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Joe Riley

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

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Nine of us were there on Saturday night at 7:00 PM. It was a surprise engagement party, five of the nine got there at 7:00 PM, the other four of us were supposed to arrive around 7:30 PM. This was already discussed with the person that took the reservations, both when I made them and on Saturday when they called to confirm. Unfortunately, the final four of us were a bit late getting there, we arrived about 7:45 PM, so we didn't start off on the right foot with our server. She was very pleasant most of that 45 minutes, but my friends told me that she was a bit peeved at us for running 15 minutes later than expected. That's fine, I understand her feelings about that, but they were also drinking the entire time, so it was not like they were spending no money.

Anyway, after getting off on the wrong foot, everything was good, but since I was expecting great, I have to say that I was disappointed...

The decor was nice, much nicer than Cilantro was, and there were beautiful people all over the place. Very clean and fresh look, something that was needed down in Georgetown. We sat upstairs, which was not noisy at all, so that was nice. It was hot as hell upstairs, that was a bad thing, but we figured that it was just a kink that they need to work out in the new space. The funniest part about the environment, although something they must fix as soon as possible, is the bathroom upstairs. There is a single bathroom right by the stairs which has a vent in the door. No big deal, right? Well, if you are facing that bathroom door, which our table was for the people sitting in the booth, you can definitely see what is going on in there if the person is sitting on the toilet. Yes, too graphic, I know, but that is the deal. And, it was not like we were even trying to see what was going on, it was just out there for everyone to see! :blink:

Enough about the decor. The food was good, but not great. Some dishes shined, like the Country Ham Tasting, the Grilled Calamari and the Black Risotto, while other dishes just weren't that great, like the Tuna and the Lobster Saffron Risotto. Now, the Lobster Saffrom Risotto tasted good, but there was very little lobster in the dish at all and the serving size was small for $28. The Tuna, on the other hand, was just not good. Now, I loved the crudo, I ordered all nine for my entree instead of getting a standard dinner, but there were two things wrong with it. One, when it was brought out, no one told me what anything was. And, when I asked for a menu so that I could figure out what it all was, I was never given one. Two, I only got seven on the nine crudo, the other two never came out. I asked the server about it and she said that she would get it to me right away, but I never got it. It was, at least, taken off the bill, but I was still disappointed that I did not get it because the seven that I had, other than the oyster, were exceptional. The desserts were a bit better. I really liked the Chocolate Tart and the Doughnuts and the Carrot Cake, they stood out to me because we got a few others and that is all that I can remember. Surprisingly, I liked the desserts better than the appetizers and the entrees which never happens to me, but that was the case on Saturday night. The wine list was a bit pricey in places and very French heavy, but we were able to pick out our fair share of good ones and enjoyed them.

So, the decor was nice minus a few fixable flaws and the food was good with the possibility of becoming great, but the service was pretty much deplorable. Now, I know that the restaurant just opened and that we were running a bit behind since we showed up late and our server was pretty pissed off, but our server was absent the entire night and miserable when we asked for anything. I already mentioned the two missing crudo as well as the missing menu, but there were issues all over the place. The biggest issue was getting the waitress to come by to allow us to order, which was shocking since she was obviously was mad that we weren't there earlier to order. We waited for a long time to place our original order and our wine glasses were empty most of the night. We managed to order five bottles of wine for the nine of us, but we would have easily ordered two or three more if she was ever around to see how things were going. She also missed out on a round of coffee and after dinner drinks for the same reason. Other than that, the dishes came out at awkward times, some appetizers came right away, others took a while, and we had awkwardly long pauses between each course. Bread was brought once and was not replenished even after asking them to do so at least two times, the lack of water made me feel like I was in the desert.

Overall, here is the deal...

I like this place and I will go back as time passes by, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I am not sure if the service was bad or that our server was bad or that our server was pissed at us and was taking it out on us, but either way, it is not acceptable for a restaurant of this caliber. And, she only hurt herself by doing so. I did not pay the bill, but I am pretty sure that it was $700 or $800 for the nine of us, including tip. If she had done a better job, she would have sold us three more bottles of wine at $50 a pop and probably $50 in coffee and after dinner drinks. All in all, that is $200 for the restaurant and $40 more in her own pocket that they missed out on.

