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At the Table: Chowder, charred octopus stand out from Latham’s Hooked Market & Kitchen

Fresh fish is for sale alongside the main dining room at Hooked Market & Kitchen. Inset left: Baja fish tacos with house-made chips. Inset right: Charred octopus with grits, olive tapenade and smashed Yukon Gold potatoes.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Fresh fish is for sale alongside the main dining room at Hooked Market & Kitchen. Inset left: Baja fish tacos with house-made chips. Inset right: Charred octopus with grits, olive tapenade and smashed Yukon Gold potatoes.

There was a golden window this summer when husband Eric retired and we threw a party. Everybody came and nobody worried.

We’re not so confident anymore.

Eric and I looked into all the people in the crowded, brightly lighted and bustling dining room at Hooked Market & Kitchen on Route 7 in Latham — and opted for takeout.

We had a good meal away from the crowds, though we did get to see what we missed as we waited the short time for our food: the friendly staff, the great smells, the silverware clinking on plates and glasses.

Hooked Market & Kitchen settled in its new home in August, not far from where it all began across the street in Galleria 7 Market in Latham.

Husband-and-wife team Luke and Katie Haskins started Hooked Seafood Co. in 2015, driving to Boston twice a week to hand-select fresh fish. It has grown into Hooked Market & Kitchen, offering prepared foods to-go in addition to a full-service restaurant.

If the dining room was busy, the staff was even busier: working multiple sauté pans, calling orders, clattering plates of food up for servers, shaking cocktails.

The building that was a pizza place has been smartened up and renovated. Enter at the back of the building to find the cashier, tall refrigerators full of homemade products for sale and a counter/display case. Most of the building is given over to the large, clean and modern dining room that’s white with blue accents and has dangly pendant lamps. A bar overlooks busy Route 7.

There’s a raw bar — selections change daily — and Hooked has salads and small plates that reflect the seasons: Now you can get Brussels sprouts flash-fried with pickled onion, pineapple, feta, cashews and cilantro ($12). A winter kale salad is $10; add grilled salmon or cod for $9 more.

You’d expect fish and chips ($19) and sautéed mussels ($14), along with paella ($26) or a fish burger ($16). There’s also local beef, from Highland Hollow Farm in Schoharie: a seared ribeye ($38) and ground beef for burgers.

All the food is homemade, said Katie Haskins, with a few exceptions such as the french fries.

The market part of Hooked sells fresh fish, local meats and an array of prepared foods such as pizzas, empanadas and crab cakes.

The restaurant offers house cocktails in addition to beer in cans or bottles or on draft, and a selection of interesting wines by the glass or bottle. There are no mass-market wines, thank you.

“Boy, this soup is delicious,” said Eric, of the New England fish chowder ($6 cup) after we’d settled in at home in front of the fire. “It’s a little peppery, creamy and smooth.” It’s not your usual clam chowder. “The fish is a good substitute,” he said.

We shared a small crusty ciabatta baguette with their unsalted butter. We’d set the coffee table with flowers and candle and menu, a bit fancier than the restaurant’s informal dining room. It felt very restaurant-y.

I had the Baja fish tacos ($15), each soft flour tortilla filled with a hunk of fried whitefish, Mexican sauerkraut, salsa verde and sweet mango habanero sauce. There were homemade tortilla chips on the side, along with spicy salsa.

The fish was flaky and tender, not as crisp as if we’d dined in but still delicious. The slaw tasted quick-pickled and tart, and there were thinly sliced peppers that provided some heat.

I ordered the sauce on the side and wish I’d had more: It provided a much-needed sweet note and tasted delicious.

The tacos were topped off with cilantro micro greens, a nice touch.

The tacos were not at peak, but I got the idea that Hooked has a sure hand with fish. Their house-made chips were a bit thicker than mass-produced ones, but crunchy and good, though I added sea salt. Their salsa was spicy enough, with a smooth texture.

Eric had been set on the charred octopus ($19) since he’d seen the luscious photos on the Hooked website. He was not disappointed.

“The tentacles are nice, tender, and the charred flavor is very good,” he reported happily. I’d transferred the dish to a plate the best I could, but the green olive tapenade mixed with creamy grits.
“I like the octopus,” he decided, “It has a delicate flavor.” The sides complimented the fish, he said. “How many places have charred octopus?” he wondered aloud.

The potatoes, smashed Yukon Gold minis, were cooked with pork lard, an excellent idea.

We shared an order of flan ($11) for dessert. I didn’t even try to replate it.

The custard was dense and sweet, topped with slightly bitter caramel that took the edge off the richness. Hooked served the delicious treat with four kinds of lovely fresh berries. “The blueberries were picked at the peak of ripeness,” Eric said.

It was vanilla-scented and thick, with dense, sweetened whipped cream. Eric said by way of understatement, “Tasted good.”

The tab for our food came to $59.72. We added a tip for the folks who put our order together.

We’ll head back to Hooked Market & Kitchen now that we know where to get charred octopus. Hopefully then we’ll be eating in, enjoying their food at its peak of freshness.

Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Reach her at [email protected]

Hooked Market & Kitchen

WHERE: 1177 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham; (518) 389-6217; hookedmarketandkitchen.com
WHEN: Open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
HOW MUCH: $59.72 with tax and surcharge.
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover. ADA compliant. Parking lot. Reservations accepted for parties of 8 or more. Children’s menu soon. Hooked welcomes call-ahead and takeout orders.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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