If the humidity outside didn’t tip you off, summer is in full swing in the District. Between beach trips, cocktail party-hopping, and food festivals, it’s rare we get a day off. So when Hank’s Oyster Bar invited us over for brunch, we were more than happy to have an excuse to unwind. Cori Sue and I were joined at their Pennsylvania Ave. outpost by our favorite menswear blogger Dean, the brains and looks behind Proper Kid Problems.
After a long weekend of booze and bacon, the three of us enjoyed a lazy late brunch chatting fashion, blogging, and the latest Washington gossip. The only way to combat my raging hangover was to retox, so we perused the enticing drink menu. Cori Sue stuck with the classic mimosa, and Dean appropriately chose The Italian Gentleman, a refreshing gin-based grapefruit and mint cocktail. Hank’s was one of the restaurants that named a birthday cocktail after us for our Bitches Turns 5 celebration, so naturally I had to sample the “Bitches Who Drink.” Don’t let the vodka, beer, and raspberry lemonade mix scare you— this cocktail was the perfect combination of sweet and tart.
Like all meals at Hank’s, our brunch began with an adorable tiny dish of Goldfish. But the real surprise of the day was the boozy cereals. We sampled Cheerios with an amaretto, honey, Scotch, and milk mixture, as well as Cinnamon Toast Crunch with rumchata, butter rum, maple, and milk. I’ve always said that rumchata tastes just like cinnamon toast, so I was happy to see somebody finally adulting up my favorite breakfast cereal. We agreed that the Cheerios mixture wasn’t that good, but it was fun to try. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch, on the other hand, was the perfect treat for booze hounds who want to reminisce about childhood. Unfortunately, the boozy cereals seemed a little out of place as our seafood appetizers arrived soon thereafter.
We started with a dozen oysters on the half-shell. I’m embarrassed to admit that despite my New England roots, I’m not a big fan of oysters. But Cori Sue and Dean slurped them down like pros. I made up for it by devouring a batch of fried Ipswich clams, named for the town I grew up next to in Massachusetts. They were perfectly crispy and lightly salted.
We were so caught up in gabbing about our personal styles we nearly forgot to order our main courses. We put a pause in our conversation to deliberate over the seafood options on Chef Jamie Leeds’ menu. Dean and I went halvesies on the shrimp po’boy and the lobster roll. The lobster roll was light and refreshing, with a ratio of lobster to “other” that would make my mother proud.
The shrimp were lightly fried and covered with a delicious sauce. I would definitely order both again. Both of our dishes came with thin, crispy fries with Old Bay seasoning, which Cori Sue loved. And by that I mean the Bitch kept stealing my French fries.
CS opted for the shrimp and grits, which was fantastic. It was really well done, which you would hope for from a seafood restaurant. With a tomato based coulis, the dish packed a lot of great flavor.
We also sampled the crab cake Benedict with breakfast potatoes, a soft shell crab and crab cakes smothered in gravy. The crab cakes were almost a little too flavorful for my taste, but the Hollandaise sauce on top of the benny helped the cut the sharpness of the red pepper and Old Bay.
In terms of sides, the breakfast potatoes were delicious and our communal bowl of fresh fruit did not include the egregiously offensive honeydew melon. If you want to see us get really Bitchy, just serve us honeydew melon.
We were so stuffed and falling into a food coma that we could barely bring ourselves to taste the soft shell crab. But, we mustered the strength to carry on and enjoyed the fresh crab meat.
Speaking of crabs, we were all a tad bit intimidated by the beautiful, fully fried soft shell crab. It was just so…whole. We gave it a go, and it was delicious. You can’t be a local seafood restaurant without serving up local softshell crab.
To top it all off, we split a refreshing slice of key lime pie, which Florida girl and key lime fanatic Cori Sue gave two thumbs up. The pie comes from Pie Sisters, and it is absolutely delicious.
The Bitches say: A+. The sweetness of the boozy cereal was a weird pairing but overall we loved the seafood spread for a refreshing summer brunch.
Hank’s Oyster Bar
633 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E.
Hank’s on the Hill serves brunch on Sundays.