Bait & Hook the Latest in a New York Trend: The Laid-Back Fish Shack

The traditional American seafood shack is the catch of the day in New York casual dining, spotted recently from Gowanus to the Lower East Side. One of the newest is Bait & Hook, which replaced a short-lived meatball specialist four months ago. Reporting on Chowhound, small h says the place shows promise, serving a commendable lobster roll; faultless steamed lobster; and well-shucked Blue Point oysters, neither too big nor too small. Décor is "few-frills" nautical, small h adds, and service is well-meaning but hit-or-miss. Bait & Hook is "trying pretty hard to be good and may yet succeed."

Long before the current school of fish shacks, downtown hounds packed Mary's Fish Camp and Pearl Oyster Bar in the Village. One-time Pearl partisan foodwhisperer, who recently revisited Mary's, reports a sea change: While the two remain competitive in lobster rolls and clam chowder, Mary's offers a warmer vibe and more creative dishes—like zesty seared scallops with chickpea tagine, yogurt, and harissa, "perfect for warming your bones when there's a chill in the air. You won't find anything like this at Pearl." What sam1 finds at Pearl these days is the tourist treatment. "I go to Mary's regularly," he says, "and it's the opposite. They may be swamped but they treat everyone well. The food isn't inventive but always solid and probably the best bet of all of the seafood shacks that are opening up all over the city."

Bait & Hook [Gramercy]
231 E. 14th Street (at Second Avenue), Manhattan
212-260-8015

Mary's Fish Camp [Greenwich Village]
64 Charles Street (at W. Fourth Street), Manhattan
646-486-2185

Pearl Oyster Bar [Greenwich Village]
18 Cornelia Street (between Bleecker and W. Fourth streets), Manhattan
212-691-8211

Discuss: Bait and Hook: Good Effort, Needs Work
Mary's Fish Camp vs. Pearl Oyster Bar

Photo from Bait & Hook