Let’s get right to it, shall we: If you’re searching for the best mussels in the Washington, DC, area, Brasserie Beck is hands down the place to go. I give numerous other dishes at this contemporary Belgian brasserie two thumbs up, but the shining star here is, without question, the mussels.
Served with some of the best bread in town, not to mention Belgian frites that are not for the calorie conscious, Brasserie Beck’s mussels are perfectly cooked, come out piping hot, and are drowning in one of several delicious broths from which to choose. Three of my favorites: classic white wine with roasted garlic and parsley; roasted tomato with basil and Buffalo mozzarella; and fennel and chorizo.
My mouth easily waters when I think about gobbling up these delicate mussels, all the while dunking the bread and frites in one of the delectable broths. The thing about mussels is that, if they’re not cooked right, they’re either too chewy or too mushy. I’ve found that to occur at the vast majority of other places in this city that offer mussels.
Situated in the heart of DC’s McPherson Square neighborhood on the corner of 11th and K streets, Brasserie Beck never disappoints when we’re talking about mussels. I’ve had them countless times. Trust me, they’re amazing. D*MNGOOD®, in fact.
However, plenty more is done well at this Belgian restaurant, which features an open kitchen, an oversized bar, and seating for roughly 220 people in a soaring urban space. Opened in 2007 by popular chef/restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier, he definitely stays true to his Belgian roots with this establishment.
Starter-wise, the charcuterie plate and the daily selection of cheeses are a good way to begin – or in the case of cheese, end – a meal, especially if you’re dining with other folks. Besides the aforementioned mussels, go for seasonal oysters, or perhaps the plateau a la Marcel or its larger counterpart, the plateau a la Beck, both featuring clams, lobster, mussels, scallops and shrimp ($65/$95).
A few fresh salads also grace the Brasserie Beck menu, including the Belgian endive salad, the Brightwood Farm mixed greens, the slow-roasted beet salad, and the spinach salad. Since much of the food at this Belgian brasserie is a bit on the rich side, a salad nicely balances the other fare.
For the main course, the seafood fanatic in me almost always orders the grilled trout with potato puree and lemon caper sauce. It is quite tasty and not overly heavy. I’ve also had the pan-seared salmon with essence of orange, curry and pineapple. I like the trout better, but the salmon is good, too.
Getting a few side dishes to share is always fun, and obviously the Belgian frites are fantastic. My other favorites include the Brussels sprouts with bacon and caramelized pears, the gratin of cauliflower, and the potato puree.
Dessert is not something I indulge in often, and that usually holds true when I go to Brasserie Beck, but once in a blue moon, I crave something sweet, and the Belgian waffles are first rate. Last time Dan, Mark and I went, we got the waffles with blueberries and vanilla ice cream. Yum.
Turning to the most important item other than the mussels, the beer selection is pretty darn impressive. Wiedmaier claims that the spacious bar at Brasserie Beck boasts the city’s most comprehensive Belgian beer list, with a handful of draughts and more than 100 bottles. Now, I’m not a huge fan of dark beers, and there are a lot of them on this restaurant’s list, but, for me, several lighter ones (lagers/pilsners) do the trick.
What’s more, the bartenders at Brasserie Beck (full disclosure: we almost always eat at the bar) know their stuff, and they will let you sample beers before making your final decision on a purchase.
We really enjoy eating and drinking at the bar, chatting up the staff, and watching a game. You can also sneak a peek at the exposed kitchen, which is cool. The dinning area is fairly big if you want to sit down at a table. And, on a sunny (not too hot) day, sitting outside, chomping on some mussels, and having some drinks is heavenly.
With Brasserie Beck, Wiedmaier has done a fine job, as he has with his other area restaurants (Brabo, Marcel’s, Mussel Bar and The Tasting Room). Does Brasserie Beck have the best food in the city? Not at all. Is it really good food in a comfortable atmosphere that won’t completely empty your bank account? Absolutely.
Even if you don’t crave mussels, give Brasserie Beck a try. There are plenty of other strong options on the menu. But, if you do “heart” mussels and haven’t gone, do yourself a favor and go soon.
Just don’t eat all the mussels.
Save a couple of them for me.
|Address:||1101 K St., NW (11th St.) Washington, DC 20005|
|Parking:||Street and Valet|
|Metro:||McPherson Square and Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center|
|Serves:||Brunch (Saturday and Sunday); Lunch (Monday-Friday); Dinner (Daily)|
|Specials:||Monday-Sunday (5-7 PM) and Thursday-Saturday (10:30 PM-close): half-priced draft beers and raw bar items|
|Go for:||Mussels and frites; endive salad; spinach salad; lamb sandwich; grilled trout; waffles; beer selection|