This one had been on my list for a long time. Read about it in a foodie mag or newspaper food section and LOVED the idea.
Good fish spots know from what waters their fish arrived. Hook can introduce you to the fisherman who caught what's on your plate.
Add local produce to that, an expert hand at preparation, and a fantastic eye for making raw or cooked fishy LOOK good; and you have a reason to actually make me consider wading through the throngs of Dolce Gabbana-wearing, Banana Republic is my Good Will -shopping, Starbucks if for poor people-coffee drinking Georgetown glitterati.
And let me tell you, with 6:45 reservations, wade you must.
Met Mom for a Mom's day dinner. She was at the bar waiting when I arrived sipping on a Tanqueray Martooni, very dry. When we got to the table I joined in with my standard Maker's Mark Manhattan, up.
The menu has changed since this online version but several of our items are on it.
The Mano de Leon (head of the Lion there, folks) that's listed in the 2nd and 3rd courses is now only a 1st course. I asked if it came in the shell for presentation so I could see what this head of the lion is all about. Sadly, it did not. But that, you fine foodie followers, was one of only three VERY MINOR disappointments all night.
Three preparations on Monday. Long plate with three distinct sections. Two thin slices of raw scallop on each.
Left to right now. Follow me. Sweet Carrot puree. Nice complement to the sweet of the scallop. Scallops with a grapefruit wedge. Trying for the contrast tart and sweet. Grapefruit overpowered the scallop just a wee bit. Nice texture to both components though. Third was a ginger parsley oil. Spice and sweet here, and it worked perfectly.
Mom went Moon fish. Also 2nd and 3rd on the menu above but only a 1st course option on the menu we had. Don't recall her preparations. Maybe she'll chime in in the comments.
Her second was a fresh arugula salad with prosciutto and parmesan. It was clean-plated in short order. Waiter noted, and mom agreed, that the local arugula they got was uber-peppery.
I went Mussels. Blue Mussels. Cooked in white wine and tomatoes. With Merguez! Sooooo many Mussels. If you went into Hook looking for a bargain (and really, don't go here for that), this was it. I couldn't finish all the Mussels. Ate maybe half of them. 2/3-golf ball sized, perfectly cooked, amazingly fresh, a mild flavor that was the perfect foil for that spicy sausage.
In case you can't tell, I really dug the Mussels. I wanted to eat more of them. I wanted to eat ALL of them. But it didn't happen. Because I knew there was more.
Wine was ordered. Mom went Tombo Ahi for dinner and my mild Lingcod was wrapped in bacon. Umm, well prosciutto see. So kinda bacon.
Anyway. Ordered the Ludovicus Celler Piñol. $42/bottle made it on the lower end of the price scale for a bottle for sure. And don't be afraid to do that. Don't take my word for it. Food & Wine's Lettie Teague does it HERE.
This one was a Garnacha, Tempranillo, Syrah blend. Light-bodied. Good with both entrees. A little spicy too, which I love. I want either a glass of some berry jam of the Zinfandel variety or a glass someone stood over with the pepper mill for a good thirty seconds. This was the latter. Mom and I both looked up and decided to say we really like Tempranillo. If you're still sorting through cabs and merlots, stop. France will be there when you get back. Get an inexpensive Spanish red or two and see what's what.
Right, back to the food. Quickly on the second minor disappointment. Minor enough that we didn't say anything because it really just didn't rise to that level. Tombo Ahi was cooked probably 30 seconds too long. Juuuuust too much crust before you got to the melt in your mouth buttery rare interior. And you really wanted more of that interior. Like another order of the fish.
Prepared with ramps (one of the selling points for Mom ordering it) and roast beets (cinnamon, ginger, few other goodies).
Mine was the Lingcod. Not on your menu above. Alaskan (Thanks Sarah!). Mild, white, flakes so small you couldn't see 'em.
Close your eyes. Wait. If you've never been camping, then nevermind. But you guys that have? Close 'em.
There have been mornings around a campfire when you have pan fried a fish in the same cast iron skillet in which you cooked the bacon. You did cook the bacon, right?
That's this fish. It's every mild white fish from a brook, stream, creek, crick, or river that has ever been perfectly cooked in cast iron over a fire.
It was amazing. Crispy prosciutto, zucchini, tomato, gnocchi. Light in every way.
Okay, I've had my moment.
We skipped dessert since it was getting late (yeah, 6:45 reservation and it was getting late when we finished) and we were both three-coursed out. But they do have DC's pastry chef of the year. So someday soon, when I work up the courage to brave the throngs again, I'll skip a course of seafood and get with the pastry goodness too.
One final note. Prices. I think both Mom and I felt good getting out of there for what we did. The crudo course for $8? That's a great price for such high quality food. $14-ish for the Mussels? Yeah, fast food places could put that on their value menu for the amount of mind-blowing seafood in that bowl. $25-ish for main courses? No problem.
$13 for a Maker's Mark Manhattan and the same for a Tanqueray Martini? Come on guys, I know what your liquor costs are on those bottles. If you're going there, at least get a full pour into the glasses.
There. I said it. Now get over that last graph and remember the luscious preparations, view of the Georgetown-ites bustling by your table, impressive variety of local flavors, and the sustainably caught fishies that make your belly happy.