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Joe Riley

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

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Linzertorte with Taleggio ice cream. Damn, was that good.

What about the three postage stamps for eight dollars you were telling me about? :angry:

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What about the three postage stamps for eight dollars you were telling me about? :angry:

After all the talk on here about the crudo and its magnificence, I was expecting great things from it last weekend. Instead, I got a tiny lump of flavorless mahi mahi that was only saved by a dollop of something that tasted like salted mayo, king salmon with blueberries, which sounded so interesting that it had to be ordered, but the combination just did not work at all, and a postage stamp of black tuna that tasted great, but was only one small bite.

I could have had 3 of these flights of 3 and still be hungry afterwards. Not a generous portion to say the least, although the fish was very fresh.

The bluefish with pesto was plentiful and outstanding, though, and the grilled calamari was nice if a bit too smoky for my taste.

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I could have had 3 of these flights of 3 and still be hungry afterwards. Not a generous portion to say the least, although the fish was very fresh.

I think they've recently gotten smaller (and also a bit less complex). I sort-of-kind-of noticed it earlier this month, but I really noticed it last week. I'm certain this is a temporary blip, and has nothing to do with Tom's review having come out.

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I think they've recently gotten smaller (and also a bit less complex). I sort-of-kind-of noticed it earlier this month, but I really noticed it last week. I'm certain this is a temporary blip, and has nothing to do with Tom's review having come out.
I was in earlier this month as well and had the same experience. The King Salmon with Blueberries, which I too had to order since it sounded so interesting, was comical: the postage stamp sized piece of fish topped with a single blueberry.

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We got to Hook last night (Saturday) for our first time. Excellent meal. Sharp service.

Arrived at 8:30 for our reservation and were promptly seated. Bar was pretty full, quite loud. But, I admit to liking a loud place... makes it easier to talk freely and not worry about being overheard.

Started with 3 crudos, of course. Just asked for whatever were the 3 recommendations from our waiter, and he brought mackerel, wahoo w/ blueberry, barracuda. Of these three, wahoo was the most underwhelming. We both enjoyed the barracuda the most. All 3 are single bites, but its very easy to split them between 2. The mackerel is actually 3 slices. The other 2 are aforementoined "postage stamps" but this is clearly the point.

Bread basket arrived after crudos were cleared, and they're a mixed choices. I only mention because it included 2 flat biscuits that were excellent. There's also a couple slices of baguette and a couple rolls. More than enough, and we let most of it be, so as not to fill up on it. Side of really soft butter, capable of dipping. I assume this is on purpose.

I got the calamari with potato salad appetizer. Squids are small and whole, superbly grilled. The potato salad accompanyment was fine, but I left most of it. I didn't get the pairing, but the squids were more than enough. She had the cold wax bean salad, which she enjoyed, but I couldn't pull myself away from the calamari.

Entrees were blue fish over a potato & zucchini cake for me, and barracuda over barley with fried kale (like Rasika's spinach). Both were superb. Waiter called the blue fish the chef's signature dish.

The thing about ordering at Hook is that you probably haven't had many of the fish choices, so you gotta take a recommendation or choose by the preparation. The waiter was very knowledgable about fishiness, texture, etc. of each item and he gave a lot of guidance. He points out that its all sustainable, organic, and lot of local (with some other from Tabego).

For wine, had the Ridge '03 Syrah. Bottle was a little warm upon arrival, and this is a pet peeve of ours. And unfortunately not uncommon, even in high end places. Cost was $66, and we really enjoyed it. Markup is probably about $30, based on a little web research. One minor glitch with the wine service: waiter offered me the tasting although she ordered. (She always orders, since I'm too easily up charged.... ha.) Wine list is broken down well, runs the gamut price-wise and geographically.

For dessert, had "The Bakery" which is a cannoli, pain au chocolate, and a donut. Also easily shared. Donut was a bit dry and didn't blow us away. Pain au choc was also a bit dry in the pastry, but filling was creamy and great. Cannoli was excellent, and fulfilled our craving from last weekend's trip to an Italian place in Rockville that didn't have them. Accompanied it with a couple ports.

Total bill was $200 plus tip.

