Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Restaurant Week. Two words that divide the D.C. food community like no others. Some people love Restaurant Week for the chance to try fancy restaurants for a discounted price. Others claim that Restaurant Week allows the riff-raff to pour into fine restaurants, leading to bad service and mediocre food.

As for us, we celebrate any opportunity to try new restaurants, and B and I try to choose one or two restaurants to check out each Restaurant Week. This time, we set our sights on the traffic-choked streets of Georgetown to check out Hook. We tried Hook's casual seafood sister Tacklebox over the summer and loved it (see our post here). It turns out that the older, more sedate, and more attractive sister of Tacklebox is a fun date too.

Though I'd read about long wait times for Restaurant Week tables at Hook, we were seated immediately upon arrival at a nice table overlooking the hustle and bustle of M Street. The rapid seating set the stage for what was a wonderful, but very quick meal. Courses followed one after the next with hardly a pause in between. The service was attentive and thoughtful, but you could tell they were trying to turn over tables quickly to keep up with the Friday night Restaurant Week rush.

Hook's focus is on seasonal, sustainable seafood. If you don't like seafood, you probably shouldn't go to a restaurant named Hook. On the other hand, if you like seafood, go to Hook immediately. I started my high seas adventure with the best tartare I've ever had (and that is saying something since I order tuna tartare like B orders lamb). It was served with a citrusy sauce and big fat cranberries that were an unexpectedly awesome pairing with the sweet and silky tuna.

Our waiter convinced B to try the beet salad. He commented that this wasn't something he ever would have ordered, but he was so glad he did. The dish featured pickled watermelon to add a sweet tangy element, and wheatberries to give it a crunchy finish. One of the most complex and interesting appetizers ever devised (I'll give you a nickel if you know where the "ever devised" reference comes from. Think really bad reality TV...)

For my main course I dove into the waters of the mid-Atlantic for a taste of the signature Bluefish with creamy polenta and basil pesto. This fish was caught off of New Jersey but unlike our new friends, The Situation and J-Woww, it was blue and not orange. I guess the little guy forgot to GTL. Regardless, it was very tasty!

B tried the salmon served over a bed of creamy risotto. It certainly wasn't slacking in the flavor department, and had B smiling from ear to ear with each bite.

For dessert I tried the ice cream sandwiches. They were adorable but a little on the small side. Also, the cookies were so hard that it was hard to bite through them without leaving a huge mess of ice cream all over your face. Better dish in theory than in practice.

B's meringue was just what you'd expect with meringue: tart and sweet and pretty to look at. That sounds more like a line from a 13-year old girl's Facebook page than a dessert description.

Though we were in and out of Hook in an hour, it was one of the most pleasurable hours of dining we've had in DC. As we left, we were tempted to stop by Tacklebox to sample their amazing fried shrimp. It wasn't because Hook left us hungry, but because the fried shrimp is just that good.

Second Thoughts from B

Talk about out of my box. Beet salad. I've never really liked beets. My mother would be shocked that I ordered such a thing since she has been slipping beets into my salads for years, only to find them piled up on the side of my plate. But after a year on the soapbox pointing out the merits of waiter ordering assistance (in very DC- esque style, let's give it the acronym WOA!), I had to put my money where my mouth is.

WOA, as in, "Whoa, that was good!" I had serious doubts when I ordered it, but that probably made the beautifully presented and beautifully tasting salad all that much better. The beets had a delicious sweetness that was accentuated by the natural flavors of the watermelon. They were firm, yet light and the cheese/wheatberry combination added more interesting dimensions. This was a perfect example of getting out of the way and allowing a talented chef to do what he/she is best at.

As for my salmon, this dish was packed with flavor. The mushrooms and bacon had a party in my mouth and I was happy to accomodate them. The tartness of the lemon meringue was a perfect finish that came too soon.

J mentioned that Hook was criticized for their service during Restaurant Week. Maybe we got a different snapshot by going earlier in the evening or maybe they took this criticism to heart. Either way, we were very well taken care of other than the pacing. The dishes were so good that I wish we had time to sit and let it all sink in before embarking on the next culinary adventure. But even if we didn't have as much time to savor the experience, we learned what we needed to, and ultimately, this is what Restaurant Week is for... an inexpensive sampling of a fine restaurant that makes us itch to come back. And we will.
Hook on Urbanspoon

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