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The Early Word on Hank's Oyster Bar's New Hill Spot

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Photo: R. Lopez

Jamie Leeds opened her third Hank's Oyster Bar outpost just a week and a half ago on Capitol Hill — this time combining her tried-and-true menu with a bar program designed by much-lauded mixologist Gina Chersevani. Not only has one of Chersevani's cocktails already been named Esquire's cocktail of the week, but word is that seats have been unsurprisingly hard to come by since Hank's opened thanks to neighbors who have been eager to get in for a bite. Here's what those early diners are saying about Hank's on the Hill.

The Hard Workers News: Famous DC attended the soft opening and took note of all the work going into Chersevani's bar program: "We did feel bad for the guys (and gal!) working so hard for our drinks but that went away after one sip.  You can hand chip ice all night if you’re going to give us fresh, innovative cocktails at an affordable price." [Famous DC]

The Great Eddy Bar News: Washington Post bar critic Fritz Hahn files an early review of the cocktail list: "The 20-seat Eddy Bar, where Chersevani is in charge, is enough of a draw on its own. As with her other cocktail menus, it’s heavy on seasonal ingredients and creative twists. I’ll happily nurse the Pirate Riot, a tiki-ish mix of aged rum, pineapple, white pepper and, for a bit of fizz, Green Flash’s Rayon Vert beer. The Squeezed Melons is summer freshness in a glass: fresh cantaloupe and honeydew melon juice with gin, cinnamon and a touch of mint, and it checks in at just 100 calories. ... Perhaps the most intriguing in this summer of frozen cocktails: Forgetfully Fernet, a large coupe full of Jameson whiskey, ginger and lemon juice, topped with an iceberg-sized chunk of frozen Fernet Branca." [WaPo]

The So-So Food News: A Washington Blade profile of the latest incarnation of Hank's Oyster Bar rings mostly positive save for a miss on the main course: "On Tuesday night, I dined at Hank’s on the Hill and ordered grilled pork chop. I chose the heirloom tomatoes and the buttermilk onion rings as my sides. Both sides were palatable, but the pork chop was cooked unevenly and some morsels were juiceless. The short ribs were not available on the night I dined, but the fried oysters were and I agree with Leeds. The oysters were delicious fried bites that perfectly combined the crispy breading and delicate flavor of the oysters." [Washington Blade]

The Hours In News: One Don Rockwell commenter got in a mere hours into the restaurant's opening day and reports back: "They seem to be up to speed pretty seamlessly on the food. I sampled fried oysters, popcorn shrimp and calamari (ethereal tempura-like batter for all of them) and was just transported to another dimension. I also got the Old Bay peel-and-eat shrimp and was surprised by how many there were (maybe 15 for $13). They will need to get things a little more coordinated behind the bar, but this place blows Senart's out of the water." [Don Rockwell]

More Great Cocktail News: Capitol Hill neighborhood expert Margaret Holwill stopped in for some drinks: "Cocktails by @MIXTRESSdc are beautiful to behold @Hanksoysterbar on Capitol Hill. Turns having a drink into a celebration." [Twitter]

The Great Soda News: Chersevani has some sodas up her sleeve, too, that had one Yelper wanting more: "We started with 2 of their homemade sodas: the blueberry and the citrus sage. The citrus soda was fantastic: it was like a puckery lemonade with some added kick. I had to restrain myself from ordering a second one (at four dollars a pop, I'll limit myself to one and savor it slowly). I tried my friend's blueberry soda and it was great, too. Highly recommend both flavors." [Yelp]

The Rave: This Yelper files a five-star review with "ZERO complaints" about the new spot: "I was fortunate enough to get to try out the new spot for their soft opening on Saturday (which forced me out of Yelp retirement!) and I have to say: this is the best Hank's in the city and, arguably, the best oyster spot in DC (toss up between the terrific Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and here). When racked up against a suddenly busy dining scene on the SE Capitol Hill / Barracks Row corridor, Hanks swoops in and is — for your dollar — the best place to eat in the area. Sorry to all my pals over at Senarts." [Yelp]

The Noise Level News: The main complaints about the restaurant so far seem to be about the noise levels, including from this Don Rockwell user: "Bob and I stopped in for early drinks and dinner at 5:15 tonight and the bar was already full; the tables were all taken just a short while later. I love what they've done with the space, particularly the bar, but man is this place loud—Bob and I were literally shouting across the table to hear each other." [Don Rockwell]

Hank's Oyster Bar - Capitol Hill

633 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, Dc