[Pigging by Wilfrid: May 8, 2017]
Simplicity is the eye of the beholder. Great frying is the mouth...of the eater, I suppose.
I was on Clinton Street, I was hungry, I'd never noticed Simply Hooked before, and there was no-one at the dining counter (there are tables in the back). And the real draw was the simply priced combo on the blackboard.
$17 for fish and chips and a sauce. Simplicity itself. And more attractive, at that moment, than putting together an exotic burger and fries for a similar price (maybe a dollar of two more) at Burgary a few doors away.
That's where the simple bit ended, because a combo can get complicated. And the narrative behind Simply Hooked more complicated still. If you're interested in the back story, go to the website: all I'm going to say here is "sustainable seafood, Basque-Irish style, by a MasterChef finalist, and partnered with the Lonely Whale Foundation."
I do have to say a bit more about the combo. Fish and chips? Nothing simple? Well you choose a sustainable fish of the day from a choice of three or four (pollock, wild blue catfish, spiny dogfish, Boston mackerel). Then you choose a batter or a breading (examples: Organic Stout & Squid Ink Tempura; Sichuan Pepper & Ginger Panko); and then the sauce (there are seven).
I chose catfish, then what looked like the simplest of the coatings--really: Matcha & Spirulina Tempura; and good old tartare sauce. I didn't even know what spirulina was: shoot me. It's an algae. Oh well.
The good news: I couldn't taste any algae in the tempura batter, which was superbly light and crispy. The fish was perfectly cooked, and I don't know you can get better fries anywhere in New York. Impeccable. And although it was all served in an awkward rectangular bowl, there was plenty of it. The fish wore a salad necklace.
Beer and wines from a short list, water served in coffee mugs.
No wonder I hadn't noticed Simply Hooked before--it opened on April 20, and doesn't yet seem to have found its crowd. I wonder if the menu, on close examination, is off-putting. When it comes to simply eating, though, this is is the best fish and chips I've had since Paul Liebrandt's at The Elm. Worth a trip.