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Hook - an NYC hound's report

I was in DC last night and had dinner at Hook in Georgetown. I liked the idea of self-sustaining fish practices so that's where I went.

The food was absolutely terrific. I started with three crudo - the roe, the tuna, and the mackerel. The presentation on each was beautiful and each had its own personality. A lovely way to start. (If I want to be nitpicky, the tuna had two small jalepeno slices which lacked any flavor. The didnt detract, but they didnt add. A very minor complaint.)

I had the arctic char with saffron risotto. The fish was lovely, as was the risotto and other accompaniments (the oil, the pistachios). When I ordered I had to ask how the fish was prepared. I was told medium rare, as you'd expect, but it was medium the whole way through. Still loved the dish.

Dessert was gingerbread with autumn squash ice cream. Outstanding, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Service was quite odd. Lots of this:

Me: Thank you. (for refilling my water, say)
Waiter: No, thank YOU, sir!

Also, when he brought the bread, he apologized that he only had this bread (anchovy bread or something) and not the regular bread. How would I have known?

Anyway, it was a lovely meal and I'm thrilled I went.

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  1. the owners/chef wanted the concept to be "esca like". how would you compare the food/experience w/ david pasternack's store?

    2 Replies
    1. re: curious4food

      Can't really say. I ate at Esca many years ago and actually wasn't impressed with the food. It seems to be a very different restaurant now (much better, based on Chow reviews as well as NYTimes). I haven't been back, so I can't really compare.

      1. re: curious4food

        I have eaten at Esca and Hook. My GF and I both agree that Hook is the superior of the two in food and service.

      2. So glad you liked the restaurant. Hook has been the 1 new restaurant in DC which has really blown me away. The preparation seems so simple but the taste is incredible. I also had the Artic Char and loved it.

        I hope to return soon for another meal since it's so great.

        1. I've been to both Esca and Hook several times each (my two favorite restaurants in NY and DC respectively!) - but they are different. Esca is actually not a dave pasternack venture - it's one of Mario Batali's Italian restaurants that focuses on southern Italian seafood. It has crudo on the menu, but everything is Italian preparation (lobster in red sauce with pasta, calamari, whole fish etc.) -- that's what I think makes the two restaurants very different. Hook largely only serves fish filets (you will not find shellfish often) and the preparations are light and inventive. I would say modern American. The only similarity is that Hook also serves crudo - I actually like the crudo at Hook better because you can order a flight of 3 to try different fish.

          Hook totally blows me away too! I'm so glad others out there are loving it as much as me. Their new wine list is fantastic - the best in DC (outshines Proof by far)

          5 Replies
          1. re: janeysmith

            While Mario is an (the?) owner, according to Dave himself, he is not allowed to step foot in the kitchen. I love Esca. Have yet to get to Hook!

            1. re: deangold

              i remember dave receiving the accolades from the nyt 3 star review, not mario. i believe mario & bastianich are the principle owners/dave is a minority partner whose name is on the menu.

              1. re: deangold

                I had dinner at the bar at Esca about 6 months ago and the staff goes out of their way to make it VERY clear that Esca is Dave Pasternack's restuarant and NOT Mario's et al.

                I'll reserve a comparison of the two as I have only had lunch at Hook. That said, I find Esca to be absolutely wonderful.

                1. re: Pappy

                  I adore Esca... their website maintains that it was "created" by Batali, Bastianich, and Pasternack, but I heard recently that it's been bought out by another group... perhaps as much as a year ago. Any truth to that?

                  Looking forward to trying Hook soon... :)

                  1. re: chinkleDC

                    I finally got to try Hook. :) I took my partner there on New Year's Day for his birthday. We had an excellent experience. Since it's been two weeks already since the meal, I won't go into great detail, lest my memory fail me.

                    There were two crudi flights offered, so we each got a different one. They were both outstanding. Mine included sea urchin, of which I was leery because of everything I've heard about it, but this was a foamed presentation, and it wasn't bad at all. His was a flight of three kinds of trout, which we thought was inventive and delicious. For appetizers, we got boquerones (which were amazing) and the beet salad which was gorgeously plated with a swath of some unidentifiable (at this point) deliciousness. My partner had the sablefish as an entree and it was quite good -- just as other reviews have described here. I regret that I cannot at this point remember what my entree was, other than it was delicious. It got overshadowed by the Lingonberry Linzertorte with Taleggio ice cream which we had for dessert. We were surprised that we weren't full after all this, and that we wanted to continue the experience, so we ended up getting the cheese plate after dessert, which ended up being just the perfect ending to a most delightful meal.

                    The service was quite good and flexible (probably owing to the holiday). Our reservation was for 6pm, but had to shift it to 7pm and even then we were about 20 minutes late. They accommodated us without any hassle and were seated at the window in the front of the restaurant. We were glad to be there, as it appeared to be quieter than the larger dining area in the back, even though there was a table with two small children behind us. The service was very quick -- a bit too quick, in fact, so when the appetizers were brought right as we finished our last bites of the crudi, we asked them to slow down the entrees a bit. They did, perfectly, and we were able to linger over the food as we wanted. The sommelier was helpful and we chose a bottle that went very well with our appetizers and entrees. Finally, I had notified the staff in my reservation that it was for my partner's birthday. They wished him a happy birthday as we were seated, and then later for dessert the plate was decorated with a "Happy Birthday" scripted in chocolate, along with a candle. My partner was pleased with this and even moreso that they didn't attempt to sing to him. :)

                    Overall we had a great time, and look forward to going back when our schedules allow.

            2. To a provide a different perspective, I recently went for brunch on a Sunday morning -- although they do not offer as much seafood for brunch, I thought it was a great opportunity to sample how fresh and terrific Hook's food is. It is much less crowded for brunch (and I admit, I love brunch!).

              We went soon after the new year and they were offering a complimentary brunch cocktail -- mimosas or bloody mary's (they also have this bacon bloody mary that I'm intrigued by!). As with dinner, they offer a crudo -- we had the flight of three of tuna, mackerel, and I forget the other fish now. The fish was very fresh and it was a nice appetizer (although a bit small to share amongst four people).

              I had the eggs benedict that came with this amazing pork belly hash. It had a bit of a kick to it but I could have eaten another plateful of it. My other dining companions had the french toast (delish), the blue fish sandwich (he raved about it), and I believe an omelette. I definitely recommend getting the doughnuts either as a side or as your "dessert" -- you get a bowl full of little munchkin-sized doughnuts and they are fluffy and delicious!

              I was sad to find that they weren't doing RW for dinner (as that I work on the other side of town) but look forward to trying their dinner menu soon.

              1. Oh! And also, I read that they are taking over the Georgetown Bagelry, next door to Hook, and will be opening a casual seafood place. The kind of place where you can get a bowlful of fresh shrimp and peel/eat them right there. Yum.