Our ratings:

Food: 4 of 5 stars (tasty, portions reasonable)

Service: 4 of 5 stars (knowledgable, friendly, helpful)

Price: as expected, you pay for the top notch

Overall: 4 of 5 (we'll definately be back!)

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I thought barracuda was poisonous?
I'm still here, 36 hours after the meal. However, a Google search and Wikipedia does point to Ciguatera poisoning from the fish. I suppose that Hook has taken steps to prevent such a loss of customers. :angry:

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I'm still here, 36 hours after the meal. However, a Google search and Wikipedia does point to Ciguatera poisoning from the fish. I suppose that Hook has taken steps to prevent such a loss of customers. B)

Well, should you drop dead, please let us know. :angry:

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Well, should you drop dead, please let us know. :angry:

That's greater barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) which can't legally be sold in the United States. It must be some other species that is being served at Hook. It could be the incredibly popular and tasty snoek (aka snook) which is found in South Africa and is not actually barracuda. It's actually from the mackerel and tuna family. However, in the U.K., snoek is a barracuda, but it is Sphyraena japonica. I don't know if the other sphyraena species are sources of ciguatoxin.

The FDA website actually says that many fish species can be the source of ciguatoxin:

Marine finfish most commonly implicated in ciguatera fish poisoning include the groupers, barracudas, snappers, jacks, mackerel, and triggerfish. Many other species of warm-water fishes harbor ciguatera toxins. The occurrence of toxic fish is sporadic, and not all fish of a given species or from a given locality will be toxic.

Ellen

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Most reef species carry some level of ciguatoxin. The bigger the fish, the higher the accumulation of toxin. In low levels you probably won't notice. But if you get a full blown hit you can have lifelong central nervous system problems. Barracuda are considered a high risk species because they are long lived and predators -- extra opportunity to accumulate toxins. There are all sorts of folk lore in the Caribbean that have kept island communities from eating barracuda.

Generally, our groupers are too small to be a big risk but the stocks are starting to rebound due to improvements in management and there are discussions of maximum catch sizes to protect human health.

There is a lot of research being done on better detection of the presence of toxins that could be done onboard fishing boats. The idea being do a small catch, test, and if hot move on to another spot. An entire catch of hot fish or shellfish causes disposal problems and is a waste.

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Though I'm still mad at Chef Seaver for leaving my hood for posher digs, I must say he's doing a great job at Hook.

Stopped in for an RW lunch. Started with the grilled peach and prosciutto salad. Can't say no to peaches in the summer! It was a nice twist on the usual melon/prosciutto combination. My second course tuna was served rare as requested. The fish was light and fresh, but I didn't get much of the touted saffron flavor in the potato puree underneath.

I love Heather Chittum's desserts. They are always light and never too sweet. I was scarred by a bad panna cotta experience early in life so I tend to shy away but the bites of my dining companion's lemon panna cotta I snuck were amazing. Great texture, great citrusy tang. My chocolate pudding pie was also great. The crust was buttery and crisp. I hate dealing with the Georgetown crowd (I swear- I saw some nasty cougar grope the chef's ass as he was working the room) but it's worth it for the food!

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I just came back from Hook, and have to admit: I was impressed. J and I went for a RW lunch, seeing as working for non-profits isn't really bringing in the gold bricks, and I was really surprised at the care and thoughtful attention that the food received. I had a flight of crudo, including the yellow-fin tuna/lime salt, wahoo and an oyster with muscat jelly (sounds disgusting, but you would be wrong). The crudo pairings properly accented each piece of fish, and I swooned over the oyster a bit- fresh briny goodness just slightly altered by the presence of the muscat. I washed that down with a glass of cava (mmmm... decadence tastes good) and was approaching nirvana.

For the main course, I had the Artic Char, served over a delicious, caper-y caponata/ratatouille, served with a delicate bitter green salad. It all worked well together, the caponata being an excellent foil for the rich flavor of the char. J had the tuna, seared and served over polenta with a basil/fennel/red onion preparation, which combined the best of the seared flavor of the tuna and the creaminess of the polenta. Coffee and a tart and creamy buttermilk panna cotta, , covered in a blueberry sauce, finished out a fantastic meal.

