2015-07-08 / Restaurant of the Week

OFF THE HOOK

Off the Hook recently celebrated its 2-year anniversary serving outrageously fresh and delicious oysters and raw bar, seafood, steak, and much more to an appreciative clientele. Caribbean music played as the celebration went on and drinks flowed from the bar into the petite dining room and outdoor garden. The dynamic duo of Bes and Glen run the whole show, from the kitchen to the front of the house, to the newly made herb planters in the garden, constructed by hand from reclaimed wood. Colorful, abstract artwork by Glen and local artist Kimberly adorn the walls, along with some nautical touches. The overall feeling is hip, relaxed and fun, and Off the Hook has expanded its weekend Brunch menu, with many exciting new items and your old favorites too

Come as you are in jeans or shorts and catch the wave while you sip on Off the Hook’s famous “cocktails from the kitchen.” The skilled barman mixes up signature cocktails made with the finest quality spirits, including aged rum and bourbons, and Glen’s own fresh fruit purees infused with herbs from the garden. One of the house favorite concoctions is called the Pirate’s Pepper Punch made with Jack Daniels bourbon, fruit infusion and jalapeno pepper. The Sweet Action is made with Maker’s Mark, DiSaronno, passion fruit, hibiscus and lemon. Hook’s and Stormy is made with fresh ginger reduction and aged, spiced rum. We tried some new brunch cocktails, with fruit and herb reductions, and a splash of Prosecco that were just delicious. There are plenty of craft beers on offer and good wines too. There are two nightly Happy Hours to take advantage of: one from 3pm to 6pm Monday to Thursday and again from 10pm to closing. Both offer $1 Blue Point oysters, $1 Little Neck clams, and $4 select beers and wine so come stop in!

I’m already a huge fan of Off the Hook’s dinner menu, so this time we came to check out the newly expanded Brunch Menu, offered Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Bes and Glen debuted the new smoked salmon sandwich, made on warm pumpernickel bread spread with artichoke cream cheese, then layered with quality smoked salmon, red onion and capers. The sweet fig jam made the perfect complement to the savory ingredients and we polished it off in short order. Next we were dazzled with the unique flavors and textures of the fried oyster omelet. Glen whips up a very light, fluffy omelet laced with tender, crunchy fried oysters. The melted gruyere cheese sauce on top provides a creamy counterpoint to the crunchy oysters. This dish was surprisingly light and satisfying, served with a side salad. A decadently delicious Lobster Benedict turns this standard brunch item into something very special. Perfectly poached eggs rest on a bed of sweet lobster meat and a toasted bun, topped with classic Hollandaise sauce, served with home fries ($17). You can also order traditional Eggs Benedict or Florentine with spinach. Classic French toast is served with caramelized apples ($12) and their tender skirt steak is served with two eggs and mixed greens for a hearty brunch. Shrimp and grits is a special that shows up quite often and has a wonderfully creamy texture and lots of plump shrimp with special seasonings. Brunch sandwiches include a world class Maine lobster roll with butter-lemon mayo that screams of summer, especially with the homemade potato chips that accompany it. The Pollock BLT is breaded, flaky Pollock filet piled on pumpernickel bread with crispy pancetta and homemade cole slaw ($11). The crab cake burger is another must have for its sweet crabmeat on a brioche bun with spicy remoulade sauce. We had to have a side order of Off the Hook’s addictive Mac and cheese, made with a secret blend of cheeses, served in a cast iron skillet. Even Brunch has a Happy Hour, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm with $1 raw bar and $4 Bloody Marys and Mimosas.

If you’re not familiar with Off the Hook’s dinner menu, this is what you’ve been missing: Prince Edward Island mussels swimming in lobster broth, white wine and rosemary, New England clam chowder, and my favorite, grilled oysters with butter, herbs and Parmigiano ($11). Tantalizing entrees include grilled Atlantic salmon with shitake mushrooms and chive-mashed potatoes ($21). Maine lobster is broiled and served with fingerling potatoes and vegetables, while the shrimp Mofongo, a Latino dish, is made with mashed plantains, shrimp, and spices. From the land comes juicy skirt steak, cooked to order and served with truffled potato skins and grilled baby asparagus ($19). Slow-braised pork shoulder is served over polenta cakes with sautéed kale and fig balsamic reduction. Myer’s spiced chicken is marinated in Myer’s rum and jerk seasoning for a Caribbean treat. The crunchy ‘fish and chips’ goes well with an ice cold beer.

All of these amazing dishes come out of the tiny kitchen and are served hot and beautifully presented by the friendly, attentive staff that includes Wesley and Tim. I always look forward to a meal at Off the Hook, whether it’s for the raw bar and a cocktail, dinner with friends, or relaxed weekend brunch outside. Don’t forget their Happy Hours, new Brunch items and “cocktails from the kitchen.” Off the Hook is on for Brunch so visit soon!

28-08 34th Street • Astoria, NY
718.721.2112

www.offthehookastoria.com Follow them on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter

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