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Hank's Oyster Bar, 17th Street, Old Town, and Now Open in Capitol Hill

Local Chain Seafood Raw Bar

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#1 RissaP

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 01:36 PM

Chef Jamie Leeds had left 15 Ria a month ago. Her own, Hank's Oyster Bar, is slated to open on May 15th. It's a cute bistro-looking place in the corner of 17th and Q Streets. I'll be trying it real soon. Wishing her well…. Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

#2 Meaghan

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:00 PM

Yes! I passed by today and it looks as if everything's on schedule...

http://www.heatherfr...anks/hanks.html
I guess the menu isn't up yet, but soon...

Actually, this is the real website:

http://www.hanksdc.com/
(also under construction)

#3 Al Dente

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:39 PM

This joint has "On a Whim" written all over it. The first round of oyster shooters are on me!

Offer good one per person. Must be over 21 years of age to participate. Must also be under 22 years of age. Current or former employees of Al Dente Enterprises or any of his subsidiaries will not be considered. Not valid with any other offers. Bivalves, fish, and ventworm nuts prohibited. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after participating. May cause fatigue, dry mouth, night sweats, bed spins, dizziness, and changes in libido. No refunds. Store in a cool dark place.

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#4 mdt

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:43 PM

This joint has "On a Whim" written all over it. The first round of oyster shooters are on me!

Offer good one per person. Must be over 21 years of age to participate. Must also be under 22 years of age. Current or former employees of Al Dente Enterprises or any of his subsidiaries will not be considered. Not valid with any other offers. Bivalves, fish, and ventworm nuts prohibited. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after participating. May cause fatigue, dry mouth, night sweats, bed spins, dizziness, and changes in libido. No refunds. Store in a cool dark place.

You got that right. Since there is no $20 Tuesday event planned for next week, should we plan on invading one night after work?

#5 FunnyJohn

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:44 PM

This joint has "On a Whim" written all over it. The first round of oyster shooters are on me!

Offer good one per person. Must be over 21 years of age to participate. Must also be under 22 years of age. Current or former employees of Al Dente Enterprises or any of his subsidiaries will not be considered. Not valid with any other offers. Bivalves, fish, and ventworm nuts prohibited. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after participating. May cause fatigue, dry mouth, night sweats, bed spins, dizziness, and changes in libido. No refunds. Store in a cool dark place.

Yeah, but it doesn't open til Sunday. Next week HH?

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#6 DonRocks

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:53 PM

One thing I've learned: don't believe a restaurant is going to actually open, until it actually opens. Caveat Preemptor: have an alternate destination at hand else prime your tastebuds for a sidewalk-vendor hot dog.

And a Milky Way from 7-11!
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#7 John Wabeck

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 03:00 PM

Living around the corner and walking by it almost daily it seems that the 15th might be accurate.

How do I know this? I watched "The Restaurant."

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#8 hillvalley

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 04:22 PM

Yes!  I passed by today and it looks as if everything's on schedule...

http://www.heatherfr...anks/hanks.html
I guess the menu isn't up yet, but soon...

Actually, this is the real website:

http://www.hanksdc.com/
(also under construction)

I found it at the bottom of the page. It comes up as a .pdf. I'm in, especially since Al is buying. (Hey Al, a coworker was wearing your Fat Albert shirt today :lol: )

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#9 Meaghan

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 04:44 PM

I found it at the bottom of the page.  It comes up as a .pdf.  I'm in, especially since Al is buying.  (Hey Al, a coworker was wearing your Fat Albert shirt today :lol: )

You're right!

I see she'll be doing "A Meat and Two" like at 15 Ria, as well as all the wonders from the ice bar. Sweet.

Seems very reasonable in price.

#10 Heather

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 09:57 AM

I'm in.

If they don't open on time there's always Trio. :lol:

#11 JPW

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 06:56 AM

Amusing piece in Friday's City Paper about the hassles she is getting for trying to change the sign on the building. Some yahoos claim that the 20 year old neon sign for the old pizza shop is "historic"

Joe
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#12 AMTHoya

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 01:12 PM

Did anyone go last night? I was thinking of going with my girlfriend, but we ended up making tacos instead...

#13 RissaP

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 01:15 PM

Went to the mock opening of Hank’s Oyster Bar. They will open to the public on Wednesday, May 18th. To start, they will be serving for dinner only from 5:30 to 11 PM. They will offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM to 4 PM.

The restaurant looks like a neighborly, fun and casual place; the dining room has a feel of a “newer” Bistro Du Coin, not much of a bar area though for hanging out with a big group of people. Simple décor but loved the exposed bricks. They also have a small sitting area outside.

