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.