After counting 173 lemmings standing out in line to get into Georgetown Cupcake at 8 PM on a Saturday night, I walked down M Street and ducked into Hook.
I started mild, food-wise, and went with a Longboard Island Lager ($6) from the Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii (Hook’s wine by the glass prices are simply too high, so I decided to stick with beer).
In this day and age, it’s something of a luxury to get a bread basket, much less a decent one, and Hook’s is quite decent – fascinating little caraway (?) gougÃ¨res accompany small pieces of focaccia, and are served with (needlessly, in my mind) paprika-topped butter.
From the Crudo section of the menu (Hook has always had good, interesting crudo), three canapes ofÂ Arctic Char ($8) which came whipped in a mousse, sitting atop a slice of beet with an almost undetectable touch of balsamic, and topped with what seemed like a thin sliver of dried beet but I’m not quite sure. This was had alongside an excellent Rockfish Ceviche ($9), mixed with coconut milk, lime, jalapeÃ±o, and red onion, all stuffed inside crispy “crab chips” – this was also served as three items, best picked up with your hands. A very good combination of flavors and textures with these two dishes – I’d happily order both again.
For the next courses, I switched to a Fire Rock Pale Ale ($6), also from Kona Brewing Company, knowing I was transitioning from lighter to fuller bodied dishes.
Curried Cauliflower Bisque ($10) with blue crab and lemon oil sounded so good I couldn’t resist it, and it almost was; all it needed was a pinch of salt to wake it up, and it would have been perfect (there wasn’t any salt nearby, so I just enjoyed it for what it was).
The only miss of the night was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($16) served atop watercress, and surrounded with rings of Â brown butter and spiced mango coulis and green apples. Although this sounded good on paper, it missed in practice, and I don’t think better execution could have saved it. The crab cake surely had some type of non-lump filler whether it was bread, mayonnaise, claw meat, or some unknown combination, and was moist to a fault. This moistness – whatever it was (it may indeed have had a small amount of mayo) – clashed with the mango and the brown butter, and it was just a failed combination of flavors. I rarely say a dish needs to come off the menu, but this one does.
Crab cake aside, this was a very good dinner at Hook, accentuated with excellent service at the bar, and a vibrant customer base. People talk of chef turnover at Hook, but the truth is that I’ve only had one bad meal here in my life (and I’ve been here many times in the past).