I’ve always loved casual seafood eateries. As long as they can satisfy three of my dietary needs: fresh raw seafood, ice cold bitter craft beer, and a warm hearty soup or stew to finish. The first two proves that you know how to run an efficient business, the third shows whether a chef can successfully execute a classic.
With this simple checklist in mind, I was eager to visit Bait & Hook. This is one ambitious opening for a seafood shack, taking over the price space on 14th Street and 2nd Avenue, which last housed the short lived Meatball Factory. With a near endless stream of foot-traffic from folks from Stuy Town heading west, there’re no excuses for not succeeding. (which begs the question, what happened to the Meatball Factory?)
The newly renovated space is simple, dominated by the bar front and center, TV’s hanging above the bar, and your requisite chalkboard with the beer menu and specials. Curiously while most seats have a view at the bar, many seats are blocked by building columns from seeing the chalkboard. Ordering beer should not be this difficult.
As far as the food goes, the menu presents pretty standard north eastern seafood fare. Chowders are flavorful, though slightly predictable. Oysters are currently limited to just one choice per day, and at $2.50 quite pricey for a casual seafood spot. Comparing this to my regular oyster spots, if they want my repeat business they’ll need to increase the selection or drop the price.
Fish tacos have become a NY favorite in recent years – the casual restaurant’s version of the omnipresent tuna tartare. The mash-up of textures and flavors is always a crowd pleaser, and certain did not disappoint.
What’s a review of a seafood restaurant without a lobster roll? The roll at Bait and Hook is very competent, and sized quite generously for its $23 price tag. It’s probably not going to shake up the existing lobster roll rankings, but it’s certainly worth a mention next time someone does a round-up review.
Bait and Hook is a good seafood restaurant, with just a few quirks and shortcomings keeping it from competing with the mainstays like Mermaid or Fish. With all the seafood restaurants that’s opened in the last 5 years, the bar’s been set very high for oyster selection, beer choices, and the headline grabbing lobster rolls. In other words, Bait and Hook needs something to keep me coming back, and they could start with oysters.
What does this rating mean?
From the Notebook: The meal was complementary, though this did not affect my opinions, nor was I required to write. If anyone knows why Meatball Factory shuttered, please drop me a comment below.
Bait & Hook
251 E 14th St
New York, NY 10003