The month of July often feels like one big, freedom-fueled bash – especially if you live in Washington, D.C. Not only did our great nation tell Britain to ‘back off’ on the 4th, but other nations also claimed their own independence around this time. As the capitol city of the Great American Melting Pot, we not only get to enjoy the most patriotic July 4th fireworks display, but our international dining scene allows us to enjoy celebrations like Bastille Day on the 14th (Le Dip, anyone?) and Belgian Restaurant Week.
On July 21, we made our way out to the Arlington location of Mussel Bar and Grille – Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s ode to laid-back, Belgian food fare – to celebrate Belgian National Day. (Note: Loyal readers may remember our last post on Chef Wiedmaier’s fine dishes when we brunched at Marcel’s in West End).
While the spectacular deal of $24 all-you-can-eat mussels has come to an end, this is an eatery to hit all summer long. It’s spacious, unpretentious and just plain delicious, which is a perfect combination for relaxed summer dining.
Here are six reasons to hit Mussel Bar not just on Belgian National Day, but any day.
Blue Crab Dip
While Belgians are typically known for their beer (on Mussel’s list is its own special beer, Antigoon, brewed by Wiedmaier in Belgium), we were feeling prissy and opted for the special summer cocktails. Think seasonal fruits, like watermelon, spiked with summery spirits (tequila and rum, of course) and garnished with citrus. All delicious, all named after classic rock songs. Next time, however, we’d do it the Belgian way and enjoy Wiedmaier’s special brew.
If your dining companion isn’t hustling toward a plate of mussels, no need to worry! Mussel Bar’s menu has a variety of other options like hearty ragu-topped pastas, steak frites, veal burgers and tarte flambée a.k.a. delicious brick oven fired pizzas (had there been enough room in our tummies, the blue cheese and hazelnut flatbread would have certainly been ordered).
Ultimately, after our award-winning dining experience at Marcel’s, it was enjoyable to see how Wiedmaier portrays the everyday cuisine he enjoyed in his native country. The kind of place, according to Mussel, where he would relax with friends, enjoy good music and indulge in beer, moules and frites. Could anything be more ideal for a summer meal? We don’t think so.