Colossal Shrimp Cocktail served in shooter glasses

Kumamoto Oysters on the half shell with Mignonette

Fried Ipswich Clams with Aioli

Squid with olive and capers (perfectly cooked, tender, moist, juicy) with minced olives and capers, great sopping the bread with.

Good ol’ battered Fish N’ Chips, crispy but tender in the center, chips were actually homemade fries in which Chef Jamie Leeds said she is still experimenting with the “right cut”

Grilled whole Sea Bass studded with thyme and lemon zest (moist and tender)
Crispy Onion Rings were also lightly battered

All fried items were not greasy, though some items you’ll need to salt to your taste. They readily have on the table salt in small glass bowls and malt vinegar.

They ran out of Crab Cake Fritters, Scallops and Lobster Rolls. They also did not have desserts available yet. Oh well, I know what to try next time.

I did not eat all of these by myself; I try and share with friends… :lol:

The wine list has some interesting selection. Whether it is sparkling wine from New Mexico, Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa or Torrontes or Malbec from Argentina, all pairs well with grilled or fried foods.

If you are looking for an alternate meal to Johnny’s Half Shell, this can be an option.

#14 JPW

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 01:18 PM

The wine list has some interesting selection.  Whether it is sparkling wine from New Mexico,

Is Gruet now as ubiquitous as the miniburger?

Do I have to put this on my "death to hipster foods" list?

Joe
skewing old


#15 RissaP

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 01:30 PM

Is Gruet now as ubiquitous as the miniburger?

Do I have to put this on my "death to hipster foods" list?

I'm usually cautious to try when I see wines from New Mexico, or Texas or Mexico, for example. But I do get curious. The Gruet wasn't great but not too bad either.
However, for the mock opening, they only had 1 sparkling wine available and about 4 each of whites and reds.

#16 AMTHoya

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 03:05 PM

How were the prices?

#17 mdt

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 03:38 PM

How were the prices?

Prices are on the menu available at the site posted by Meaghan above. Anyone want to drop in on Wednesday after work and check things out?

#18 laniloa

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 10:22 PM

We had a nice dinner at Hank's tonight and the consensus was that this will be a great addition to the neighborhood. As you'd expect on opening night, there were some kinks -- they don't get their liquor license until tomorrow which was very disappointing because they had a very nice, and nicely priced, wine list. They weren't serving dessert yet either. I was ready to continue my crustacean crawl and try the lobster roll but they were out of it (until something suspiciously lobster-roll-like was carried by us). I had the smothered pork chops. They weren't smothered but were thick, juicy, and nicely seasoned. The sauteed spinach and garlic had almost no hint of garlic or salt but cooked the doneness I like (wilted but still leafy not mush). The buttermilk onion rings were crispy, light, and not at all greasy. I'd get those again in a heartbeat. I ordered iced tea which originally came to the table opaque. A passing waiter quietly and quickly swapped it for something more tea-like. A later refill was also opaque. This place has real potential and will quickly be packed.

#19 mdt

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 08:20 AM

We had a fun group of 6 that worked its way through the menu and everyone was pleased with what they got. The space is not large and I see it being a packed space in the months to come. In keeping with the fish theme they have small bowls of goldfish crackers on the tables, which was a good touch.

I started with the popcorn shrimp and calamari ($7). The tiny shrimp and calamari were served in a small pail crispy and not the least bit greasy. The seasoning had a little kick and I did not eat much of the dipping sauce that came with it.

For dinner I had the grilled whole rockfish ($17), which was just slightly undercooked, but it was delicious and seasoned with thyme and lemon. Dining is ala carte and when you order an entree the sides, which are good portions, are $2 each. I had the Big Mac and Cheesy and the spinach. The Mac & Cheese had a crispy top and was made with smoked gouda.

Since there was no booze we invaded Firefly for some wonderful vino and cheese for dessert.

#20 Barbara

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 08:26 AM

Aside from the extremely pleasant dr.com company, the lack of wine was a real disappointment (NO! Not for THIS crowd :lol: ). Had Mr. Gastreau not already arrived and ordered some oysters at the bar, we might have just adjourned to another place.

I also had the pork chop. This is one of the "Meat plus Two" items, which changes daily. It was a very nice double-cut chop, just cooked to remain juicy. I had coleslaw and french fries with, both competent. And, at $16, a good buy. Others ordered the 'mac and cheese" which most seemed to like. Jacques Gastreau nailed the cheese as being smoked Gouda. In checking with the staff, yup, it was--along with some cheddar. On Thursdays, they list a mapled-glazed short rib, which sounds yummy to me.