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Anyway, after getting off on the wrong foot, everything was good, but since I was expecting great, I have to say that I was disappointed...

The food was good, but not great. Some dishes shined, like the Country Ham Tasting, the Grilled Calamari and the Black Risotto, while other dishes just weren't that great, like the Tuna and the Lobster Saffron Risotto. Now, the Lobster Saffrom Risotto tasted good, but there was very little lobster in the dish at all and the serving size was small for $28. The Tuna, on the other hand, was just not good. Overall, here is the deal...

I like this place and I will go back as time passes by, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

We were there on Saturday as well and were much more pleased than you were. Service wasn't perfect, but we really enjoyed our meal, the menu, and the chef's vision for the place. As a fish lover, I'm thrilled by Hook's arrival on the scene, I only wish it was located somewhere else.

The tuna entree was probably our favorite of the dishes we tried. I've not seen blackfin before so I don't have much of a point of comparison on that, but our worries that it would pale in comparison to other types of tuna were misplaced. It wasn't a 'wow, must try' dish, but I didn't see anything wrong with it and left thinking maybe you can't get good bluefin in town anymore, but you can at least get good blackfin tuna.

I was really intrigued by the wine list. LOTS of affordable options. As in more than a dozen bottles for under $30, including 3 muscadets. Our server didn't know much about the list, but when we asked for help picking among the muscadets the chef himself came out to discuss each bottle with us. Apparently muscadets are his favorite. Anyway, I thought it was neat (not the kind of thing that happens to us often) and chef did us one better by adding purslane (apparently an indigenous local herb) to one of our entrees because he thought it would improve its pairing with the wine. And he was totally right.

The space was a little loud (or at least the table immediately next to the bar where we were seated was), and our server was a bit green and occassionally absent, but this was one of my favorite meals out for a very reasonable price. Anyway, if you like good seafood and aren't looking for a quite romantic spot to dine, I highly recommend it.

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Youngfood, I am glad that you liked the tuna, but our piece was definitely mealy, not the texture that we expected at all, it just could have been a bad piece. And, we would have sent it back, but our server was gone for at least 20 minutes after our food was put down.

And, like I said, I would definitely come back here in the future because I am now more and more convinced that our experience was ruined by a pretty crappy server. Hard to hold that against a place completely, but I would never return if it happened again.

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Can someone tell me what "esplenette" is?

(I get 7 google hits, half of them the Hook menu...)

ETA: some kind of pepper maybe?

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Can someone tell me what "esplenette" is?

(I get 7 google hits, half of them the Hook menu...)

ETA: some kind of pepper maybe?

i believe the reference is for piment d'esplette, a dried ground pepper from southern france

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I wish it was located somewhere else, too, youngfood. As you may know, I cross the bridge, but I rarely cross 25th Street, NW. Damn it!

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i believe the reference is for piment d'esplette, a dried ground pepper from southern france
Ah ha! Piment d'esplette. 258,000 google hits. What a difference an "n" makes.

Thank you!

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As per a “Free Ride” vignette in Friday's The Express:

» THE EXPRESS: What do you wear to cook in?

» SEAVER: We got these slim-cut jackets with venting at the back. And I always wear women's Seven jeans — they fit better. It's important to look good for the restaurant....

I enthusiastically applaud Mr. Seaver's campaign for reasonable fish consumption and $175 women's chef duds. I myself cook angel-hair pasta & wild caught Oregonian pink shrimp in Z-Cavaricci trousers when the ladies next door come over to watch The View and play Yahtzee. But what is he doing about panty lines? Do low-riding crotch-compromising designer dames dungarees require any man-scaping or tucking? Does he have a pair of post holiday “fat pants”?

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Damn, straight out of the Pete Wentz book. That takes away some of his hottie points in my book (surely, he's very concerned). I wish I didn't know these things.

To keep this somewhat food-focused, I wish that I had considered Hook for brunch today. We went to Peacock Cafe and while it was good, I think I have been there enough times through the years.

