Mack came up with the title.
Although “seafood” isn’t a dirty word, certain varieties of fish, including bluefin tuna and chilean sea bass are heading in that direction. I readily acknowledge that I need to learn more about sustainable seafood practices, and while eating in a restaurant doesn’t necessarily provide education, I found Hook to be at least cognizant of the need for change.
Located on a busy Georgetown street, Hook’s subdued blue awning could be easily missed. The tiny storefront gave way to a long, rectangular space, loosely divided into a small front dining area, a bar, and a larger dining room in the back. Décor was minimal, but helped establish a serene sense of being – white light fixtures, sealife art, polished hardwood.
Mack at Hook
We were seated in the front, sandwiched between a glass pane that separated the host from our table, and another table that bordered the storefront window. It was a little distracting, having to see and hear other patrons as they arrived and were greeted, but the rear dining area probably wasn’t much better – the floor echoed the conversation in the room.
The menu was obviously seafood focused, with a token chicken and beef entrée available to placate those unable or unwilling to eat seafood. Our server was keen to answer our questions, particularly when it came to decoding the varieties of fish we were less familiar with. However, his efficiency bordered on annoying during our meal, as he literally stood behind us and waited for clean plates to clear. Surveillance dining is not for us.
We decided to start with an order of the grilled calamari with potato salad and basil walnut pesto, which the server promised would be amazing. Our entrees were based entirely upon our desire to try a new type of fish and our server’s depiction of them. I ended up with a prosciutto-wrapped lingcod, which was likened to most other white fish, while Mack chose moonfish, described as being “pink”, which we compared to the flesh colour of salmon.
While we waited for our appetizers, we munched on slices of baguette. Instead of butter or perhaps olive oil and balsamic vinegar, we were given a bowl of mayonnaise to accompany our bread – needless to say, we chose to enjoy our bread unadorned.
The calamari plate was plumped up with a fair quantity of potato side. I have never been a fan of squid’s chewy consistency, but Mack was impressed by the contrasting flavours – the slightly charred tips, and the tang of a citrus finish.
Both of our entrees contained a fair amount of fish. My lingcod was tender, but in terms of flavour, was nothing special. I’m not sure I would have been able to distinguish this variety from others. The underlying gnocchi was actually the star of the plate anyway, and easily rivalled Proof’s meltingly delicious dumplings.
Lingcod with Gnocchi
Unfortunately, Mack had a terrible experience with his fish – it turned out our server’s definition of “pink” fish spoke more to the cooking technique of simply searing the fish, leaving the core of the steak raw. He probably should have sent it back to request that it be cooked through, but he managed to finish most of it.
Dessert was a chocolate tart with ice cream and caramel. Made by “DC’s Pastry Chef of the Year”, it was indeed a decadent desert, the richness of the chocolate cut through by the salt and caramel. This was a savoury-sweet combination I enjoyed thoroughly.
With our billfold we were given a handy pocket-sized copy of The Blue Ocean Institute’s Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood. It listed, in descending order, types of seafood that are relatively abundant, with fishing or farming methods that cause relatively little damage to habitat and other wildlife, with species containing high levels of mercury or PCBs clearly marked. It is a great resource to have (and one which I now keep with me at all times), but for a restaurant that prides itself on sustainable sourcing (and to some extent, education of the consumer), this guide should have either been provided at the beginning of the meal, or incorporated into the menu somehow.
As a whole, our meal at Hook was the least memorable of our restaurant experiences in DC.
3241 M St NW