I had the "bucket" of mussels. I would have preferred more garlic in the broth; the biggest problem, however, was that too many of them were delivered unopened (possibly from not being cooked long enough) and some had broken shells. A little more care in dishing this up should take care of that.

mdt ordered the popcorn shrimp which came in a metal basket (?) lined with a paper liner which, he pointed out, remained grease free. Always a good sign with fried food.

All in all, this could shape up to be nice neighborhood place when you are in the mood for seafood, without busting your budget.

#21 chomer

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:29 AM

I'm planning on going there tonight. Anyone think it will be hard to get a table a few minutes before 8pm? Oh, and this is my first submission, been lurking for god knows how long, but for oysters I'm willing to risk most anything. :lol:

Thanks
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#22 mdt

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:35 AM

I'm planning on going there tonight.  Anyone think it will be hard to get a table a few minutes before 8pm?  Oh, and this is my first submission, been lurking for god knows how long, but for oysters I'm willing to risk most anything. :lol:

Thanks
Cathy

Welcome! Now that you have gone that far come on out with us one of these days.

#23 Heather

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:40 AM

I'll second the good review. The menu and wine list are interesting and reasonably priced, and with time I am sure it will be packed every night. I had the griddled calamari with olives and capers. The squid was perfectly fresh and creamy textured but the olives and capers (chopped as a sauce) slightly overwhelmed the delicate taste of the squid. My main was the fish and chips. The fish was very good but could have been a smaller portion, or at least cut into smaller pieces before frying. It was accompanied by good fries and very good cole slaw with a sweet & sour poppy seed dressing. Looking forward to returning once they have booze and desserts.

The highlights at Firefly were the excellent Roquefort and Pont l'Eveque, and a delicious bourbon cocktail.

Edited by Heather, 19 May 2005 - 09:40 AM.


#24 chomer

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:42 AM

Thank you, sounds like fun. I've pretty much made food my life (outside work that is) and not everyone wants to talk about it as much as I do! It would be nice to meet some folks with this obsession...

#25 CrescentFresh

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 10:15 AM

  It would be nice to meet some folks with this obsession...

Obsessed? Bah!

45 minutes 'til lunchtime. :lol:
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#26 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 10:38 AM

I'll chime in with my 2 cents. I had the grilled halibut. Perfectly fresh, perfectly cooked, the flavour mild. I ordered the steamed sugar snap peas as a side and they used the peas to make a bed for the halibut. The peas were excellent. The mac & cheese was real good too. I noticed the smokey flavour right off and tried to figure out where it was coming from. Since I did not see anything like bacon or ham in the dish, I figured it had to be the cheese and I rightly guessed smoked gouda.

I had a half-dozen oysters, kumamotos, to start. I view the oysters at Oceanaire as the gold standard and I would put the ones at Hank's at the silver level, very good, but not quite up to Oceanaire standards.
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#27 FunnyJohn

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 01:06 PM

So when will they be able to serve alcohol? (I'm assuming they are in the liquor license application process)

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#28 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 01:09 PM

They said that they should have their license today. The good news is that they will be able to sell liquor in addition to beer and wine.
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#29 alan7147

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 02:00 PM

Going to Hank's tonight. Anyone been in the past week and can report back?

If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight, and if not split and reevaluate." - Sun Tzu


#30 monkey2000

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 03:15 PM

Went last night. Good. Go. Can recommend the fried Ipswich clams, the Pacific oysters and the lobster roll.
I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

#31 lackadaisi

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 02:25 PM

I went last night, and there was definitely alcohol. The lobster roll is fantastic - served on a very good soft roll. The fries were not the best; they were a little soggy and did not have much flavor (particularly odd given that we asked for them to be Old Bay fries). But, the fries were the only weak part of the meal. The softshell appetizer was perfectly fried. Not the slightest bit greasy, and the coating was so light that it didn't even overpower the littlest of the legs. We also tried the oysters (Malpeques and Blue Points) and the macaroni and cheese - both were very good. And the bar service was great! I wish that I lived closer.

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#32 Tweaked

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 09:20 AM

Stopped in to Hank's before heading to Komi last night. wow what a great space! Esp. when you consider it use to be dumpy trios pizza! The room has soaring ceilings and is light and airy, with a small but nice looking bar in the back. we sat outside on the front patio (which has a bit of a severe slant to it, I thought my beer was going to slide off the table!). They are now serving beer and wine, still waiting on the hard liquor license, so had a couple Sierra Nevadas and a plate of peel and eat shrimp with Old Bay...definitely a nice way to spend a hour after work.

