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Joe Riley

Hook, M Street in Georgetown - Temporarily Closed Due To Fire

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Hook last night was terrific. The highlights were definitely the pasta carbonara, the black and yellowfin tunas, the tautog with an awesome fried potato/hashbrown/Tator Tot with Gigantism, and Kona Kampachi crudo. The only real disappointments were the desserts in general, except for the cookie plate, which was excellent (much better than the last one I had at Palena). Aren't the donuts supposed to be hot, or at least warm? Mine were cold and it made all the [negative] difference. But that's too much negativity which was overall great cooking. And, boy, did it remind me how perfectly cooked, high quality fish makes a restaurant meal extra special for me.

By the way, Tackle Box next door opened today. Last night it was open to just family and friends. Our waiter gave us a menu b/c we asked about it. Looks very intriguing.

Pax,

Brian

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I haven't been to Hook in a few months but I'm heading there tonight. Anyone been recently? Recommendations?

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I haven't been to Hook in a few months but I'm heading there tonight. Anyone been recently? Recommendations?

Well, it's hard to make recommendations because they change the menu so frequently... but ten days ago, I deeply enjoyed the sea urchin crudo. Rich, creamy, sea-tasting urchin three ways, a real treat, if you are into sea urchin. I also had an excellent beet salad.

As far as fish recommendations, I haven't really gone wrong there, and I tend to pick based on the sides that accompany the fish. That policy has served me well so far.

Alex

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Belated Mother's Day dinner at Hook last night, as mom returned from visiting family in Greece this weekend. Enjoyed the grilled calamari, which while tasty, brought up the question of whether we can get as good quality calamari here as in Greece. For my main, I had the bluefish as I had been inspired by the bluefish at Tackle Box. While the fish was still excellent, I actually somewhat preferred Tackle Box's version. However, the tomato risotto was really excellent.

But the real standout for me aside from the risotto was the strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. The strawberry flavor hits you first and then fades away into rhubarby tanginess. Awesome.

What I didn't realize is how LOUD the dining room at Hook gets, because I had dined at the bar my first time there. Tom Sietsema would not be pleased.

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Hi everybody - just wanted to let you know about a breaking news item Todd Kliman just posted on Washingtonian.com.

BREAKING NEWS: Barton Seaver Splits with Hook

Hook chef Barton Seaver, who made a name for himself in guiding the slick seafood emporium to foodie prominence and who also helped to launch a more casual spot, Tackle Box, has split with his ownership group, Pure Hospitality.

This is the second dust-up at Hook this month, following the bitter (and very public break-up) of Tackle Box and chef Richard Bechtold a couple of weeks ago.

More here.

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BREAKING NEWS: Barton Seaver Splits with Hook

I've been discussing this rumor (now confirmed as a done deal) with several restaurant professionals in the past few days. The consensus? Barton is CRAZY to leave here ... UNLESS things are absolutely intolerable. I guess they were!

This is shaping up to be a very, very interesting and "dynamic" summer for Washington, DC restaurants.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Hi everybody - just wanted to let you know about a breaking news item Todd Kliman just posted on Washingtonian.com.

BREAKING NEWS: Barton Seaver Splits with Hook

What a bummer! I'm so sad to hear this. Even though Chef Whigham is wonderful in his own right, they were a great pair. Any updates or additional insight people might have would be appreciated.

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Any word on his next destination, or is he not going to be cooking anymore and headed for the "Bourdain Train of Fame" (rhyming intentional)?

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two women order entrees. their waiter asks them if they want appetizers. they say they don't. have you ever eaten here before? he asks. they say they have. well, he tells them, the entrees are really small and if you don't order appetizers you aren't going to have enough to eat. one of the women, my wife, who is drinking a $14 glass of wine recommended by the waiter, orders a salad. her companion goes ballistic. the entrees, it turns out, aren't inordinately small and my wife's comes with a salad.

early on a saturday night, the place is hurting for business.

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two women order entrees. their waiter asks them if they want appetizers. they say they don't. have you ever eaten here before? he asks. they say they have. well, he tells them, the entrees are really small and if you don't order appetizers you aren't going to have enough to eat. one of the women, my wife, who is drinking a $14 glass of wine recommended by the waiter, orders a salad. her companion goes ballistic. the entrees, it turns out, aren't inordinately small and my wife's comes with a salad.

early on a saturday night, the place is hurting for business.

Don't know if the place is hurting for business, but the waiter was certainly looking for a bigger total check.

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two women order entrees. their waiter asks them if they want appetizers. they say they don't. have you ever eaten here before? he asks. they say they have. well, he tells them, the entrees are really small and if you don't order appetizers you aren't going to have enough to eat. one of the women, my wife, who is drinking a $14 glass of wine recommended by the waiter, orders a salad. her companion goes ballistic. the entrees, it turns out, aren't inordinately small and my wife's comes with a salad.

early on a saturday night, the place is hurting for business.

I'm wondering if you took this into consideration with the tip. How did you handle it?

Thanks.

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I'm wondering if you took this into consideration with the tip. How did you handle it?

Thanks.

after delivering a free coke to the ballistic woman, the waiter never returned.

with the second waiter, my wife left a tip of $10 on a $50 check (for just herself) including the tax, which is probably what she would have left the first waiter. she does not know how much the ballistic woman tipped. she thinks that the initial waiter may have been instructed to pitch wine and food. in the service department, the restaurant appeared to be overstaffed. people were tripping over each other to keep water glasses full.

however, she is not likely to return to this restaurant anytime soon.

EDIT: In discussing this further with my wife, it appears that she was not charged for something. (glass of wine, $14; salad, $14; entree, $28). the check should have been roughly $56, before tax.

