Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Saturday, noon until midnight; Sunday, noon until 10 p.m.
Reservations: For parties of 12 and more.
Atmosphere: Modern dormitory dining. Attractive nautical artifacts.
Price Range: From $6.75 for ocean or bay fish selections to variable amount for lobster.
Credit cards: All major.
Special facilities: Highchairs available. Accessible for wheelchairs. Pay parking lot available.;
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Sunday from noon until 10 p.m.
Atmosphere: Nine dining rooms divided into large and small rooms.
Reservations: Yes, but there are no guaranteed room requests.
Price Range: From $5.75 for fried oysters, bluefish or halibut to $24.85 for two 1-pound lobsters.
Credit cards: All major.
Special facilities: Highchairs and boosters. Accessible for wheelchairs.
Pay parking lot available.
Oh, how the old waterfront has changed. Gone are the ramshackle remembrances of the 60s, replaced by large, modern fish factories that sit directly on the water side of the street.
Hogate's and Flagship are monumental fish restaurants in this city. Washingtonians can recall their first -- and in many instances last -- visit to either establishment.
If your last memories of the Southwest water area are of repugnant fish smells and old fish houses, it's time for another visit. Inside and out, the area sparkles. There are wide walkways and well-lit sections.
The restaurants are literally side-by-side with many similarities and yet some special differences. One annoying identical feature is paid underground parking. Diners receive reduced parking rates, but the convenience of a restaurant parking lot is more appreciated if it comes as part of the package rather than as an additional charge.
Another similarity is that both restaurants serve rum buns. The buns are different in size and recipe but are a fine Washington tradition.
At Hogate's, control is the key to efficiency. The host is not alarmed by the large crowds of people for every dining room and every table is part of an automated light-up system that helps solve table placement problems. There are four dining decks of upper and lower spaced tables. There are some nice table touches with terry napkins and fresh flowers leading the list.
We began with the "specialty of the house," snapping turtle soup with sherry ($1.75). It was without snap and no amount of sherry would compensate for the lack of seasoning stock. We did not do much better with the Manhattan clam chowder ($1.50). It, too, was rich in color bu unseasoned and watery thin.
The children's menu is small and rigid in selection with fried scallops, fried flounder, chicken or hamburger available for $3.95. Our children were hot and hungry for crab.
Our 5-year-old is going through an eating period and loves to concentrate on crab legs. She scopped every piece from three large, fully filled Alaskan crab legs ($10.95). She thought the waitress was silly to tie on a big plastic lobster bib, but an item as messy as this, with drawn butter, certainly qualifies for an adult-sized bib. Her entree was the best of our four.
Our son's crabmeat Norfolk ($9.25) was fairly clean of cartilage and arrived steaming with butter. Its plain taste was enlivened with lemon juice.
The fries and cole slaw were hardly outstanding, nor was our special order of homemade onion rings ($1.25). There were just a few overbreaded small rings -- a small portion in view of the generous amounts of other menu items.
Overbreading and overfrying totoally destroyed two large soft-shell crabs ($7.95). This dish does best when it is quickly dipped and fried.
From the fresh catch list I chose Boston scrod ($7.95), which was a thick portion of light fish that had been a little underbroiled. An adult and a child could easily share this large, perfectly fileted portion.
The selections and preparations are truly too numerous to mention. Stick with the simple choices and remember that steaming and broiling may be the best styles to consider.
We all shared a piece of cheesecake with blueberry sauce (95 cents). It was a thick double creamy dessert that made young children forget they could not eat another bite. The dessert won the highest marks of the evening. After this, a waterside walk was essential.
All this food does not come cheaply. Our meal at Hogate's for two adults and two children with summer appetites came to $52.01, including tax and tip. No bar items or soft drinks were ordered. The price would be significantly less if the children's menu was used.
To sample both restaurants and to please a mathematical husband, we established some dining constants. We went to the restaurants a week apart on Sunday evening for an early dinner.
At Flagship the tables are a little closer together, but there are some small dining rooms.
Flagship has a special dinner menu with complete meals for $5.95. In addition to the fries, cole slaw and rum buns, hushpuppies are part of the meal. Portions are large. The menu for children under 10 includes shrimp and crab.
Our daughter chose the fried shrimp ($3.30), which had been carefully breaded and fried quickly. They were of respectable size and quickly disappeared.
Our son did not fare as well with the chopped sirloin ($2.85), which was really a slightly overcooked hamburger sandwich. That didn't bother him much since already he had enjoyed a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder ($1.75), which was well-seasoned and meaty. He also thought the rum buns with the extra hot icing were a wonderful way to have dessert in the middle of the meal.
The creole crab gumbo bowl ($1.75) was also a good soup choice. It is a brown stock, unlike Maryland crab soup. It was well-seasoned and thick.
My husband's soft-shell crab entree found a plate with three very tiny crabs that had been quickly pan-fried. They were small and without the true full flavor of a larger specimen.
I selected one of the four special dinner offerings at $5.95. The tiny gulf shrimp au gratin were a testimony to truth-in-menu advertising as they were indeed tiny. Yet, there were many of them under a thin au gratin sauce that is barely cheese flavored.
Three dinners included dessert; the children got ice cream and I had frozen strawberry yogurt. We also sampled a slice of key lime pie (95 cents), which is a mountainous portion of chiffon whipped lime.
The menu lists many offerings and a variety of preparations. The waitress details the day's fresh selections. Service is prompt.
Our total bill at Flagship with two cocktails and soft drinks was $33.31, including tax and tip.
Neither restaurant provides separate areas for non-smoking families. Smoke bothered us throughout our meal.
The crowds in both restaurants are staggering, but service is quick, the fish portions are large and there is no shortage of selections or styles.
If rum buns remind you of your first visit to Washington, pretend you're a tourist and enjoy the waterfront restaurants, their proximity to museums and the pleasant after-dinner waterfront walk.