Definitely want to try it for a full on dinner...judging by the curious looks on people's faces, the neighborhood is still discovering Hank's, esp. as an after work happy hour place.

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#33 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 09:49 AM

Stopped in to Hank's before heading to Komi last night.  wow what a great space!  Esp. when you consider it use to be dumpy trios pizza!  The room has soaring ceilings and is light and airy, with a small but nice looking bar in the back.  we sat outside on the front patio (which has a bit of a severe slant to it, I thought my beer was going to slide off the table!).  They are now serving beer and wine, still waiting on the hard liquor license, so had a couple Sierra Nevadas and a plate of peel and eat shrimp with Old Bay...definitely a nice way to spend a hour after work.

Definitely want to try it for a full on dinner...judging by the curious looks on people's faces, the neighborhood is still discovering Hank's, esp. as an after work happy hour place.

I think they have the hard liquor license, which they were not expecting. They are probably waiting for the hard liquor to show up.
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#34 Tweaked

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 10:19 AM

They said they didn't have the license last night, but the waitstaff seemed to be still a little confused...either way, they only had wine and beer last night!

Meat is Murder...Tasty Tasty Murder


#35 Nadya

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 02:23 PM

Question about Hank's: Do y'all think it will be difficult/easy to snag a deuce without a res around 8.30ish tonight? Did it look crazy-busy or somewhat subdued when you were there? We'll be in the area tonight looking to grab something before hitting Improv, and I would dearly love to eat me some oysters.

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#36 VandyHoo

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 03:46 PM

Question about Hank's: Do y'all think it will be difficult/easy to snag a deuce without a res around 8.30ish tonight? Did it look crazy-busy or somewhat subdued when you were there? We'll be in the area tonight looking to grab something before hitting Improv, and I would dearly love to eat me some oysters.



I called today to ask about reservations.
They don't take reservations, but said that if you call about a half hour before you plan to come in, they will put you on the waiting list if there is a wait.

#37 Nadya

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 10:54 AM

So on Friday night, after a fun drive through Dupont Circle in search of parking, we descended on Hank's. Luckily, both of us belong to the cosmopolitan persuasion that prefers to dine around 9 pm - much more civilized, and no one rushes you off to turn the table. Posted Image Posted Image

It only took 15 minutes to get seated. Minutes were used to stroll around the block, including five minutes of lingering near Komi's entrance - "see, here is where beautiful people dine. I will take you here if you're lucky - really lucky - later. Much, much later." Motivated by such gentle manipulation and with a look of wistful hunger, we returned to Hank's.

The space is tiny - really, really tiny. We had a table ready, but just about that time two seats at the counter angle were vacated, and we plunked our bottoms there - much better to do this when you're next to each other, know what I mean? The lanky gentleman tending the bar is called Don and hails from David Greggory. Say hello next time you're there.

Because we had to rock-n-roll in an hour to catch a late show, we skipped the apps and went straight for the main gig. Mine were soft shells and his were scallops, and we also ordered spinach and roasted beets for sides. Oh, and two Rieslings to sip on while we waited.

Both plates were of reasonable size - they use Carolina crabs that are somewhat smaller. The scallops were perfect, plump and juicy flesh that's a joy to bite into. The crabs were OK, too, but scallops took the prize that night. The sides were underwhelming - asparagus (instead of spinach. Why?) had too much butter on it, and roasted beets tasted like they came out of a can, and cold to boot, too.

I am inclined to be kind to a place that just opened, so I'll hold the judgment and say that I look forward to seeing them develop. Perhaps a longer meal is in order to encourage more appreciation of the place. It is certainly a fine addition to the neighborhood that has too few places where I would consider eating.

(Hey - you know who you are - I'll take that bottle off your hands whenever you're ready.)

Edited by Nadya, 06 June 2005 - 12:51 PM.

