It took us way too long to finally make our way to HANK's OYSTER BAR (Q & 17th Sts, NW -www.hanksdc.com) but we made it to Jamie Leed's den of fried seafood last night and it was, for the most part, a treat. The noise level is a bit too high for my tastes, so much so that we had to ask the server to repeat things thrice at times. There is nothing to absorb the noise and perhaps that's what some folks like about a neighborhood spot, but I still like my reasonably quiet dining spots.
There were fun touches, such as the little goldfish on the table (the crackers, that is), nice linen napkins and excellent service. The wine list is mostly in the $30-something range and we started with an excellent HUBER GRUNER VELTLINER 2005 which aches of citrus and works great with the raw bar items. The selection of raw oysters is great and we chose all Washington State: OTTER COVE, GOLD CREEK (we skipped Dabob Bay), and adored the CALM COVE with its plumpness and the tiny QUILCENE with its salty briny flavor.
Next came a yummy cone of POPCORN SHRIMP and CALAMARI with a to-die- for dipping remoulade.
The appetizers were at all levels from a magnificent GRIDDLED CRABCAKE to a very unexciting SEAFOOD CEVICHE consisting of shrimp, calamari and scallop in LIME & JALAPENO. I asked why it tasted funny and our server said that the shrimp and calamari is steamed first, which I have never heard of. Even so, it was spicy, but unexciting.
The entrees fares much better with an amazing LOBSTER ROLL stuffed with chunks and chunks of shellfish and a nice mild simple mayo-based sauce (I would have preferred that remoulade!!) served with nice OLD BAY FRIES. The FRIED OYSTER DINNER is a highlight with plump BLUE POINT (MD) oysters in a tasty coating served again with the fries and a yummy COLE SLAW (not creamy, but not too vinegary either). They come with tartar sauce, but I opted for more of the remoulade and was even happier. Our second wine was a HERON CHARDONNAY 2005 from California that is basic and buttery and again works well with the shellfish.
Dessert is not an option at Hank's as they say the kitchen is too small, but instead a generous bowl of German (dark, but not bitter at all) Chocolate chunks comes out which is a great treat and makes everyone happy before they head home quite full.
I do have to add I thought it odd that the check came with a "Lockheed Martin" pen to fill out the charge slips? Oh well. I would gladly return to Hanks, avoid the ceviche and next time try some of the yummy sounding fish entrees as well!