I would love one of those Hudson Chicken Pies!

  8. the cheese was actually Jarlsberg, it's a smoky swiss, kind of hard to find but well worth the effort.

  9. There is a bar in Howell called the Bline! The cook I think he is Irish not sure,but he talks about his aunt or grandmother taking him to JL Hudson Detroit to eat. He tells the story of loving the pot pies that were served there. The pot pies are the best, he said it is as close if not the same as the Hudson version. Never ate there so cannot compare but his pot pies are like crack! Wish I was old enough to try the Hudson version!

  10. The pot pies at Bline bar and grill are awesome. Not sure about the rest of the story and Hudsons but they are good....