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#38 ustreetguy

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 10:31 PM

Well I've been meaning to comment on this place for a couple weeks now, so finally here is my "two cents". This is definitely a great addition to the neighborhood. It's wonderful to have a casual friendly neighborhood place that sells fresh and simple seafood - the kind that takes you back to the beach. The infamous lobster roll that everyone has been raving about is definitely the original thing. Sweet lobster that's not overly dressed in a lightly toasted roll - it's by far the best thing on the menu. The grilled calamari and fried oysters are both nicely cooked with good flavor, and the fish preparations tend not to disappoint. I have to say though that the crabcakes have been lackluster - too much breading, oddly mushy. As a native Marylander, this is not the place to go for good crabcakes. The fries do tend to be a little greasy, but I hear they're still a work in progress. The onion rings make for a better side dish. I was also disappointed in the mac 'n cheese - not enough cheese in my humble opinion. Despite these detractions, this is still a great alternative to Johnny's Half Shell. I can't wait to try desert there if they ever get around to it. Hunks of chocolate with the bill are fine the first time around, but I'm hoping Chef Leeds gets around to figuring out satisfying endings to the meals there.
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#39 lackadaisi

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 08:57 AM

I had dinner at Hank's again last night, and it was excellent. I do, however, have one complaint. The softshells, although extremely tasty, were very small. I am not one to complain about serving sizes, but this was really ridiculous. An entree cannot consist of solely two little baby crabs. Especially given that they do not have any desserts, this created quite a problem. As I had eaten there previously, I was assuming that the portion size of that entree would be similar to that of the other entrees that I have tried. It was not, and I - and my guest - left quite hungry. I will, of course, return to Hank's because the food is excellent, the service is great, and it just has a great feel to it. But, my extreme praise will be somewhat dampened by the memory of the bowls of cheerios that my guest and I felt compelled to eat immediately after leaving.

"Well, it's business drunk. It's like rich drunk, either way it's legal to drive."-Jack Donaghy


#40 Meaghan

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 09:27 AM

I had dinner at Hank's again last night, and it was excellent.  I do, however, have one complaint.  The softshells, although extremely tasty, were very small.  I am not one to complain about serving sizes, but this was really ridiculous.  An entree cannot consist of solely two little baby crabs. 

I totally agree. I guess I'm pretty spoiled, but I wouldn't go back and order softshells. However, if you order strategically at Hank's, you can eat as well or better and walk out feeling stuffed. If you want a big softshell crab, try the one at Corduroy!! It's a Ron Jeremy.

#41 ustreetguy

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 10:30 AM

I totally agree.  I guess I'm pretty spoiled, but I wouldn't go back and order softshells.  However, if you order strategically at Hank's, you can eat as well or better and walk out feeling stuffed. If you want a big softshell crab, try the one at Corduroy!!  It's a Ron Jeremy.


I went back last night to check out these soft-shelled crabs. I didn't think the portion was small at all. The two crabs on the plate certainly seemed ample, and the sauce was quite tasty but maybe I just wasn't that hungry. The only odd thing was my friend and I ordered the popcorn shrimp to share, and it came out maybe 1/4 shrimp and 3/4 calamari. Very odd.
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#42 Free Wilma

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 11:01 AM

And Tom gives it........ two stars

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#43 alan7147

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 03:46 PM

I agree with Sietsema that the whole no desert issue needs to be addressed. Personally, it does not bother me as I am not a big desert eater, but having to get up and go somewhere else to finish a meal is a can be an annoyance.

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#44 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 03:54 PM

I agree with Sietsema that the whole no desert issue needs to be addressed.  Personally, it does not bother me as I am not a big desert eater, but having to get up and go somewhere else to finish a meal is a can be an annoyance.

Not only an annoyance, but somewhat difficulet to acheive. What other restaurant is going to watn to seat you just for desert?
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#45 Tweaked

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:17 PM

Actually I've stopped off at komi just for dessert and cheese before...and they are just down the street from Hank's.

Edited by Tweaked, 18 July 2005 - 04:18 PM.

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#46 starfish

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:22 PM

Not only an annoyance, but somewhat difficulet to acheive.  What other restaurant is going to watn to seat you just for desert?

while i agree that it is an inconvenience for most people, it is sop for me to have desert in another location. the walk or cab ride acts as a digestive for me. i especially prefer walking, because it gives me opportunity to smoke a cigar without bothering anyone in the bar or dining room.

but i willfully acknowledge and embrace my weirdness.

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#47 Meaghan

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:29 PM

They don't even have sorbet or ice cream? Strange.

#48 JLK

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:36 PM

How hard is it to source a decent cookie and throw it on a plate?

:P

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#49 brian

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:54 PM

As long as they're packed every night they're making more money by not having dessert. If/when the crowds die down it would be good to add a couple options.

#50 Thrasher

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 11:05 PM

The place is smoking, good fresh food with friendly service and a loud fun atmosphere! Who cares if the do not have dessert; have a crab cake or another bottle of wine that’s what we did!
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