Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Apr 27, 2007 07:29 AM


Has anyone checked out Hook yet?

I went to their website and the menu looks very promising although there is no price listings...which is a little frustrating. Definitly waiting to hear word on what a basic appetizer and entree would cost.

So any early reviews out there???

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I tried Hook on Friday night and liked it a lot. We were a three top walk-in group and waited at the bar for about 20 minutes for a table (despite it being buzzing like crazy). The bartender is a really nice guy but drinks were very pricey.

    We sampled two flights of crudo, and the clear winner there was the salmon. It was heavenly. I could have made a meal out of just that. The tuna and oyster ones were pretty whatever, the wahoo was tasty.

    I had the sablefish with lentils, which was great and my boyfriend had the salmon which was really excellent. It was so weird, it was totally white, but had the best salmon flavor. SO much for colored feed for farmed salmon, huh? Our friend had the halibut, which, despite being recommended by the waitress, was totally tasteless. He was pretty dissappointed.

    For dessert, we had the doughnut balls with nutella creme which was great.

    The prices are in the $20s for entrees, the flights of crudo are $8 and you get three, and I think I remember appetizers being in the low teens.

    I thought it was a really nice place with tasy food. The place looks great (I never went to it's immediate predecessor, but it's an improvement from Firehook) and the chef stopped by and said hi to the table. I hope it survives!

    1 Reply
    1. re: caphill2320

      Great review!! Seems very promising. I'll have to check it out once things calm down a little bit.

    2. Had a nice experience there. Very solicitous service. The waitress even gave me an impromptu blind tasting of two whites by the glass when I asked for a pairing recommendation.

      The salmon and wahoo crudo were good but seemed a bit lost in their accompaniments. The trout roe, on the other hand, was perfection with a toast sliver and creme fraiche.

      I tend to avoid tuna steaks because they can be so bland, but the wood grilling at Hook gave my wife's entree a nice bit of extra flavor. She's making a game effort to overcome a general aversion to fish, and so she asked for medium-rare rather than the recommended rare, but it was still seared pretty darn rare. My bluefish was good, but the tuna was probably better. Each came with its own tuber puree of some sort, both of which were very nice.

      The dessert menu looked great (strawberries three ways!), but we passed.

      One caution: Try to sit downstairs if at all possible. It's a vibrant and beautiful room, whereas the upstairs (where we sat) is dull and not much to look at. Also: This is not an inexpensive restaurant.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

        How inexpensive is inexpensive? Caphill said the entrees were in the $20s and appetizers around $8. Does that seem about right? How about the wines by the glass? Decently priced?

        1. re: Elyssa

          We ended up in three digits for a couple having only two courses (and they really push four courses) and a couple of drinks each -- that synopsis sounds right, but the entrees are WELL into the 20s. The wine prices were typical, I think -- they didn't register with me one way or the other.

      2. Hook opened four weeks ago so we thought it should be settled down enough for a try tonight. We were both pleasantly surprised. It is definitely worth trying.

        The ambiance is sort of a casual elegance. There is a bar in front that was quite busy nd seating upstairs and downstairs. We sat downstairs.

        Service began with an off-note as we were barely seated and hadn't looked at the menu at all when the server arrived to ask if we were having crudo as they recommend a glass of proseco with it. We declined and asked for time to read the menu and wine list.

        Hook offers seven crudo [raw fish --Italian sashimi]. We chose six: I enjoyed all six and my GF was ho-hum about them all except the mahi mahi which we both thought was the best. The selection changes frequently. I recommend it. My GF doesn't.

        We skipped appetizers and went straight to entrees I had wahoo with asparagus and carrot puree. It was terrific. I highly recommend it. My GF had wood grilled blue fish. We both liked both entrees very much. The chef de cuisine [formerly with Bar Pilar] delivered both entrees to the table and explained them both. [The exceutive chef was formerly at Cafe St. Ex].

        For dessert she had pineapple carpaccio. Neither of us would recommend it excpet for the basil ice cream that accompanied it. I had walnut cake with rhubarb ice cream. It was terrific and we both recommend that.

        We both want to try it again. Not my favorite seafood restaurant but definitely in the top 5 based on one meal. After the initial proseco sale spitch, the service was firendly, helpful, attentive, and struck just the right note. Prices are moderate with six crudo, two entrees, two desserts, four glasses of wine and one glass of port costing only $150 (pre-tip).

        8 Replies
        1. re: Dakota Guy

          On Tom's chat today a bunch of people, including Tom, mentioned this Proseco push. How weird! Kinda obvious don't you think since everyone is commenting on it. I imagine they will be changing their pitch now that it has been exposed on

          1. re: Elyssa

            Is it so bad to recommend a drink pairing with an appetizer? The last time I was at L'Auberge Chez Francois they recommended some frou-frou cocktail to start the meal. I opted for a martini. Gin, of course.

            1. re: dcs

              Is it really possible that a glass of Prosecco pairs well with every single appetizer? Because from what I understand they offer it up before they even know what you are ordering. That becomes so clear that they are just pushing it for one reason or another...not just giving culinary insight to a taste pairing.