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I have it on good word that Joshua Whiggam is leaving also, replacement chef yet to be determined.

Best of luck up in the Apple, chef.

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This is disappointing... I just posted about my wonderful birthday dinner at Hook.

Best of luck Chef, I look forward to visiting your new restaurant on my trips home!

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This is disappointing... I just posted about my wonderful birthday dinner at Hook.

Best of luck Chef, I look forward to visiting your new restaurant on my trips home!

Yes, this is disappointing... I was just there myself. Where will he be going to next?

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My friends were there last night and said that they thought that yesterday was chef Whiggam's last day. can anyone else confirm, or provide any additional details on where he's going? it's quite a loss.

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I went to Hook last night and between my husband and I, we ordered the following.

-oyster on the half shell. I didn't find a single grit in there, very clean and fresh tasting. It was served with mignonette which I like more than the usual overpowering cocktail sauce.

-tuna tartar and yellowfin crudo. I wished the waiter would have told us those two dishes are almost identical in flavor (salt, olive oil, herbs etc).

-grilled calamari. I like the slightly charred calamari and pesto sauce, but I didn't like the potato salad that came with it. It was too sour and didn't have any other flavors.

-beet salad. I like the addition of pistachio which gave it a nutty taste and the blueberry provided more sweetness.

We are not of wine drinkers. We prefer ales and Hook's selection of beer was pathetic. In my opinion, the hopiness of beer is very compatible with food and I wish more restaurants put some effort into their beer list (how about some Chimay on tap :P )There were three on tap at Hook and not really the type I would order. I ended up with a ligonberry cocktail and husband got a bottle of Delirium Tremens.

The seafood was fresh, but definitely over priced which explains the half empty restaurant at 7:00 on a Friday night.

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On a cold Sunday night in Georgetown, a shockingly empty Hook was representative of restaurants all over the area this evening: It's a dead time of year, and I was the only bar patron the entire time I was at the restaurant.

As a standalone dish, the Smoked Trout Terrine ($12) was a rip-off - the food cost was surely less than two dollars. Two chintzily thin wedges of excellent terrine were sitting atop what is essentially filler: pickled cabbage and grilled bread, accompanied by a fine little scrapy sperm cell of caraway creme fraiche and a bit of roe.

But with a glass of Muscadet ($9), I turned an expensive appetizer into a satisfying snack. A basket of bread features little Heather Chittum-biscuits, alongside focaccia and slices of baguette which are curiously baked by another staff member.

The key to this meal was the accompaniment to the bread basket: a ramekin of garlic aioli (*), which turned the three cumbersome slices of grilled bread in the terrine into a thrilling one-two combo. I felt like I got my money's worth, and left eager to come back for more.

Cheers,

Rocks.

(*) This is the best garlic aioli I've had in ... well, since my dinner at La Canela three nights ago. But I must say, this excellent version at Hook is the better of the two.

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But with a glass of Muscadet ($9), I turned an expensive appetizer into a satisfying snack. A basket of bread features little Heather Chittum-biscuits, alongside focaccia and slices of baguette which are curiously baked by another staff member.

The Muscadet is a good choice! I always mean to write down the vineyard so I can find it at my local store. Do you recall what it is?

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The Muscadet is a good choice! I always mean to write down the vineyard so I can find it at my local store. Do you recall what it is?

I don't remember the exact wine, but I remember it's brought in by Elite Wines (Laurent Givry's company in Lorton). Their number is (703) 339-8150. If you call them and ask what Muscadet they're serving at Hook restaurant, they'll be able to tell you (believe me, small importers are HAPPY to get phone calls like this - it means people are actually paying attention to their wines).

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(*) This is the best garlic aioli I've had in ... well, since my dinner at La Canela three nights ago.
Is it authentic “aïoli”, as opposed to mayonnaise laced with garlic? The redundant difference is considerable and exceedingly difficult to make. Adding garlic to mayonnaise doesn’t really qualify as aïoli and was presumably brought into the modern repertoire by shortcut and sloth. If its egg/bread/mustard/potato-less, kudos. If not, its garlic mayonnaise.

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Is it authentic “aïoli”, as opposed to mayonnaise laced with garlic? The redundant difference is considerable and exceedingly difficult to make. Adding garlic to mayonnaise doesn’t really qualify as aïoli and was presumably brought into the modern repertoire by shortcut and sloth. If its egg/bread/mustard/potato-less, kudos. If not, its garlic mayonnaise.

Well, La Canela's is almost surely mayonnaise laced with garlic (albeit an excellent version). As for Hook's, keep in mind Seringen worked at Le Paradou before going to Oya, so his might be a true aïoli, although I honestly don't know; I do know that I was downing it with fervor and zest.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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The true representation of aïoli is nothing more than garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Never any egg as an emulsifier, the garlic having the same tensioactive properties as eggs (and mustard). Some may call for bread soaked in milk or water to stabilize the thing and rarely potatoes but the authentic version is a monument to simplicity, technique and patience. The result is a pure, opaque garlic and olive oil emulsion that oozes. Everything else is “garlicky mayo” sleight of hand and does not deserve the aïoli suffix.

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Restaurant Week is eminently worthwhile at Hook's. I had the calamari, stiped bass and chocolate pudding. Each course was prepared with care and skill, and kind of generous in terms of portion. Little things matter: sea salt instead of a shaker. My companion said of the French coffee, "I keep pouring milk in but it doesn't change color." The tiny waitress was so adorable I could have put her on my watch fob. Two RW meals, plus soft drink, coffee, iced tea and chamomille tea, amounted to three RW lunches, well worth it. The captain told me they also serve a plateau de fruits de mer, which I intend to try.

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