After years of vacancy at the former McDonald’s space, Tackle Box finally opened its doors yesterday. Between this and Medium Rare, new life has been injected into the Cleveland Park dining scene.
We had the opportunity to check out the restaurant’s newest location (the original is located in Georgetown, right next to sister venue Hook) for a friends and family event. Tackle Box offered a stripped-down version of their regular menu, at no cost, from 4pm to close. Talk about spreading goodwill to the neighborhood!
If you are not already familiar with Tackle Box, they are a casual seafood eatery that offers selections of grilled and fried fish, oysters, lobster rolls, clam chowder, and much more. The Cleveland Park location, however, is not only two stories, but also features an expanded menu.
The space sets the tone of a lobster shack, complete with buoys lining the walls while American flags are adorned in several corners of the restaurant. As their website proclaims – “We like summer vacation at the beach. That’s why we decided to open a lobster shack in the middle of the city for those days we couldn’t make the drive.”
Once we stepped inside, we felt like we were transported to the shore as the place was packed with communal picnic tables along with servers who looked like they were no older than 20 years old. Not that you’ll be looking for elite service with this type of venue as orders are brought out by number with servers hunting you down with plastic trays with meals prepared in paper plates/platters.
The huge bar that runs down nearly the entire length of the bottom floor looks like a great gathering place after work. The best part? They offer Natty Boh on tap!
Rachel and I split a half dozen raw oysters prepared at the raw bar by the front of the house. Accompanied with cocktail sauce and vinegar, these were some surprisingly large oysters. They were freshly shucked, very clean, and nicely presented in a wooden bowl (orders of dozen came out on a steel tray).
As for our entrees, we both ordered the Maine Meal which comes with a choice of fish, two sides, and a sauce. I ordered the grilled tilapia with lemon-garlic aioli, grilled broccoli, and mashed potatoes while Rachel got the grilled cod with a grilled portabella mushroom and corn on the cob.
Rachel originally wanted to order the whole steamed lobster, but alas, it was 86’ed by the time she stepped up to the counter. The fact that they included this on the complimentary menu spoke volumes on their effort to appease new customers though.
Anyway, I enjoyed the tilapia. It was nothing fancy, but for $7 a la carte (the Maine Meal is normally $14.50), one shouldn’t need to complain. While it was a tad salty, it was a decent piece of fish. When my platter arrived, I received a generous portion of grilled broccoli but my mashed potatoes were nowhere to be found. After informing the waiter, he told me that they had run out. Minutes later, he delivered a fresh batch of French fries! Nice gesture (and really good fries, to boot).
Rachel’s cod was excellently grilled and had great flavor to it, especially when dipped into the lemon-garlic aioli sauce. The corn was a little cold by the time she had bit into it, but it still had a nice char to it, if not a tad too buttery. The star of the show had to have been the mushroom, which she thought was huge, until she saw a fellow diner’s even larger mushroom. She said that alone could be an entree, and was a great deal as a side.
We also split a brownie sundae which arrived with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. It was a great way to end the meal as the homemade brownie was soft and delicious while the ice cream, which was nearly melted by the time we got around to eating it, was still very rich in flavor.
We can see Tackle Box being very successful in Cleveland Park given the location, expansive menu, and huge dining space. It’s been a long time coming for that long-vacant space, and we can’t think of a better restaurant to fill the void than Tackle Box.
Tackle Box is located on 3407 Connecticut Avenue in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of DC.