Wine Refrigerators and Emergency Hammers
Taste of Wheaton

Hook Restaurant

Ever since I found out that Barton Seaver was leaving Cafe Saint Ex to go to Hook in late February, I've been anxiously awaiting the restaurant's opening. One of the things I liked the most about Cafe Saint Ex were the seafood dishes, and the idea that Hook would be primarily a seafood restaurant was exciting.

There's obviously been a lot of buzz around the opening of Hook, because calling same day to get a reservation and Thursday was challenging. As usual my lack of planning ahead meant I couldn't to drop by Hook until the following Saturday after it opened. The place was bustling with people.

The space, previously occupied by Cilantro, has been completely remodeled to give it a sleek, modern look. The bar at Hook takes up almost half of the restaurant, which will make it a popular happy hour spot for the Georgetown crowd. Even though space is limited, the owners haven't spaced the tables too closely together, so you have a good amount of privacy when eating. Despite the modern look, the atmosphere is pretty casual at Hook, but people still seem to dress up a little (Dress is dress casual to business casual.) Amy noticed that high heeled stilettos were a common sight.

The wines selection seems well thought out and the prices will suit anyones budget ($26 to $140 a bottle). Most interesting is that the wines are sorted by how strong and complex the flavor is which makes it easy to pick out a wine. Of course, when you're dealing with seafood, it can't hurt to pick out a Muscadet (I had a nice Muscadet from Loire, France and loved it. It's a very good choice at $28 a bottle.)

You should start you meal at Hook with a crudo sampler (or two). Crudo are slices of raw fish (basically sushi Sashimi) that come served with some condiments like a grapefruit slice, ginger, an oil, or something similar. For the more adventurous fish eater, skip the oyster, tuna, and salmon, and go for the wahoo, weakfish, or mackerel which have more interesting preparation. If you're there with a companion, the sampler comes with three that can each be shared between two, so don't feel like you need to order a set for each person.

For appetizers, the grilled shrimp are a hit and give any grilled shrimp in the area a run for their money (yes, even Ray's). They come on top of salty stewed beans that taste like they have a ton of pork fat in them. We also had the "country ham tasting" which is a Virginia version of a Charcuterie plate, but in the stead of prosciutto and french bread, you get Virginia ham and biscuits. I really think this would be perfect if it came with some sausage gravy on the side instead of mustard.

Fish dominate the entrees at Hook like the rest of the menu, except for the mushroom risotto and pork belly dishes. I really enjoyed the bluefish which is one of your more dense, oily fishes, but is complemented nicely with a basil pesto. Serving sizes aren't huge, which can be one of the drawbacks depending on how you look at it. Personally, I was pretty full at the end of the night and you know how big of an appetite I have.

Desserts are done by Heather Chittum, formerly of Circle Bistro, Dish, Notti Bianche, and...oh right, Citronelle. My favorite dessert ever from Circle Bistro has returned on the menu at Hook which are the Madeleines. They're soft and lemony and a light way to finish off the meal.

Oh, and I happened to bump into Sebastian Zutant at the bar, former sommelier of Komi, Rasika and the future sommelier of Proof. When I asked about the status of Proof, he said that it wont be open until very late May. He seemed to be having a good time like Amy and I, although it could have been the wine.

Hook Restaurant
3241 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007


jim collins

Hook was featured on the front page of the WaPo Food section today.


Being picky - i think you mean "sashimi" not "sushi" when you are describing crudo.


yeah, yeah :)


What are the prices like?


Not too bad. Entrees are in the $20s - apps in the $7 to $15 range.


Jason - I agree completely with your review. Was there this past Wednesday for an excellent special occassion dinner. If you go again, try the Sablefish. Was incredible!


The most notable thing about this restaurant is that it serves only seafood from sustainable sources. We need more restaurants like this.


While Hook has more of a New York City atmosphere than most DC restaurants, which tend to feel like chains, it does not achieve the level I would have expected. Within seconds of sitting down, you are bombarded by an overzealous waiter who wants to explain every minute detail of the menu. While I can appreciate the need to understand what is being served, Hooks method of informing is overwhelming and a put off. Rather than explain everything on the menu, let the client ask the questions. YES, we know you offer only sustainable food. We get it; you’ve written it and said it a million times, now move on. The Crudo (Smoked Salmon, Tuna Tartar, Barracuda), Appetizers (Beet Salad, Grilled Calamari), Entrees (Clam & Linguini, Sablefish), and desert (Nutella surprise, Pineapple Carpaccio) were all very well done and delicious, however the Sablefish was cold after 30 seconds, the Linguini slightly over cooked, and the Crudo is a tribute to Nouvelle Cuisine portion size, a trend that should have died long ago. These were not a big deal, but still. The Calamari was the best I’ve tasted in DC.

My issue is not so much with the food, as with the service and over all attitudes of those working at Hook. I wonder if it will be the same in a year, after all the hype has died down. As for price, nothing is overly expensive, however it does add up very quickly. My one advice to save money is avoid the prosecco offered with the Crudo. It’s not very good, and at $9 a glass, you’re better off ordering a good bottle of wine up front. Hook is probably the best place in DC to get fish that no one else offers, however, all around, there are better places to go. I was surprised when the Post only gave it a review of two and a half stars. Now I feel that is appropriate, if not a half star too much.


- I have to say that I was disappointed by this place overall.
- The cocktails were alcohol free and too sweet even for a sweettooth.
- The crudo is very small and should contain two pieces per selection, but doesn't.
- The appetizers are all animal based, so there is only salad to whet the appetite before entrees.
- The seafood entrees are very small.
- There are no side dishes available at all, so you just have a fish and a small side item that is basically a garnish.
- The bread was not special.
- The garlic mayo that comes with the bread is very good.
- The fish is cooked beautifully.
- The atmosphere is nice.
- Georgetown needed a place like this that is chic but comfortable.
- The need to raise the prices and increase portion sizes.
- They badly need side dishes to order with the entrees.


I find the food ordinary and the service insufferable.

Typical of the swill that transplants to this area consider acceptable. Maybe in Pennsylvania.

Mike Bober

Brain - can you be a bit more specific? What did you order? When did you go?

"Ordinary" and "swill" are two very different things, in my mind - one is nothing special, the other is near inedible.

And considering how few people live their entire lives in DC, I'm also a bit put off by your generalization about "transplants."

If you could give some more context, that might help others who are considering dining at Hook.


Just had dinner at Hook. While the fish itself was delicious, felt the wine was incredibly overpriced (and we belatedly realized we had been charged for a more expensive bottle of wine). We live in Georgetown, but $150 for a dinner for two--we'll take the bus to Corduroy any day of the week...


Ate there last week. Menu is interesting, wine list too expensive for the wines listed. Food preparation was superb. Some of the best seafood we have had. The room is small, crowded and too loud to talk to each other across a small table. Insufferable. Overly aggressive and intrusive wait staff. We were rushed from the time wwe sat down until we chose to leave without coffee and desert because of the noise and service. Back out on the street in 59 minutes despite asking several times to slow things down. At one point, had half our cocktails, an opened bottle of wine and appetizers on the table all at once. The instant the appetizer plates were cleared, the entrees were delivered. Probably will never go back because of the overall unpleasantness of the noise and their obvious push to turn the table. Really too bad because the food and the sustainable seafood concept are admirable.

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