Hook & Vine

Story by Angela Mattingly Breck, Fall 2019
Serving up Sensational Southern Coastal Cuisine in North Beach

 

A visit to Hook & Vine kitchen and bar on the eatery’s one-year anniversary found owners Kevin and Monica Phillips all smiles and more than happy to talk about their restaurant on 7th Street in North Beach, just a few steps from the Chesapeake Bay.
It’s been a year since the restaurant officially opened May 2, 2018. And it’s been a busy one, Kevin says. He acknowledged there was a lot he and his wife didn’t know when they first opened, like being unsure of what the winter would bring after its first summer in business. But the crowds have continued to come, and Kevin and Monica are pleased with how things are going so far.
“It’s been good,” Kevin says. “It’s steady. We’re getting new people in all the time.”

Quaint and cozy
The interior of the converted house is quaint. Walls are adorned with artwork, much of which is done in a nautical theme and much of which is done by local artists. Beautiful shelving from pallet wood in the dining room was made by Monica’s father. She says a local carpenter built the bar as she points out some features made from repurposed items.

Open seven days a week, the restaurant and bar area can seat about 50 people. Now that the weather has warmed up, Hook & Vine can offer outdoor seating on the front porch and patio so that increases its capacity a bit.
Kevin says when the weather is nice, very often folks prefer to sit outside where they can see the bay and enjoy the Southern coastal cuisine that’s being cooked up in the kitchen. Kevin likes Southern food. Diners will find many dishes made with pork and bacon (and there’s a maple-glazed Brussels sprout with bacon appetizer).
“We like to take Southern things and put our own twist on them,” Kevin says.

 

What’s for dinner?
The menu can change with the season. And a lot depends on what is in season. The Phillipses try to buy from local vendors and farms whenever they can, and that includes fresh seafood. By now, the eatery has switched to its summer menu.
Appetizers offered in early May included items such as mussels in white wine garlic sauce, crab bruschetta, kickin’ tempura shrimp (definitely lived up to their name) pulled pork or beef sliders, tempura lobster bites with veggies (very tasty!) and a house favorite, BLT deviled eggs (they’re topped with bacon and tomato and served on a bed of arugula; add crab meat for an additional fee). So many choices, but so little time to try them all!

A popular item is the Hook & Vine Burger. It’s topped with applewood smoked bacon, Havarti cheese, bacon bourbon jam, barbecue sauce and jalapenos. The burger is “equally as messy as it is delicious,” says Monica.
The “hand-helds” portion of the menu included a cheeseburger, crab cake sandwich, and fish, chicken or pulled pork tacos.There were many entrees to choose from including shrimp and grits, fish and chips, jambalaya, etouffee, crab cakes and a fresh catch, which happened to be salmon and mahi mahi on the evening of our visit.
The bourbon-glazed pork chop (Kevin describes it as a big, thick

-cut) is a customer favorite. There are other steak and chicken offerings on the menu. We tried the Cajun pasta (it was a spicy, creamy Alfredo sauce with shrimp, chicken and red peppers) and ravioli in lobster sauce (cheese ravioli in a creamy tomato sauce topped with pieces of lobster). Both were excellent.

 

Have it your way

Hook & Vine has some gluten-free items on the menu (including cream of crab soup made daily), as well as items for vegetarians and vegans. Monica says they will customize dishes for those with dietary restrictions whenever possible.
“If we can we do,” she says. “That’s the fun part of not having pre-prepared food. … Using fresh ingredients, like you’re making it from scratch, you’re making it to order, you can adjust,” in some cases.
Kevin says cooking from scratch makes a difference in the food’s taste and flavor.
That is one of the reasons Executive Chef Charles Ford enjoys the work at Hook & Vine.

After a 15-year stint in the U.S. Navy as a culinary specialist, he headed back home to Calvert County. After training at the Le Cordon Bleu in Miami and a short career in the health care field, Ford says he was ready to get back in the kitchen scratch cooking.
And, luckily, he met the Fords and soon joined them at Hook & Vine.
He said he enjoys working with Kevin and Monica creating the menu. One of the toughest parts is narrowing down what they can serve.
Kevin says Charles is a good fit. “And he’s really good with soups and sauces,” Kevin adds.

 

 

What’s ahead?

Kevin and Monica say they’ll continue special events once the rush of the season is over.
The busy times of summer don’t allow them to hold special dinners and events such as bourbon and wine tastings.
Last winter on Monday and Tuesday nights, it was a good opportunity for the restaurant to try some special evenings.
“We did about three or four wine dinners. We did a beer dinner and a bourbon dinner,” he says. “We were fortunate enough to be able to do that. It’s fun for us because we are able to do different foods that we don’t normally have on our menu.”
Diners are eager to come in to taste different things they normally wouldn’t try, Kevin says. “It opens their eyes to what’s out there.”
Patrons can expect more of these events.

THE AQUAHOLIC INGREDIENTS: 1 oz. Rock Town vodka, .5 oz. Midori melon liqueur, .5 oz. Blue Curacao liqueur, .5 oz. Peach schnapps, 2 oz. Pineapple juice Club soda. PREPARATION: Shake with ice. Strain into 16-oz. ice-filled glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with lime and maraschino cherry (pictured) or perhaps an edible flower.

Hook & Vine is open

  • 4-9 p.m. Mondays
  • 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays
  • 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
  • 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays

Happy Hour is  3-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. There are plenty of specials on starters and drinks (a specialty and creative classic cocktails menu created by Monica Phillips is available).
Hook & Vine is located at
4114 7th St., North Beach.
Make reservations at OpenTable.com.
443-964-5488; hookandvine.com