Washington, DC 20007
Tackle Box was my first foray to one of Mike Isabella's (he of Top Chef Fame) restaurants in DC. Isabella has created some great buzz for his Italian place, Graffiato, and has recently opened a tapas place right next door to Tackle Box called Bandalero. Tackle Box is described as lobster shack and it's Isabella's take on some American seafood favorites. A kind of reminder of the beach without the beach. It's located on a really busy strip in Georgetown so traffic and parking were pretty trying and hopefully a good meal could make up for all that. I decided to have an early dinner there so the restaurant was pretty thinned out when I arrived.
Next in line were they fried clams. They were served simply with some lemon wedges and tartar sauce. One thing I have to say about this joint is that they are pretty generous with the seafood portions. The clam strips again were pretty big and plentiful. The batter, however, was simply too much on the clams. It was heavy and clumpy and made you forget that clams were even part of the dish. When I did get a bite of exposed clam, they seemed fresh and cooked well. Unfortunately, those bites were few and far between for this dish.
Pearl Oyster Bar and while it took a while to wrap around my head that lobster was served cold, I grew very fond of the sandwich. At Tackle Box, they had two versions (Connecticut and Maine) of the lobster roll. The Maine kind is the classic cold sandwich with mayonnaise. The CT lobster roll is apparently served hot with drawn butter. I stuck with the ME version. It was served with fries which I barely touched but seemed pretty tasty. The lobster is served in a traditional top loading bun which I wish was more thoroughly toasted to give a bit of contrast in texture. The lobster meat was chunky and plentiful yet bland. There was some sort of flavored mayo mixed in but I couldn't quite make it out.
I rarely mention the price of food in my writings since I think good food is usually worth the price you pay. Tackle Box would be no different except that the promises it makes does not match the food it delivers. While I think Tackle Box is a needed concept in Washington DC, I think it's still stuck in the conceptual phase. Yes, it's a full-running restaurant but it feels like the follow-through is still not quite there and while there's a good emphasis on style, the food gets lost in the process. I'm told that this the restaurant's second location and maybe it's still working out the kinks of moving or maybe it was just a bad time of day since it was right near a shift change. Whatever it was, I hope it changes so that I can go back and really enjoy my seafood favorites.