Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sustainable seafood at Hook in DC

I had the great privilege of enjoying dinner at the sustainable seafood restaurant Hook in Washington DC tonight, during Capitol Hill Oceans Week. My dining partner was Sam Fromartz, author of Organic, Inc. and friend of chef Barton Seaver.

OK, this was tough duty but somebody had to do it. Hook is a great place to spend some time, and the staff were friendly and extremely knowledgable about the seafood on the menu. The first remarkable thing I noticed was that everything on the menu was sustainable. There was not a single doubtful fish or shellfish. That's a tremendous achievment, and a credit to chef Seaver's hard work.

But most importantly, the food was wonderful. The crudo were fabulous, and Sam and I went all out and sampled every one of the 8 items. My favorite was the rainbow trout roe and Sam loved the ivory king salmon. I had the blackfin tuna entree, which was as good as tuna gets, and Sam had the most perfectly cooked sablefish which was amazing. Sablefish (aka black cod) are the favorite fish of some northwest seafood fans, and Seaver's was perfectly cooked thanks to his secret, a 100% humidity 150 degree F oven. It was also nice for me as a fish person to see the fish called by it's real name and not the more popular "market name" of blackcod. The salads and deserts were also very nice. Chef Seaver was generous with his time visiting with us as his restaurant filled to capacity with people having a great time. The wines recommended by the staff were also the perfect complement to the great seafood.

Chef Joshua Whigham graciously stopped by the table to chat also, and described his fishing trip in Tobago where he helped land some blackfin tuna and got a little white-knuckled fishing from a small boat while learning how their fish got from ocean to table.

Eating at Hook is a terrific experience that shows the world that sustainability can be fun and delicious. I recommend Hook to one and all as the place to go for seafood when you're in DC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While Hook has more of a New York City atmosphere than most DC restaurants, which tend to feel like chains, it does not achieve the level I would have expected. Within seconds of sitting down, you are bombarded by an overzealous waiter who wants to explain every minute detail of the menu. While I can appreciate the need to understand what is being served, Hooks method of informing is overwhelming and a put off. Rather than explain everything on the menu, let the client ask the questions. YES, we know you offer only sustainable food. We get it; you’ve written it and said it a million times, now move on. The Crudo (Smoked Salmon, Tuna Tartar, Barracuda), Appetizers (Beet Salad, Grilled Calamari), Entrees (Clam & Linguini, Sablefish), and desert (Nutella surprise, Pineapple Carpaccio) were all very well done and delicious, however the Sablefish was cold after 30 seconds, the Linguini slightly over cooked, and the Crudo is a tribute to Nouvelle Cuisine portion size, a trend that should have died long ago. These were not a big deal, but still. The Calamari was the best I’ve tasted in DC.

My issue is not so much with the food, as with the service and over all attitudes of those working at Hook. I wonder if it will be the same in a year, after all the hype has died down. As for price, nothing is overly expensive, however it does add up very quickly. My one advice to save money is avoid the prosecco offered with the Crudo. It’s not very good, and at $9 a glass, you’re better off ordering a good bottle of wine up front. Hook is probably the best place in DC to get fish that no one else offers, however, all around, there are better places to go. I was surprised when the Post only gave it a review of two and a half stars. Now I feel that is appropriate, if not a half star too much.