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Cloax and I had dinner at Hook last night. First off I will echo (sorry) the comments above about the space being loud. Really loud. Ridiculously loud. We had a 7pm reservation and realized that we were literally screaming to hear each other by the time dessert arrived. The space is lovely, clean and sleek, but when will restaurant owners/designers realize that a hard floor, hard walls, and a hard (domed no less) ceiling is a recipe for auditory disaster?

The service wasn’t bad exactly, but it wasn’t exactly good either. Too attentive at the beginning, and then oddly dragging. And I’m not sure if it was something in the air or what, but the staff were falling all over each other. Literally. No fewer than three separate occurrences of shattering glass during our dinner.

The food was fine, if mostly unremarkable. We each got a flight of three crudo. I honestly don’t remember which we got, and the server failed to tell us which was which when they arrived at the table. It was good, fresh, fish but left no impression.

I had the Black-Fin Tuna with basil, fennel, and red onion salad, butter potato puree. I was not asked how I wanted the tuna cooked, and assumed it would be done rare, but it arrived over-cooked. The basil, fennel, and red onion salad was fresh and crisp and the best part of the plate. The potatoes were very very highly salted (and I am a salt fiend) and were pureed to the point of being a sticky paste.

Cloax had the Bluefish with potato-parsnip cake, basil walnut pesto, grilled lemon which was the highlight of the evening. The fish was cooked perfectly and very flavorful. The potato cake was light and the pesto and lemon complimented both the fish and the potato well.

We had high hopes for dessert, but were disappointed. He had the walnut cake, with halva ice cream and mascarpone stuffed dates. The dates were cold and paled in comparison to the heavenly version served at Komi. The ice cream was interesting, but the cake was dry to the point of being inedible. I had the almond cake, which was lacking in almond flavor (but I did like the crispy crust), with rhubarb sorbet, which was delicious.

Overall, nothing horribly terribly wrong, but enough minor missteps to prevent us from running back to Hook anytime soon.

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Not a "chef's table" exactly but the kitchen is wide open and there are three tables pretty directly in front of it (a 4-top and two 6-tops I think).

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Two-and-a-half stars from Tom. Start the phrase-parsing!
But no one is doing a better job of convincing the masses of the joys of bluefish, weakfish and other sustainable specimens than the 28-year-old visionary at Hook.

God I impress myself sometimes. Click

Although this guy beat me to it.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Must be one heck of a vision, to be able to extract joy out of the bluefish! I've never liked them, with their deep oily smell and flavor, even before those long-ago fishing trips with my dad which would result in us suffering eating through a freezer full of 'em for a coupla weeks. Somebody oughta figure out how to use them for biofuel.

But that's just my opinion ;)

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Must be one heck of a vision, to be able to extract joy out of the bluefish! I've never liked them, with their deep oily smell and flavor, even before those long-ago fishing trips with my dad which would result in us suffering eating through a freezer full of 'em for a coupla weeks. Somebody oughta figure out how to use them for biofuel.

But that's just my opinion ;)

Smoked, they are delicious. Needs some horseradish folded into some creme fraiche.

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God I impress myself sometimes. Click

Although this guy beat me to it.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I think Anthony Bourdain did as well, at least to the extent that he extolled the fish's virtue in his over-worshiped, but thoroughly enjoyable memior. Anyway, I'm waiting for bluefish sushi. Like mackerel, only stinkier. I can't wait.

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I finally made it to Hook last night for a meal. I had tried to get in a few times before but the bar was either too busy for my tastes or closed on the Monday attempts (they are now open on Mondays.)

I started with the trio of crudo and asked the bartender to select his favorite amongst the 9 or so offerings. I was presented with an extremely elegant plating of white salmon with spring peas, halibut, and mackerel. Each was subtlety brightened with a whisper of sea salt. This understated approach really allowed the flavor of the fish to shine.

The crudo was followed by the grilled calamari. This dish bore no resemblance to the floured and fried to death calamari dishes that are ubiquitous on restaurant menus. It was simply grilled to a sublimely chewy tenderness. This dish walked right up to the line of too salty and dropped the shaker. It was so deftly executed that it seemed as if just one granule more would have been too much.