The service was very attentive and gracious with out being saccharine- and it must be said, almost everyone who works here is very attractive. Maybe it's required. There was a delay in bringing our desserts (a confusing delay, considering panna cotta is just sort of dumped onto a plate and some blueberry sauce is spattered about), but it was a nice space to continue our conversation while we waited, and our server was apologetic.

I'm not the most critical of eaters, but I'm not afraid to call a spade a spade, and this meal was most definitely not a spade. It was fantastic. Highly recommended!

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Remember Hook? That sustainable seafood place in Georgetown that was getting all the attention up until about a month ago?

Barton Seaver was still there tonight, cranking out the dishes, and just as importantly, Heather Chittum is still working the desserts.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake ($9) is a cylinder of a dense, creamy-goat-cheese-based "cake" sitting atop an almost-undiscernable round of flatbread, with a crescent of seriously deep beet sorbet, and a giant tear-drop of arugula syrup completing the triad of Yeah, baby! It never slips into a level of condescension, because the only serious sweetness comes from the arugula syrup, and the rest of the dish retains a savory undertone. It's a wonderful dish not only for it's vibrant, brilliant coloring and almost-sarcastic fun-poke at a ubiquitously overdone salad, but also for what it delivers, because it just tastes sooo good.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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There are days when the diet is going so well that you feel the need to celebrate. Tonight was one of those nights. And while I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic waiting to get to Rock Creek Parkway & ultimately Palena to satiate the craving Wednesday's food section sparked, I found my mind wandering down M Street thinking of places that would suit the occasion just as well, if not better, without all the waiting. Luckily my dining companion had a similar thought & off we went to Hook. Thank god we did! I don't recall a better use of $62.80 lately - and believe me, I've put that to the test this week.

We grabbed the last two seats at the communal table next to two friendly gents from the great metropolis of Austin, Tex. I was already enjoying myself. As the bubbly was poured into my glass, prospects were getting even better. I had the perfect view of the kitchen (with Chef Seaver at expo) if I just leaned back a bit. :blink:

My crudo selection consisted of the salmon with sexy salt, yellow fin tuna tartar and the barracuda. YUM. I wasn't in love with the barracuda - maybe since the texture was such a stark contrast to the other two wells on my plate - but the flavor combination for that two-biter was a fun way to end the first course. I got the halibut for the entree & I'm glad I chose 'moe' in the einee-meenie-miney game I was playing between that and the bluefish. The fish was bursting with flavor, cooked perfectly with a verdant sauce and the most addicting sweet potato discs known to man. I was sad I had to share even one bite. My friend got the barracuda for the main, and while the taste was spectacular, it seemed like a tough piece of fish to contend with (yes, I had tackle written, but just couldn't do it).

Not wanting to miss the chance to try a HC dessert, we split the sweet risotto fritters with chocolate fudge sorbet. Perfection on a plate. I'm glad we shared it though!

The fact that I drove into the city tonight for a $10 hamburger and ended up with a three-digit bill when all was said & done is completely eclipsed by the fact that I just had the most delicious meal I've had the pleasure of eating in a long time. I can't wait to lose another 10 pounds for the excuse to go back again to celebrate! Maybe next time I'll let someone else pay though.

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Tips for an enjoyable dinner at the bar at Hook

Step 1: Get a flight of crudo, with two bites of your choice, but ensuring that you save a spot for the yellow-fin tuna (not necessarily the tartare)

Step 2: Get the amberjack w/ saffron risotto & pistachios.

Step 3: Thank Barton Seaver for making sure that the seafood is sustainable, thus ensuring many more delicious meals to come.

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I was at Hook last night to meet a friend. I don't often get to Georgetown so this is the first time I tried the restaurant. I ate at the bar and nearly everything was very good.

I began with a flight of three crudi: Revel Island oyster, Yellow Fin tartar, and mackerel. The oyster was a perfect specimen, clean and fresh tasting, and highlighted to good effect by a light vinaigrette. The mackerel was also very fresh tasting. Unfortunately, the tuna did not taste at its peak. This was a small drawback that did little to diminish my enjoyment of the dish, but when I take a bite of raw tuna I expect the word "clean" to pop immediately into mind, and it didn't. The 1/2-inch chip of pickled watermelon it was served with looked pretty but otherwise seemed pointless.

