2018-04-18 / Restaurant of the Week

Off The Hook Raw Bar & Grill

Off The Hook is the catch of a lifetime when it comes to excellent seafood, inventive dishes with some Caribbean twists, and a dazzling array of rums, cocktails, beer and wine. Best of all, it’s a cozy spot, tucked away on a quiet street in Astoria where you can settle in and relax with a cocktail, a great dinner, or weekend brunch. Off The Hook is celebrating its 5th Anniversary in May and this lovely eatery has been growing since day one. First, an outdoor patio was added to the petite restaurant for al fresco dining. Now, a new dining room has been added, transforming a former garage into a cozy, softly lit space for an intimate dinner or drinks at the bar.

Glen, the talented chef and owner, is always creating new, delectable dishes to delight you while keeping the crowd’s favorites on the menu. After all, we must have our lobster mac & cheese! Meanwhile, the expert barman mixes up exotic and classic cocktails, and rum-based drinks with their extensive selection from the “Rum Vault.” “Rum is the new bourbon,” declared my debonair companion, and indeed, Off The Hook has a vast selection of rums from all over the world, including the only rum from Thailand. Flights of rum are available in pretty snifters or mixed into a “Hook’s & Stormy” cocktail made with spiced rum and fresh ginger. My ‘Not So Old Fashioned” was perfectly balanced and garnished with an orange slice. The “Mussel Mary” is a spin on a bloody Mary that is garnished with fresh mussels, crispy bacon bits, olives and celery that must be seen to be believed.

From the raw bar come fresh oysters, little neck clams, and shrimp cocktail, served on ice or have them all on a platter to share. We started with grilled oysters topped with butter and herbs and Parmesan cheese, served with grilled slices of Italian bread to soak up the juices ($12). A new starter on the menu is the artichoke crabmeat dip with chopped kale and just the right amount of gruyere cheese so as not to overwhelm the sweet crab meat. We scooped it all up with tortilla chips and I predict this dip will become another house favorite. Glen puts a Caribbean touch on the jerk chicken wings that have just enough heat, served with mango chutney. Indulge in the lobster mac & cheese that is decadently delicious or try the new charred Caesar salad that tosses grilled romaine hearts with queso blanco, parmigiano, and lemon olive oil dressing.

For an outstanding seafood meal for two, order the Off The Hook boil, which is an impressive platter of sweet, meaty crab legs, clams, mussels, and shrimp, steamed to perfection and presented with Argentinian sausage and fluffy rice and beans. Grilled Atlantic salmon is served with chive mashed potatoes and shitake mushrooms, while the fried whole fish of the day is served with fried plantains called tostones. The catch of the day can also be blackened and served with cassava cake, green beans, and coconut basil sauce. Shrimp mofongo is a Caribbean dish made with mashed plantains, shrimp, and saffron aioli.

From the land comes Myers’ spiced chicken, a half of a free-range chicken in a tamarind brown sauce that complimented the succulent chicken. A diner nearby ordered the osso buco, which is a slowly braised natural pork shank served with cheddar grits and sautéed kale. Must come back for that one!

Off The Hook has a nice weekend brunch, and weather permitting, you can eat outside on the patio. Enjoy a glass of red or white punch, bourbon iced tea, or a pear mint sparkle while you try to decide among the warm lobster roll, a shrimp po’ boy, oyster po’ boy, or an open steak sandwich. Fluffy omelets are filled with crab meat and sausage, fried oysters, or veggies, and how does a lobster eggs Benedict sound?

House made desserts include a baked apple with vanilla ice cream, tiramisu with Amaretto butter sauce, or chocolate lava cake with raspberry sauce. For tantalizing photos, visit their website and check out their menus there too. You can even order for take out and make reservations from their site. Off the Hook is open 7 days a week for cocktails and dinner: weekdays from 4pm to 11pm, and for weekend brunch followed by dinner service. Walk, train, or bike over to Off the Hook for a drink from the Rum Vault and a memorable dining experience that will have you hooked!

28-08 34th Street, Astoria

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