Hooked – Northern Virginia Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants

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Tinsley’s Take

Hooked - ReviewedI was really excited to see Sterling, VA represented on Northern Virginia Magazine’s top 50 restaurants list. The Eastern Loudoun County area is flooded with boring, run of the mill chain restaurants and Hooked was something that the area desperately needed. Unfortunately, I found myself scratching my head on how Hooked made it as number 42 on such a prestigious list. Saying that I had a terrible experience is a compliant, because I would NEVER step foot in that restaurant again. Why? Well, I had the pleasure of waking up to food poisoning in the middle of the night.

Let me start with the good (the only good) - the décor. As you walk up to the entrance you are welcomed by a wooden bridge and the sounds of a babbling brook. Inside, the atmosphere was exciting with a retro submarine feel. I absolutely loved their bold use of red and black through out the dining area and bar.

Let me explain the bad - the food. I started with the miso soup, which was beautiful. Normally, I find myself licking the bowl clean when I order this type of soup. This time however, I barely touched it because it was lukewarm and bland. I was eager to try their shellfish clay pot because I loved the lobster clay pot from Passion Fish (who is also on the top 50 list). This clay pot left a lot to be desired. The scallops and shrimp were over-cooked, the broth was super spicy and overly sweet. I had to spoon out the veggies and shellfish and blot off the broth in order to eat it. Hooked definitely needs to take a couple of lessons from the chefs at Passion Fish; they know how to make a rock star clay pot.

Let me finish with the worst - food poisoning. After spending that entire day running to the bathroom, I decided to give the restaurant a call. Can you believe that the manager wouldn’t even talk to me? He apparently was very busy prepping for dinner service and couldn’t possibly be bothered. I think it would have been important for him to take my call - what if there was a contamination issue? He finally returned my call 3 days later, but Jason won’t let me take the call. We were promised ‘a little something in the mail’, which never arrived. Even if I had received this ‘little something’, I’d thrown it away.

After all of this, Hooked is lucky that I am even giving them a 0.5 star rating. What a waste of $100. I hope they aren’t on Northern Virginia Magazine’s list for 2013.

Jason’s Judgement

When Hooked first came to the Sterling area, it was located in the strip mall adjacent to Food Lion. I can remember giving them a try way back then after the Washington Post proclaimed they served the best crab cake ever. I was astonished when the crab cake was lackluster at best. A few years passed before Hooked moved to their current location across town. Their new facility is larger and much nicer. After they had made their move across route 7, I gave them another try and crab cake was my selection. Surely, they had to be better. Nope – I was served a gloopy pile of somewhat cooked crab and bread filling. Hmm.. two strikes.

After two bad experiences, I had decided to give up on Hooked. When Tinsley and I decided to eat our way through Northern Virginia Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants list, I was surprised to see Hooked had made the cut. Despite my reservations, I thought to myself that Hooked must have had a big turn around to be featured on such an esteemed list. And I went back to Hooked for a third time with an open mind.

So was the third time a charm? No way!

Unlike Tinsley, I found the interior decorating bland, boring and dated. And the food? Let’s start with my appetizer, which was the seafood tempura. I love tempura seafood and vegetables and order it each time we’re at our favorite sushi restaurant (Sushi Yoshi in Vienna). What I was served was an extremely greasy plate of fried food. After 2, maybe 3 pieces, I had to stop eating as the grease was just sitting in my stomach.

I decided to give their crab cakes another go. Again, third times a charm? Well, not exactly. I admit that out of the three visits, this time the crab cakes were the best. They had the proper blend of crab and filler and weren’t too wet or too dry. However, there was too much citrus and the mustard ended up being a honey mustard, which was entirely too sweet for me. Crab is already a sweater meat, which is why crab cakes are often served with a mustard sauce – it helps cut the sweatness. For me, I could only get one of the two crab cakes down.

Saying we were disappointed with Hooked is an understatement. I too felt like it was a waste of time and money and still can’t believe they made the top 50 list. And I feel so bad for my lovely wife who endured two days of horrible torture on top of everything. To each their own, but I won’t return to Hooked.

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