Friday, September 6, 2013

It's here!!!  The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association's
Local foodees know that this 12 day event occurs twice yearly...once in the fall and once in the winter.  The current event runs from Sept.4th to Sept.15th, with over 100 local restaurants participating.
I usually visit 3 restaurants each Restaurant Week, creating my own theme each time.  This week's theme for the Charleston E.Diner is "Restaurants that I haven't visited in the last 5 years".  Those choices are Hank's Seafood Restaurant, Tristan's and Cypress.  (Past themes have been New Restaurants, Favorite Restaurants and Award Winning Restaurants.)  Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I only review restaurants that I LOVE.   If the food is not good, the restaurant is not mentioned.  But, since I've already mentioned the three restaurants I'm eating at this week, there is the possibility of a critical comment or two!   This three part series begins with Hank's Seafood.

     We arrived 45 minutes early for our reservation at Hank's Seafood, planning to have a drink at their bar before being seated.  Not only did the friendly hostess peruse her schedule and offer to seat us immediately, but she quickly rearranged her seating chart to accommodate my mobility/disabiliy issues by giving us seating at a very comfy booth (rather than ladder-back chairs at the other dining tables).
     The dining room is large, with a high ceiling but, due to discreet sound panels above, the room is not noisy at all.  We could easily converse in hushed tones without repeating ourselves and could not overhear the conversations at nearby tables (ok, that may not be as interesting, but it did make for a more peaceful meal!)
     Hank's offers 3 Courses for $40.00 per person during Restaurant Week, as well as their regular menu.  We chose from the Restaurant Week menu.  Our first course choices were She Crab Soup and the House Salad....I'd skip the house salad next time.  It was just mixed greens, and although the portion was large, it was slightly boring.  The She Crab Soup, on the other hand, was fabulous; rich, creamy and just enough sherry to be tasty, but not overpowering.
     Our second courses were the Grilled Swordfish and the Shellfish Pasta.  The pasta dish was loaded with scallops, mussels in the shell and shrimp, tails on.   Served over linguine, in a lemon saffron sauce prepared with liquids from the shellfish preparation, the result was a light, clean taste, with a hint of white wine.  It was quite delicious, if a bit salty.
     The Grilled Swordfish was also quite light, without a bit of seasoning- again, a clean taste.  It was served over a generous portion of absolutely delicious wilted spinach and surrounded by lightly breaded and fried okra- the perfect mix of crunchy and smooth textures.  It was accented by a bisque of pureed sweet corn and leek, flavored with ham hocks.  This dish was so good that I was sad not to be able to finish it all; the portions are really that large.
     Our third course was dessert, a choice of a Chocolate Cookie Mudslide or a slice of Lemon Cheesecake.  We chose both, planning to share, but each dessert was so good that we didn't share very much!  The mudslide was a mousse made with ground and chopped chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies (you know... Oreos!).  There was a whipped cream garnish, accompanied by two large strawberries and a chocolate straw.  The lemon cheesecake wedge was bursting with lemon flavor, a thick, NY style cake that was not too sweet....not even a crumb was left on the plate!
     Over all, I would say that my assessment of Hank's Seafood is that it reminds me of this quote from the movie "Lawrence of Arabia":

Jackson Bentley: What attracts you personally to the desert?
T.E. Lawrence: It's clean.
     For an experience that offers expertly prepared seafood that leaves a clean, fresh taste on the palate, try Hank's, 10 Hayne St., downtown Charleston.

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