Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Off The Hook is a raw bar and seafood place in the heart of Astoria, a bit off the beaten path. When we went for brunch there, we met with one of the owners, Bes, who explained to us that they opened this place two and half years ago with the idea of doing something different from the other seafood places in the area that were mainly Greek, proposing many different dishes focused on fresh seafood, whether served raw, fried, baked, etc. Opened 7 days a week, they get their seafood from the Bronx fish market, as well as from other local merchants.
What makes them stand out besides a mouth watering menu is the deals they offer, such as the $1 Blue Point oysters for Happy Hour, as well as their extensive choice of rum from all over the US, but also the world (Jamaica, Martinique...). That is where I got my first oyster shooter, made with dark rum, lime and pickle juice. It was a bit sour, but I liked it and found it fun.
But before I talk about the food, let's talk about the place. Before entering, you can definitely guess the theme of the restaurant. Then, looking inside, I though originally that it was very small, but they have a dining room in the back, as well as a small courtyard that they were able to use on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as they were proposing a special menu and so were opened.
The bar is fairly interesting because you can notice some details in the decor, such as the net hanging from the ceiling or the shelves that are made with a buoy.
There are also the swings where you can sit and eat some food at the counter.
Now, let's talk about the food. At Off The Hook, As I mentioned before, you can get raw, fried, baked, etc. For the raw bar, they have an impressive selection of oysters from all over. So, if you do not like the Blue Point, you have others from West coast to East coast. You can also go for clams or shrimp, or if you are undecided, order the platter! Although I like raw shellfish, I wanted to see how they cook dishes, so passed on the raw bar. The first dish I tried was the New England Clam Chowder, an all time favorite (sorry Manhattan Clam Chowder: I do not like you).
It was good, but not the best I had as I prefer it creamier and with less vegetables in it (there was celery, carrots and potatoes). However, the Hook's baked oysters was fantastic!
Served in an escargot dish, it was made with gruyere cheese and some rum. I liked it, especially the sauce that, similar to escargots, I could not stop eating with bread (that was deliciously toasted) and in fact, Jodi who does not like oysters was also dipping bread in the sauce...This is definitely a dish I recommend.
The third appetizer was catfish corn fritters.
The fritters were sprinkled with confectioner's sugar and came with some agave syrup, making a perfect sweet and savory dish. I should mention that in this little basket, we got couple of corn fritters with no fish that were also very good. I definitely liked the crispiness of the fritters and the fish was perfectly cooked and moist. This is a perfect dish to share.
For her entrée, as Jodi does not like seafood, she went for the croque-monsieur. This is not your traditional croque-monsieur and is one of the dishes that they reinvent. It was made of a delicious brioche bread bought locally, Canadian bacon, cheddar, pickles and topped with citrus slaw. Quite an interesting take on a classic French dish. It is in fact one of the few dishes on the menu that do not have have seafood in it (They also serve French toast for instance).
My only comment on this dish is that they probably should serve it with a side of homemade chips, because yes, they make their own chips and they are so good you cannot stop eating them.
That's right, I got chips with my dish and guess what it was: the Maine lobster roll! Rested in a succulent top cut bun that has been toasted, it is made with butter, lemon mayonnaise and spices, with lots of Maine lobster that was perfectly cooked. I definitely appreciated the fact that there was just enough mayo so it did not overpower the whole thing, leaving the lobster being the star of the dish. I should mention that it was served with a delicious slaw.
The last food item I have to describe in this post is the homemade biscuit: served hot, it was crispy and flaky: a true delight.
To go with this sublime meal, I went for a glass of wine, a 2013 Cote Mas Sud de France.
We had a nice time and a delicious meal at Off The Hook: the food there is delicious and seafood lovers will definitely appreciate. I definitely liked the atmosphere of this non pretentious restaurant that has a concept truly unique in that area. Would I go back? Probably, but this time to try their dinner!
Enjoy (I did)!
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