From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants
THE SCENE. If Pottery Barn were a restaurant, it might look something like this tiny, lovable oyster bar. Pen-and-ink drawings of fish adorn the russet walls, the day's half-shell specials are scrawled on a blackboard, and steel ducts crisscross the dining room. An urbane, pea-coated crowd swigs Sancerre standing up during the inevitable wait for a table.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Chef/owner Jamie Leeds mixes the rib-sticking fare that won her praise at 15 Ria--nightly "meat and two" specials; buttermilk onion rings; cheddar-and-Gouda mac and cheese--with fresh, simply done fish and at least four varieties of oysters. It's the only place outside the impersonal seafood chains that you'll find icy platters of Hog Islands, Beausoleils, Kumamotos, and Belons.
WHAT YOU WON'T. Cramped quarters. Hank's doesn't take reservations (though you can call ahead to put your name on the list), which means there's often a long wait and--especially in the winter, when patio seating isn't an option--little place to do it. And the kitchen commits the occasional oversight--be it over-salting, under-frying, or a watery rendition of clam chowder.
BEST DISHES. A Kumamoto oyster shot with sake and tomato water; peel-and-eat shrimp; fried calamari and popcorn shrimp, served in a beachy pail with rémoulade; Caesar salad with oyster crackers and white anchovies; fried oyster po' boy; mac and cheese with white cheddar and Gouda; Old Bay fries and Leeds's famous onion rings.