££££ - Seafood*
*Warning! This article contains long-winded praise and despite being on a dinner date, I might have been a little swept away by our server.
The setting, was aperitif enough; the ambience was as on-point as an angler's barb. Crisp starched linens, flickering candles and the tinkling of cutlery on China Plates harmonised with a chorus of delighted mmm's and ooh's all around and yet despite being full to the gills, the floor was as calm as lake Windermere on a windless day, however... We were sent away!
They wont cram you in like sardines. YOU MUST BOOK AHEAD.
So, after a whole week, in which time I'd built up my appetite scaling heaving peaks, trekking dales and ravines, I was ravenous and it was worth it.
To start with, I'd hop crags and rivers again for their choice of Luxembourgish Rivaner-Riesling alone.
In the week of waiting for our reservation, I'd thoroughly researched the menu, but I got completely caught up in the infectious energy of Hooked's proprietor, who roused our excitement with his romantic story of leaving New Zealand to follow his heart here. Swoon.
His enthusiasm for everything from provenance, to how plates are paired personally, had me salivating before seeing a single piece of seafood. (You know, you might have got me through the door, but I still want the sale.) I'm a sucker for a story. It means that for an albeit fleeting moment, I'm really savouring flavours and really, really not just trying not to wolf it all down in 5 seconds.
I had the bream and it was brought brimming with pride and from hearing how that bream was caught in the North Sea by an independent fisherman, to how it was lovingly locally filleted with finesse, dressed by the chef and shown just enough flame to crisp it's smooth scaly skin keeping the milky flesh 1% opalescent and full of flavour. It sang with delicate tangy warming Pan-Asian flavours and although that moment didn't last long on my plate, this food story will.
Other dishes exuded robust flavour. Local fare like Bury black pudding, came sweetened with smoked pancetta and razor clams. Once again, for such a busy floor, razor sharp precise timing to cook seafood like this is required. That calls for credit.
There's something special about this place. It's simple, warm and elegant, as is the food and if the board outside does say 'FULL', which it usually is, it's worth the wait. You'll feel fabulous when you're sitting inside when you're just as full, and you'll too be Hooked as the sign outside guarantees.