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BEST seafood in DC & nice atmosphere

OK hounds...where is the best 'high end' seafood in the city? A place that has wonderful, fresh, inventive seafood dishes, a nice atmosphere where people dress for dinner and really great service? And a great wine list. Price not an issue. And please describe what to order at your fave. thanks!

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  1. My favorite is Hook, I love the food, the open kitchen. I love their black risotto the squid is cooked perfectly and the risotto with the salty ink takes me back to Barcelona. I have had a couple fish dishes, but they change so often they probably won't be there.

    Although from your description you may like Kinkead's better it is more oldschool upsale, not as hip and trendy.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      thanks. i may just have to try both! i see alot about Hook and Hank's on here. What is the atmosphere like at Hook? would you compare it to, say Proof? Or Beck?
      thx

      1. re: DCDOLL

        It is probably kind of like a little bit like Central mixed with Zaytinya back when it was hip (I know you hate Central). But very hip with a modern feel inside, when I have been mostly 20-30 somethings, but it is quieter than Beck as the bar isn't as large and the dining room is set back. I haven't ever sat upstairs I have sat downstairs either by the kitchen or facing the kitchen. It can be loud on the weekend though. But the food really is good, just simple well prepared which is what reminds me of Central. It is one of the few places which I think is worth the price tag.

        1. re: ktmoomau

          Well Tom says it's VERY noisy... be forewarned.

            1. re: Joe H

              Dinner for three on Saturday night. Arrived early for our 6:30PM reservation, and were led to a booth (requested) down the hallwayish area to the upper right of the main dining room. An area devoid of decor.

              Starters were very fantastic. Fried Whole Belly Clams ($17) were a generous portion with an excellent home-made tartar sauce. Virginia and Massachusettes Oysters ($2.70 each) on the half-shell were perfectly fresh, cold, clean, firn and delicious. Mussels in a Thai Curry Coconut Sauce where cooked just right, plump, and tasty.

              Mains included a nice Plain Grilled Salmon with Home Made French Fries. The salmon was good, and the fries would have been perfect. They were freshly cut, skin on, fried until golden and crisp, then clearly left on the counter to become tepid and soggy. Seared Tuna ($38?) was a nice piece of fish, but the red wine reduction sauce was over-reduced and the white beans were a mushy mass. Sea Scallops in Clam Broth/Sauce ($36?) was good, but I tasted very little of it. Wife commented that there were only three scallops, but when challenged, admitted she could barely eat the third. I thought every dish was oversalted, and that's from a salt lover, and I've come to expect it.

              Service was not at all the polished professionalism I recall. Our waiter seemed a little hurried, or harried, or both. Runners (too) efficiently brought the food and cleared the plates, without a word, and without the waiters assistance or comment. Appetizers came within 2 - 3 minutes of ordering. And our waiter tried toquickly open a 2006 Albarino which was listed as a 2005 on the wine list without mentioning the discrepancy before I noticed it. And while I really don't care about the vintage of a $50 bottle of white wine, it would have been nice if he didn't think I was too dumb to notice.

              1. re: Pappy

                Pappy, are you reporting on Kinkead's or Hook? i wasn't sure. thanks.

      2. re: ktmoomau

        Ditto on Hook. I was just so impressed by my entire meal there. The crudo was something different and fun to start off with and then the entrees seemed to keep the "dignity" of the fish---meaning it wasn't overdone with sauces and creams. The fish is prepared quite simply but in a delicious manner and the sides that accompany them blend in well without overpowering the dish. My bf's blue fish was delicious. I think I got Artic Char and loved it.

        I haven't been to Kinkead's in years but when I went for my birthday (close to 4 years ago now) I found the dishes to be good and the place/service to be classy.

        I do want to try Black' Salt but its so out of the way I highly doubt I'll be getting there soon.

        I'm also a fan of Hank's but it doesn't seem to fit your description.

      3. Black Salt Tasting Room, Hook, Black Salt regular dining room. The tasting room is quiet; the other two are quite noisy and crowded. I also like Hank's Oyster bar; no reservations, quite casual, crowded, noisy; not in the same class as the other three but good food. Finally, Pesce in Dupont Circle is always enjoyable for me. I wouldn't bother with anywhere else, including Kinkead's which is living on past reputation.

        1. We had dinner at D'Aqua for Valentine's Day and enjoyed it very much. It does not have the atmosphere of Kinkead's in terms of quiet and formal but the food and wine are very good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ksalno

            I've eaten there too buts underwhelmed. I put it in the same category as Sea Catch, Oceanaire, McCormick & Schmicks, Market Inn, Legal Seafood, Johnny's Half Shell [used to good in Dupont Circle] and host of other "ok but nothing special" safood restaurants.

          2. Hook or Black salt would be my suggestions. Also have always had a very good piece of fish at Kinkeads, though not really inventive per se. Pesce in Dupont Circle is always excellent, though not really the atmosphere you are looking for.

            1. In my personal order of preference:

              1. Hook
              2. Blacksalt (haven't been to tasting room but main dining room is good)
              3. Oceanaire
              4. Kinkead's