Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tackle Box Food Review

Tackle Box Meal - Clam Strips & Hush Puppies

Dead in the Water

Tackle Box has been around for a while, and has gained quite a following in Georgetown. It expanded to Cleveland Park a few years ago; but quickly closed (within a year.) As a loyal fan of Arthur Treacher's, I love all things fishy (so long as it's fried.) Tackle Box should be a no-brainer favorite o'mine. Is/was it? Let's sea see.

I ordered a Tackle Box Meal (1 fish, 1 side & 1 sauce for $11.50) and chose Clams Strips for the former, with a side of Hush Puppies and Classic Tartar sauce. The cashier (Najee) was very friendly, and brought my order to my window seat about 10 minutes later. That was around 9 PM, and the restaurant was quite (too) dark. Decor is nautical-chic, minus the chic. Think Nantucket cozy... with Shaggy and Beres Hammond playing in the background. Nice enough for a casual meal.

I've eaten here twice before, and several times at Cleveland Park. My main complaint? Wait times (not the case last night) and cooking inconsistencies. The latter was readily apparent with my first hushpuppy... a mushy, albeit flavorful bite that needed another minute or two in the deep fryer. Texture notwithstanding, I'd gladly order them again (and again.)

The clams, on the other hand were a major disappointment. Tiny to a fault, they're impossible to handle with a fork; and dipping is equally futile (they literally disappear in the sauce... messy, messy.) Taste is hard to gauge as well: You have to eat a bunch at once, to detect any flavor. To be frank, I'm surprised they put them on my plate at all. If not for this review, I would have sent them back to the kitchen (where they belong.)

So what's the final verdict? I really want to recommend Tackle Box (I love the concept) but I've been burned too many times to do so. The beauty of fried food is that it's supposed to be mistake-proof. Change the oil, set the timer and poof... deliciousness. Either the kitchen isn't paying attention, or their timers are broken. My advice? Inspect/taste every dish before you send it out. Nobody (especially food critics) wants to eat poorly prepared food... even (especially) if it's fried.