Friday, April 5, 2013

Dueling Reviews: Appealing Kate and Capital Katie on Hank's Oyster Bar

Appealing Kate and Capital Katie hadn't seen each other in a while and were both craving a lady date, so they made plans to meet up at Hank's Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle for a night of cocktails, girl talk and, of course, oysters! These tandem reviews were the result of their lovely evening:


I had passed Hank's Oyster Bar's Q Street location countless times during my years in D.C., yet I'd never had an opportunity to suck down the slimy sea creatures there. So when Appealing Kate suggested it as a meeting point, I jumped on it.

I think we were both shocked at how nice the place actually is. From tables outside, it appears that it would have a casual -- dare I say "beachy"? -- feel.

On second thought, probably not beachy. But definitely casual.
But once inside the restaurant, it's just as much of an upscale gastropub as Lyon Hall or Boxcar Tavern. My one criticism aesthetically is that Hank's Oyster Bar is not entirely sure what it wants to be design-wise -- it has one back room that looks like it's straight out of a K Street Lounge, and an upstairs that has a nautical feel. There's no coherence from room to room.

Hank's upstairs
Hank's back room

But at the end of the day, none of that matters if the food and service are good, right? Hank's was packed the night we went, so our server was a little overworked, but was generally attentive/kind regardless. He was brutally honest with me when I asked about a drink called "the Corpse Reviver" ("It's AWFUL," he deadpanned), which I appreciated.

I ordered the lobster roll, which Appealing Kate assured me was Maine-authentic (served on a buttered up hotdog-type bun) and which was exquisitely flavorful. We also shared oysters, which our server was helpful enough to choose for us since we knew nothing about what we were ordering in that department. I'll be the first to admit I'm not an oyster connoisseur, but they tasted alright to me.

Would I go back? In a heartbeat!


Prior to Friday, I had not seen Katie in, gasp, two months, so I was really looking forward to catching up with my good friend. When she suggested that we find a place neither of had been before, I thought Hank's Oyster Bar might be fun to try.

As we walked in, I told Katie that when I mentioned to Matt from Third Date Cooking we were going to Hank's he gave it great reviews.  Katie responded "Oh, I'm sure we will like it then. I trust Matt's opinion." And, yes, I am mentioning this so that Matt will cook me dinner this weekend.

Hank's is modern yet comfortable. Sort of "fancy Malibu ocean side restaurant meets Cape Cod seafood shack." The combo works perfectly to create a cozy, eclectic, sophisticated space.

The place was packed. Luckily, we called ahead of time to add our name to the wait list, because when we arrived the hostess told the party of four in front of us it would be a two hour wait.

Katie and I ordered drinks at the bar while we waited for our table. We both ordered the Hanky Panky (strong, refreshing and delicious). The cute bartender was attentive and flirty.

We were seated about 45 minutes later, and our server was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. We decided to split an order of oysters, because, well, we were at Hank's Oyster Bar. We tried three different varieties.  They werrreeeee tasty.

For dinner, I ordered two appetizers--- the grilled crab cake and the tuna tartar. Both were in-friggin-credible. Katie ordered the lobster roll, and let me tell you---it sure did look exactly how a Maine lobster roll should look. Well done, Hanks, well done.

crab cake appetizer
Maine lobster roll and fries
We took a mini tour of the restaurant after dinner, because it has multiple dining rooms. Each was completely unique from the others. One is modern like a NYC lounge, one beachy and simple. The third (where we sat) felt like an open and airy New England dining room.

Overall, Hank's is a great spot with delicious food and friendly staff. The atmosphere creates the perfect locale for a romantic date, a group gathering, or a Friday night dinner with a good friend.

You should go there immediately. Just remember to call ahead because Hank's does not take reservations.

Have a great weekend!


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