Hookline “Gulf Coast Low Country” Cuisine: A Review

Hookline reeled me in. I’m a fan!

Image courtesy of Hookline

If you haven’t visted Hookline, the new concept from the Del Sur Restaurant Group, and the “brother” restaurant to Dallas-based Hook Line & Sinker and Urban Taco, you are missing an extremely delightful culinary experience.

Aaron Nelson, former executive sous chef of Bird Cafe in Fort Worth, is running the kitchen, and holds the position of Culinary Director for the Del Sur portfolio of eateries. “I was raised in a kitchen – my father was a chef with one Michelin star and my mother was a pastry chef,” he says. “Years ago I made a career change, when my wife encouraged me to go to culinary school.”

Hookline is a chef driven concept from kitchen to bar. The menu features as many locally sourced items as possible, and when something can’t be locally sourced or picked from the on-site garden, it is a truly unique find and likely won’t be available elsewhere in the metroplex.

Recently Chef took me on a brief dining tour of the menu, to show me what “gulf coast low country” cuisine is all about. And with each course, I got the chance to chat with and to learn more about the man behind the food.

Throughout our conversation between courses, Chef often repeated “this is fun”. I was struck by the innocence in the statement and the apparent love for what he does everyday. When I finally questioned him about the comment, he replied with gentle authority: “This IS fun, and when it’s not funny more, I won’t do it.”.

My Visit

I took a seat at the cocktail bar, right next to the oyster bar, where I gentleman was shucking oysters on display for other diners. I like oysters, fried oysters. And when I told Chef that he suggested that I start with a dish that wasn’t even on the menu at the time of my visit.

Starters

Deviled Eggs topped with Fried Oysters and house-made Bacon Fig Jam

This is a great starter if you’re new to eating oysters. Deviled eggs, a staple covered dish at southern gatherings and holiday events, were eventually bound to be on the Hookline menu, but this is a fun take on surf and turf – style combinations. The fried oysters are delicious and nicely battered, but not heavy. The bacon fig jam is sweet, a little savory, and is a perfect addition making this a really unique starter.

Chef also suggested a second starter.

Pimento Cheese Fritters served on green tomato jam topped with Mississippi Comeback Sauce

The name of this dish explains exactly what it is, but it’s not like anything else you’ve eaten.

The fritters are crunchy on the outside, and once you bite into them, a creamy pimento cheese explosion happens in your mouth. The Mississippi Comeback Sauce has a nice kick (spice) to it and, believe it or not, the fritters are the only dish on the menu that has it. (Go ahead and ask for a side of the sauce when you order this dish. I understand that this happens often because the sauce is just that good.)

Entrée

Gulf Coast Hot Chicken – dill pickle brined five pepper basted half bird topped with icebox pickles and onions, and served on a bed Wonder Bread with a generous side of local honey

This chicken is fried to crispy perfection and is very juicy on the inside. Chef kept this dish simple – fried chicken and bread, there are no sides. Honestly, sides are not needed. The spices will creep up on you creating a mounting level of heat with each bite. The honey adds a nice sweetness and tempers the heat, a tiny bit.

Originally many diners thought this dish was too hot, so Chef dialed the heat back. Then diners didn’t find the dish authentic because, for them, it wasn’t hot enough. On the day of my visit, Chef had just finalized the recipe for the last time, he found the perfect balance and I love it. (I caution that spicy food is not for everyone. I know that hot chicken is very popular, but I highly suggest that another menu item be considered if you were not prepared for the elevated heat this dish packs.)

Cocktails

Cojito – Don Q Coconut Rum, mint, fresh lime juice, Topo Chico

If you are a fan of island-influenced cocktails, this is for you. It’s light and it’s not super sweet. It’s perfect for the coconut lover (like me) anytime of the year.

Bradford Watermelon – BIG Dry Gin, Galliano Apertivo, lemon, watermelon sour, elderflower syrup, compressed watermelon

This refreshing cocktail is a little sweet and a little sour. It pairs really well with the Gulf Coast Hot Chicken. I enjoyed this cocktail very much.

Chef’s Water – barrel-aged Dripping Springs Gin, house-made tonic syrup, Topo Chico, lemon and lime peel with thyme sprig

Chef is a fan of gin, and during our conversation he proclaims his creation to be “a genuine gin and tonic”.

Of the three cocktails I sampled, this was my favorite. I suggest this drink for anyone who is just getting into gin. It’s an easy sipper, so be careful. It’s smooth, and it goes down incredibly easy.

Chef Nelson really believes in educating the staff, not only on the menu items, but on the components of each dish and the history behind them. When you visit, I highly encourage having in-depth conversation with your server about what you are eating. I promise that you will be surprised by all that you learn. Also, many dishes pair well with something from the cocktail menu. Ask your server about food and cocktail pairings for the full Hookline experience.

The offerings at Hookline are growing as Chef Nelson continues to tweak things. Be sure to stop in often to check out the evolution of the menu.

Hookline
5872 State Highway, Suite 104
Plano, Texas 75024
Website: http://hooklineplano.com
Phone: (214) 297-3475

Hours of operation:
Sunday – Thursday 11:00am – 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday 11:00am – 11:00pm
Brunch is served Sundays 11:00am – 3pm

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