              1. re: Elyssa

                I agree that prosecco is not a one size fits all pairing. I got the impression from Dakota Guy's post that it was suggested as an accompaniment to the crudo.

              2. re: dcs

                No, it is not so bad to recommend a drink pairing with an appetizer, but ONLY when one orders that appetizer. In my case (and others), the server was pushing the proseco before I had even looked at the menu, much less decided to order the crudo. The thought was right but the timing was waaay off.

                Yes, Chez Francois pushs their "signature" kir royale. It is annoying there too. But Hook is pushing a paring for something you haven't even ordered yet. A different situation and even more annoying.

            2. re: Dakota Guy

              We ate at Hook on Friday night. Conclusion: some food was quite excellent; some was priced far too high for the meager portions; and the service was seriously unfortunate (hopefully an early kink that can be worked out - hopefully! - but maybe not given some of what I read here).

              The four of us had a reservation, and we were promptly seated at a generously sized six-top. Oddly, no one ever cleared the other two settings -- which came in handy, as it turns out, as there were times someone needed a new utensil but no waitstaff was around. Also odd because after food service began, diners' plates would be whisked away before others (or even that diner, sometimes) were done. Clear the ones nobody is using first, how 'bout it!

              Two of us ordered crudos and two others ordered appetizers. This led to serious mis-pacing. After a lo-o-ong wait, first came the crudos for half the table, then came another lo-o-o-o-onger wait, then came the appetizers for the other half of the table. That being said, all of the crudos I tried (and that were reported to me) were amazingly clean and fresh, showing off the high quality fish very nicely. I also tasted the gilled squid appetizer and found it perfectly cooked, fully flavored, nicely textured. All real winners.

              Then came the longest wait yet. By then, the two of us drinking wine had finished the bottle, and the waiter started showing up again, hanging out at the table pushing for us to order another bottle. He finally laid off when the third "we need to discuss it" was punctuated with "among ourselves."

              I had the king salmon entree and it was lovely. I was amazed at how perfectly cooked it was. It had a full rich taste that was not overwhelmed by the stronger flavor of the medley of wild mushrooms. Others reported far less stellar results. The offense was the $30+ plate of lobster risotto that was seriously skimpy and had little discernable lobster meat.

              A note on the wine list: we favor reds, but for a fish place, there were very few good pinot noirs or other lighter reds from which to choose. And many such that were listed were only available in (expensive) half bottles. A serious deficiency in my book for any place trying to be a serious dining destination for fresh fish.

              1. re: Bonz

                I ate at Hook last week and had a similar experience. The food was a mix. I wasn't especially impressed with the crudo. We got the wahoo, the weakfish, and the tuna. All three were overwhelmed by strong flavored olive oil and salt, even though only one was described as having those ingredients. I would still try the crudo again, but would get different fish.

                I had the walnut encrusted weakfish entree, which was delicious. My friend had the lobster risotto, which wasn't especially flavorful and had very little lobster in it. As has been noted elsewhere, the entrees come in small portion sizes, so we had room for two desserts. Both the little donuts and the madeleines were perfect.

                The service, however, left a lot to be desired. On the plus side, everyone was very friendly, but that's the only good thing that I can say. From the moment we sat down, we would only see our server about every half hour. This includes from when we placed the drink order to when we received the drinks (simple glasses of wine) and from when we placed the crudo order and asked him to come back in 5 minutes to get our entree order. We didn't get to place the entree order until 20 minutes after we'd finished the crudo. In addition, when we were able to get someone else's attention and ask them to either find our server or, for example, bring us the drink order, those people would say ok, and then stand, looking confused, a few feet from our table, without making any attempt to solve the problem. Hopefully, these are just the growing pains of a new restaurant. Despite this, I will definitely go back to give it another try.

                I also second Bill's comment to sit downstairs. We were upstairs. It resembles a rental party space, and the bright street lights shine through the curtains into diner's eyes.

                1. re: jumpingjack

                  Went to Hook for the first time this past Saturday with three other people. We got a variety ot apps and entrees and unjoyed them all very much. (As some have pointed out, the serving sizes are somewhat smaller than at other places, but for us that is a good thing: we had room for desert and therefore were able to share a quite nice cheese place (and served at close to room temperature!. Our service was professional and friendly.

            3. Prosecco is the traditional pairing with the crudo (first course). I think it's very elegant that the table is set with flutes. If you do not order crudo and don't order prosecco, the flutes are removed and there's no pressure. I've never had the waitstaff push the prosecco on me with the second course (appetizer).

              1 Reply
              1. re: janeysmith

                I think this has changed quite a bit from when the restaurant first opened. I got the push when I was there this summer but haven't heard its as obnoxious as it once was. As you can see the original posts addressing this issue were from May, when Hook first opened.

                Prosecco push or not, Hook has given me one of the best meals I've had in DC in months. (My review is on this board somewhere) I need to get back there soon!

              2. We went on Friday and the food was excellent, however we had an 8:30 reservation (which I made about a month ago) for a party of 4 and we weren't seated until 9:40. Of course we bugged the hostess several times and each time (starting at 8:30--when we arrived!) she said it would just be another 10 minutes. While the food certainly made up for this wait, they really need to figure out the timing of their reservations if they want to keep a customer base.