I then had a parsnip and potato soup whose precise preparation I cannot recall but which was very well flavored and garnished--thoroughly enjoyable in every way.

Then came a delicious, succulent steak of Amberjack, perfectly grilled and served over a bed of saffron risotto worthy of the proudest Milanese chef and studded with pistachios. All these flavors really brought out the meaty but light flavor of the Amberjack, which was a fish I hadn't heard of before.

Milton at the bar makes excellent martinis, and service throughout was excellent. I was also glad to see Ralph, formerly of Bistro Bis, bringing his low-key professionalism to the FOH. The creativity and imagination of Hook's fish preparations are matched by the decor and atmosphere of the place, which exudes tasteful swank. As I said, I don't get to Georgetown often, but my guess would be that Hook and Mendocino are probably the best things going on M street right now.

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Anyone been lately? Any recommendations? I haven't been since May, am going to brave the weather to trek down there tonight.

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Stopped in here early yesterday evening for a pre-movie* meal. It's the first time I've been, and I'll certainly be going back. We were seated in the upstairs dining room, and because we ate at 6, there was only one other table occupied when we got there. Started out with the Byzantine cocktail, which was a very spring-like mix of gin, pineapple, tonic and basil; mr m. had a big cold glass of sapphire which may have had vermouth mentioned somewhere in its presence.

We split the yellowfin crudo. One fish, three preparations: in this case, a mint/nutmeg (neat, fun, the nutmeg brings out the meatiness of the fish); one with some sort of emulsion & toasted capers (eh. The toasted capers were cute in theory, didn't knock my socks off, also I forgot what I was eating & thought they were salty walnuts); and a ginger/scallion, which made us both hanker after the kind of poke we used to eat once a week in Honolulu.

I had the bluefish entree, served with a parsnip/potato cake & a walnut pesto. Excellent. Mr. M. had the rockfish with cornbread & little toasty bacon bits sprinkled on the skin. Superb. Bread basket was good, too; a very cheesy fluffy muffin-like affair, pepper biscuits, and whole-wheat baguette-ish slices.

About this point, the sun was setting, and the upstairs room took on a faint orange glow from the streetlight directly outside. There's a giant picture of a sunset to the left of the bar, too -- it's a neat perceptual effect, & I kept looking out the window for an *actual* sunset. We were heading to a movie, and debating whether to get dessert (well, mr. m was debating -- I was just waiting for him to come to the proper conclusion by himself).

If you leave this restaurant without ordering dessert, you have done yourself a grave disservice. Heather Chittum deserves the keys to the city. I had the Lingonberry Linzertorte with Taleggio ice cream. Divine. Exquisite. And really, really smart. The torte is a chewy nutty short pastry tart, inside of which is a fabulously sticky but not too sweet berry jam. It's plated with a port wine reduction and the taleggio ice cream. The ice cream is funky and tangy -- reminded me a lot of crema mexicana** , with a blue note. The whole dish is really a dessert take on a cheese/fruit/port course. Mr M had the banana cream pie, which comes with a malted chocolate/caramel sauce. Also excellent.

================================================================================

*The Bank Job. Think "The Italian Job", sans Michael Caine & the minis, but with the addition of some MI6 intrigue. Fun.

**Which I'm apt to eat straight from the jar, with a sprinkle of sugar & some blueberries & chocolate chips.

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Started out with the Byzantine cocktail, which was a very spring-like mix of gin, pineapple, tonic and basil; mr m. had a big cold glass of sapphire which may have had vermouth mentioned somewhere in its presence.

Why is it called the Byzantine cocktail? Is it unnecessarily complicated or was it a favorite of Empress Theodora's during her various scandalous goings-on?

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Curious if anyone has been in the past month. My family is going for the first time tomorrow evening.

Pax,

Brian

I only had a snack at the bar, but the artichoke fritters were very good. amazing amount of artichoke flavor, but no texture/fiber issues.

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