Monday, March 22, 2010

Capital's Cape Cod?

Hank's Oyster Bar is quite the rare find here; it's small, unpretentious, and actually worth the long wait that one often encounters at the 30 seat original Dupont location. As the name implies the focus is on the sea, but carnivores will find one (yes, just one) daily special that originated on land.

I love this space and the food, especially in the spring. So on a beautiful Lenten Friday last week we stopped by for a 6:30 dinner. On this particular night, service was harried; only two servers covered the dining room and the 20 plus seats on the outdoor patio. They did their best, but it was not the best service we have received here.

On the other hand, the food was fantastic, and was everything fried seafood should be. My only complaint was we ordered too much! When you sit down you are immediately served goldfish--quirky, yes, but it works. The wine list, is small, but reasonably priced. And the oyster list changes each day; at $2 each, it is a great deal for what you're getting.

We started with six oysters from Washington State and Virginia paired with a California Chardonnay. I loved the subtle, salty contrast between varieties.

For entrees, we both went with fried fare, and this is where Hank's really shines. I had the Calamari and Popcorn shrimp, the latter of which was nothing like the fast food variety; both were lightly battered, fried just right, and served with a spicy aioli. And somehow the shrimp were fried without being overcooked -- a rare feat! B opted for the fried oysters and was greeted with a mound of battered, fried, salty oysters, and hand-cut fries.

And this is where we failed -- we also got clam chowder and macaroni and cheese to share. Way too much food! But B adored the combination of cheddar and smoked gouda over the macaroni. It was a bit too oily for my liking, but it did have a rich depth of flavor.

Go early on a weekend night with a small party to avoid an ungodly wait.

Dinner for two with a bottle of Chardonnay, tax, and tip was $115.

Hank's Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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