I will echo the statements of previous posters and Tom Seitsema who have indicated that the elegant but sparingly done room can get loud. But I really enjoyed the energy of the place.

I was finishing a glass of wine when Pastry Chef Heather Chittum snuck up behind me and told me that there was no way in hell I was going to leave without having something sweet. For those of you who don’t know, Heather and I worked together when she was at Notti Bianche and I was the GM there. I responded by saying that I am not much of a sweets person (feel free to remove the “s” at the end of sweet if you know me well enough.) To which she replied that she knew this and selected a dish that she knew I would like.

Like it – no, loved it. Plum compote wrapped in a hazelnut crust served with a healthy scoop of tellegio cheese ice cream was her play on a cheese plate. It was sweet but not achingly so, and a perfect partner to the glass of moscato d’asti I was having. It was such a good pairing that I insisted that the two women, who I had met before and were sitting next to me and also drinking moscato d’asti, try a bite. For the record, they concurred.

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Two fins up for Hook. We went with my in-laws who managed to get out of their Palena, Marcel's, and Seven Seas rut to go somewhere different. I know, that's an odd combination of restaurants, but it's where they go.

The service was informative and helpful, and the food was exceptionally well presented and flavorful. I started with a combination crudo-- a little trout roe, a surprising shrimp on chili-chocolate sauce, and the wahoo, which may have been the most delicately sublime sliver of fish I've ever had. I followed that up with a fairly generous hunk of seared tuna. The fish had a beautifully clean flavor and I loved the saffron pureed potatoes with plenty of olive oil that came with it. I'll be taking a stab at those potatoes at home sometime. The quality of the ingredients here seems pretty much off the charts.

Despite seeing the chef at one point in his girlie jeans, I'll be back!

Edited to add: Yes, it is LOUD downstairs, but if you request a table upstairs the noise level is perfectly reasonable.

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More cheers for Hook. Had lunch here on Thursday with a coworker. We arrived fairly early, but even later on the restaurant was not too busy, so we had no problems with noise. We sat in the back, downstairs. Very attentive, but not intrusive, and friendly service. We started out sharing the crudo flight of three--this was outstanding. Trout roe with orange and some kind of cream, snapper with sexy (Maldon Sea) salt, and tuna with chocolate mint and lime. All I can say is wow--the flavors were so surprising, yet combined so well together. I could make a meal out of trying all of the crudo on my next visit. Ah, but then I wouldn't have room for the rest!

I had the grilled Amberjack, described to me as akin to Mahi Mahi, with more flavor--more fruity, was the term that was used. Not sure if I would say fruity, but definitely flavorful and firm. This was served atop a spinach salad drizzled with balsamic. The combination of the bit of smoky flavor with the sweet of the balsamic on the salad was definitely a winner. My coworker had the Trout, which she said was very good, but a little bland compared to my dish.

We couldn't pass up dessert, so we shared a Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Spearmint Ice Cream and Bourbon Creme Anglaise, and Madeleines served with Rhubarb Compote. The Madeleines were made fresh and brought to the table hot--this was the definite winner of the two desserts. I enjoyed the chocolate cake, and the ice cream was very tasty, but those Madeleines were over the top. Defintely will return!

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i stopped in last night for something sweet after a lovely meal at mendocino. i had the same dish that i had on my last visit. it was again great, but i realized i am not pretty enough to hang out here on a friday night ;)

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Was thinking of popping into Hook for dinner at the bar tomorrow night, at around 8:30. ... I've never been and don't have a good sense of how crowded it gets for bar dining... What are the chances of getting 2 bar stools around that time?

Thanks!

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Was thinking of popping into Hook for dinner at the bar tomorrow night, at around 8:30. ... I've never been and don't have a good sense of how crowded it gets for bar dining... What are the chances of getting 2 bar stools around that time?

Thanks!

You'll probably be directed to the communal table, like I was when I walked in without a res on a Friday evening at about 7, hoping to dine at the bar. It's sort of like a bar--you sit on stools. Major difference is that you are facing another diner rather than the back of the bar, and you have a waiter, rather than ordering food from the bartender.

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