2014-01-22 / Restaurant of the Week

Off The Hook

"Off the Hook" is Astoria's newest Raw Bar and Seafood restaurant, opened just six months ago. Off the Hook is slightly off the beaten path but definitely on my radar and you should put it on yours too. Owners Bes and Glenn, who is also the executive chef, wanted to offer a unique, raw bar experience right here in Astoria, where only the freshest seafood is purchased and served in inventive ways.

Think surf-side seafood shack without the sand and you've got Off the Hook. The petite dining room has just a precious few tables and a cool swing to pass the time....yes a swing! Everything has been carefully designed and built by Bes and Glenn with a hip, eclectic theme that includes textured walls, tile floors and handmade artwork. In warm weather, the outdoor patio will open for al fresco dining in a casual setting.

Come and relax for Happy Hour in this 'come as you are' spot where the barman mixes up fabulous "Off the Hook" cocktails that are made with chef Glenn's own infused fresh fruit and herb mixers. Those, combined with fine spirits create one of the house favorite concoctions called the Pirate's Pepper Punch made with Jack Daniels bourbon, fruit infusion and jalapeno pepper. The Sweet Action will get you going with Maker's Mark, DiSaronno, passion fruit, hibiscus and lemon. These cocktails or the fine craft beers on offer, both local and imported, pair very well with the fine selection of oysters available at market.

My companion and I polished off a plate of Blue Point Oysters (just $1.50 each at Happy Hour and $1 on Mondays!) and savored their briny freshness. Chef Glenn presented us with grilled oysters topped with herbs, butter and Parmigiano, creating a nice juxtaposition of earth and sea ($11). Next, fried clam strips brought back memories of summers at the beach, feasting on these crispy sweet clams and homemade tartar sauce. Fresh from the sea Little Neck Clams are served in a cast iron pot, steamed with a sublime sauce of Pernod and a touch of cream. You'll soak up every drop with the grilled bread served with this dish ($11). Oyster crostini are tender, fried oysters on crunchy toasted ciabatta bread with a wonderful sauce. An appetizer of lobster mac and cheese is a decadent treat that you deserve after an hour on the Stairmaster. The combination of tender macaroni, cheeses, bacon and sweet lobster is irresistible. All the appetizers on the menu are ideal for sharing and the friendly staff will help you with your choices, should you need it.

Moving on to main courses, the grilled Atlantic salmon is topped with creamy leeks, artisanal bleu cheese, and white truffle oil ($19). Maine lobster is broiled and served with fingerling potatoes and vegetables, while the shrimp Mofongo, a Latino dish, is made with mashed plantains and spices. So, what to do if you’re the one friend that doesn't like fish or seafood? What if you're allergic to it? You can then order the juicy skirt steak, cooked to order and served with chimmichurri sauce and grilled baby asparagus ($19). This meat was so tender and juicy, served sliced and beautifully presented on a gleaming white plate. You can also order this wonderful steak in a sandwich variation. Tender grilled quails are served with couscous, dates and green peas, and the pork belly is slowly braised, then served with polenta and sauteed spinach.

Tempting sandwiches are served for dinner or during their popular weekend brunch which takes place on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00am to 3:30pm. Do I really have to explain how good the Maine lobster roll tastes on a grilled roll with lemon-mayo, house made potato chips and cole slaw? I don't think so. The Crabby Patty is a sweet crabmeat burger on a brioche bun that pairs well with a cold beer on a weekend afternoon.

Every night there are specials to enjoy with friends after work or with that special someone. Monday: $1 Blue Point oysters; Tuesday: $1 Little Neck Clams; Wednesday: all you can eat mussels for $15 and Sunday's buy one dozen oysters and get one dozen free, making this the perfect hangover cure!

Off the Hook is open seven days a week for weeknight Happy Hour and dinner from 4:30pm to 11:00pm (until 12:00am on Friday and Saturday nights) then weekend brunch from 11:00am to 3:30pm. I am 'hooked' on Off the Hook and you will be too! Visit soon and get a taste of the sea at this hip, friendly, neighborhood spot.

28-08 34th Street  Astoria, NY
718.721.2112

www.offthehookastoria.com

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