I was in Washington D.C. this weekend for a baby shower, and promptly informed my friend Emilie that I would be staying with her, and that we would be going out for a lovely meal, no excuses.
Because I am a fiend for oysters, we decided to try Hank's Oyster Bar, in Dupont -- an adorable, airy little spot on Q Street known for its lobster roll. We arrived a little before 8:00 p.m. on Saturday night and were promptly seated, lucky because Hank's doesn't accept reservations and the restaurant soon filled up with local hipsters.
I started with six oysters and a glass of Viognier -- I wish I could remember the three varieties of oyster I tasted, but all I can recall is that there were 2 west coast varieties and one Massachusetts variety -- I think one of the west coast was Emerald Cove but I can't remember the others. My favorites were the small, briny Washington state oysters, but all were delicious. Emilie started with the lobster bisque, which was extremely rich, with judicious chunks of lobster meat in it.
I couldn't resist trying the lobster roll (although the soft shell crabs were calling my name) for my entree -- the lobster itself was excellent. The meat was tender, and the lobster salad was tangy with onion and celery, and not at all laden with mayo (it might have had some vinegar in it, actually - I liked the 'bite' it had very much). The roll, though, was a little bland and bready, barely toasted, and the fries served with it were wilted and soggy. I have no complaints about the lobster, which is certainly the main feature, but the entire dish was not particularly impressive. I noted on Hanks' website that the lobster roll is paired with coleslaw for the brunch menu, and I would have much preferred coleslaw to soggy fries. I accompanied the entree with a glass of South African Sauvignon Blanc, which was lovely but perhaps a little too light for the rich lobster -- I preferred the Viognier.
Emilie had the scallop entree -- 5 seared sea scallops over a corn and bacon relish. She said it was very good, but that she would probably order differently if she were to return -- I think we both felt like we might have missed out on some of the more enjoyable dishes ( i.e., the fried stuff!).
We both said it was a restaurant to which we'd return, but we also both felt that the pace of the meal was off -- our server was friendly, but Emilie's bisque arrived immediately after we ordered (before my wine, even), and well before my raw bar appetizer was served. Our entrees immediately followed the appetizers -- and while I've had issues with lags in service before, this felt a little too quick. We weren't rushed, exactly, but the pace made the overall experience feel a little too cafeteria-like for me. The room itself is cute -- casual, but fun and boisterous. We were given a little dish of goldfish crackers upon being seated, which was an adorable touch, and (strangely) our bill came with a bowl of chocolate -- literally chunks of dark chocolate.
I liked Hank's quite a bit, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to return.
Hanks is located at 1624 Q St. NW, near 17th Street. Hanks accepts all major credit cards.