“The time has come,” the Walrus said
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings” . . .
My month-long hiatus from eating out has been a challenge to say the least. Amazing new restaurants seem to be popping up all over town, mocking my commitment. There’s The Red Hen over in the Bloomingdale area and Del Campo in Penn Quarter, where everything is grilled. They are mocking me. If I make it to the end of April, and there is no certainty of this, I’ve already planned my re-entry into the foodie world. It’s a place that has never let me down. I’ve taken countless people here and never had a bad meal or a bad time. This spot is 100% good 100% of the time. They can do no wrong. Going to this spot is like falling through the rabbit hole into Wonderland, walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, and going through the looking-glass all in one. If you’ve been here, nothing will ever be the same. My taste-buds rejoice every time I go to this place. It is the litmus test by which I judge all other foodies: if you don’t like it here, we have nothing to talk about.
So where is the magical land where taste-buds are in perpetual happiness. It’s a spot in the H-Street area of Washington, D.C. called Granville Moores. Most people are rolling their eyes at the mention of H-Street. I am well away of the challenges of getting to H-Street but for those intrepid voyagers who make the trek, the rewards are great. Granville Moores is one many rewards in the area; serving sumptuous mussels and hearty Belgium mussels they are a true Atlas District gem.
I could walk you through the perfect meal at this spot, but there’s no point. There is nothing that could possibly disappoint you on the menu, but there are some definite highlights and things not to be missed.
Lets start with the French fries, or as they are called in Belgium: frites. They are perfect. Perfectly hot, perfectly crispy, soft on the inside dusted with parmesan and parsley; these frites are a frites lover’s dream. I haven’t even mentioned the sauces. Years ago the mention of dipping french fries mayonnaise was repulsive to me. Re-branding mayonnaise as aioli has mad this not only a palatable option, it is now an absolute preference. Granville Moores offers a plethora sauces that both enhance and compliment the perfection that is their frites. Take my advice and order the two of the truffle aioli, though the curry aioli and the chipotle mayo are also nice additions, I crave the truffle aioli. The fries come in two sizes: big and gluttonous. I have never been with a group that failed to finish the larger portion.
Even before the moules arrive at the table you are charmed by the rustic atmosphere: exposed beams, mismatched tables and chairs, space made where space could be found, full bars of people hunched over sopping up the last of moules broth up with crusty french bread. Warm low lighting, makes this place feel like home the moment you walk through the door. Once you finish your bowl of moules, you’re prepared to pay the owners rent in order to assure a permanent seat at their table. This is the place, these are the moules that beat out Bobby Flay in a D.C. mussel showdown.
The menu is ever-changing based on season and chef preferences, but there are some constants, the Marinere with white wine, garlic, herbs, butter is one the traditional moules bowl. But at any time throughout the year you might run into more eclectic fare such as the Navigator: moules served with red curry, sweet potato, and lamb sausage, or the Tomatillo with cilantro, jalapeno, garlic and cream.
The best times that I’ve had at Granville Moores have been with large groups of good friends; enough to justify ordering several bowls. We share, playing musical chairs with the moules: sampling, tasting, savoring, laughing – these are the nights that I wish could last.