                We started with the crudo. Each couple shared the shrimp, scallop, and rockfish flight. Everyone enjoyed all of them except that the scallop was served in a shell atop a mound of salt. My husband poured the scallop out of the shell and onto the salt, so all I really tasted in my bite was a mouthfull of salt!

                We then shared some appetizers...sweet potato soup (okay, my husband ordred this and gave everyone a bite, but it was delicious), grilled calamari (heavy grilled flavor and served in large pieces rather than the rings I'm used too), clam CHOWdas (deep fried dumplings of creamy clam chowder, but all I really tasted was the fried part), and risotto croquettes (tasty and not as heavily battered as the clam items).

                The two ladies had the sable fish (a.k.a. black cod). It was served with white sweet potatoes which must've been boiled and then lightly sauteed or broiled in the oven. The potatoes alone were amazing. This was also served with perfectly seasoned spinach. The fish was light and flavorful, and didn't need any kind of sauce (it was served kind of plain which scared me at first, but it really was great).
                My husband had the arctic char, which he enjoyed. The waitress described arctic char as similar to salmon but he said he didn't know the difference. (I didn't taste since I don't like salmon.) And our other friend had the tuna. It was lightly seared and he seemed to enjoy as well. I didn't even ask for a taste as I as enjoying my fish too much!

                For dessert we shared a chocolate tic tac toe dessert (let down) and the lingonberry tart, which we really adored. The cheese ice cream sounds like a weird combination but it was phenomenal.

                With dinner we got a bottle of wine. It was a Grenacha (similar to a Grenache) which the knowledgale waitress recommended as it was within our price range (under $50) and similar to their more pricey Pinot Noirs as it was a great red option (our preference) to accompany our dishes.

                To apologize for the delay in seating we were comped our two desserts and the bottle of wine, so we'll definitely return and hope that we won't experience a similar delay, but will enjoy our meal again.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KWynn

                  My wife and I ate at Hook last night, and want to share our experience.

                  We arrived at 7:00 and were promptly seated at a table by the front window facing M Street. This location quickly became a front row seat to a theatre of the absurd as hundreds of drunk 20-somethings paraded up and down the street dressed as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and reindeer.

                  My wife ordered the crab cake for her app, and I ordered a flight of crudo. The crab cake, at $12, was decent tasting, but definitely light on crab meat and heavy on the filling. We enjoyed the grapefruit preparation, but we didn't feel it was worth $12. Compare it to the huge, meaty crab cake at Boulevard Woodgrill... Anyway, my crudo was nice. They are small - literally one or two bites - but I especially enjoyed the white anchovies and the tuna roe.

                  Let me pause here and let you know that my wife is 30 and I am 33. We live in Clarendon, love good food and nice wine, and don't mind spending money on a restaurant experience. We're going to the Inn at Little Washington for our 1st anniversary. That said, we are not stupid and we don't like to waste money.

                  My wife had the wahoo for dinner and I had the Steelhead. My wife liked her wahoo OK, but my dish came out a bit cold, and I thought the saffron risotto was too salty. I also didn't sense a lot of saffron in the risotto - both by color and taste. My fish was perfectly cooked. Both dishes were overpriced at $27.

                  We finished with dessert. Our waitress, who was very nice, told us that the pastry chef had worked for Michel Richard at Citronelle, and then said "so there's a little celebrity chef for ya.". Um...OK. As we waited about 20 minutes for dessert, my wife's wine glass was taken away even though we had more wine left (a $68 bottle of Cakebread Savignon Blanc), and when the busboy only brought us spoons for dessert, the waitress explain that he couldn't speak English, and that she doesn't "hablo espanol." Anyway, we ordered the tic tac toe and the poached pear (which our waitress pushed). They brought out the chocolate soufflé and the pear, but quickly corrected the mistake after we pointed it out (wonder whose tic tac toe was late as a result of our quick correction...).

                  The tic tac toe was just OK. But being from Maine I have high whoopie pie standards. The pear was...interesting. It was poached in red wine, but served with a blue cheese cream that can only be described as strange. I have a pretty adventurous palate, but I didn't enjoy it. The waitress said that the blue cheese flavor was subtle, but I thought it was pretty strong, and I actually like blue cheese. I ate the pear and around the creme.

                  Our final bill with tax and tip was $196 or so, and I of course have to wonder how much of that it paying for the primo M Street address. When a restaurant is in a location like Hook's, either the food quality suffers or the prices are inflated. What is so disappointing is that I didn't feel like our dinner was worth nearly $200. The portions were small, and the food just OK. I also wonder how much I paid for the sustainability meme, as well as the popular press.

                  As my wife said this am: "Would I go back again? Sure, if friends really wanted to go or if there was a work event there, but I wouldn't go out of my way. I don't know what all the fuss is about."

                  Here is my guess: a chef with a decent pedigree opens a restaurant in a relatively fine dining-deprived area of the city, wraps it up in a politically responsible message, spends money on a cool decor, and attracts a trying-a-bit-too-hard-to-be-beautiful crowd. In short - it hits all of DC's erogenous zones.