The other day, I had the pleasure of checking out Hudson Hotel's new spaces with Mari Balestrazzi, Morgans Hotel Group's vice president of design. First we checked out the Sky Terrace, usually a treat for guests only, which is a landscaped urban oasis on the 15th floor, filled with green and white daybeds and hammocks and awesome views of the Hudson River. Then we ate at Hudson Hall, formerly Cafeteria. Inspired by an Ivy League mess hall, it is one of the more fun eating concepts I have seen in awhile. There are long wooden communal tables done in a black finish, flanked by whimsical queen and king chairs, or your typical bench. A massive projection screen wraps the brick walled room, showing everything from music videos to the World Cup. But besides the modern, laidback atmosphere by Mari and her team in collaboration with Studio Arne Quinze, the standout here is the dining concept. Waiters fittingly dressed in rugby shirts don't bring you food (drinks, yes, and there is a fantastic cocktail list), but instead, just like you were in college again, you get a tray (here it's a custom designed cherry red one, which my school didn't have), and walk around the open kitchen picking which dishes you want. But don't think typical college food. There are some gourmet versions, like tater tots, sliders, and flatbread pizza, but there's also more upscale options like tuna tartare and a watermelon salad—small enough that you are happy to try a sampling. And all the food by chef Brian Young is made from organic sustainable products that are native to the New York-Hudson area so the menu is seasonal. Makes me happy that I can go back to try something new every few months.