Moules frites, better known as mussels and fries, is a Belgian-style specialty that has made a splash over the past several years in the United States. Still, it remains somewhat of a niche trend and good moules can be hard to find. These culinary treats can normally be found in bars and pubs, usually specializing in Belgian brews.
Serious purveyors from coast to coast may, arguably, still be counted on ones fingers. Located in Washington's edgy Atlas District, Granville Moore's seems to be set on remaining on that list. With a solid menu of both Belgian ales and select American micro brews they have the libation front covered. The frites are just right and come with your choice of dipping sauce. The mussels? Outstanding.
Check out the Granville menu and you'll see a handful of appetizers and sandwiches, made with a flair for ingredients, but relatively simple in terms of variety. Bison chili and bison burgers jump out as a healthy, but interesting, twist on pub fare. Let's face it, though. Most people aren't coming for the chili. It's the moules and frites that make this rustic little tavern worth the trip.
The moules come in five varieties, all of which vie for attention. The Japanese themed "Have a Nice Day" version may be the most non-traditional of the bunch, complete with a touch of wasabi. The Navigator and Marinere lean in a less exotic, but equally savory direction, made with lamb sausage and white wine with herbs and garlic, respectively. You absolutely cannot go wrong when ordering the moules Bleu. These fresh, plump mussels come in a broth of bleu cheese, pork belly, shallots, spinach, white wine and lemon. While the bison burgers may be fine, moules Bleu will make you a regular.
You can dip your frites (fries) in one of several delicious choices of sauces, ranging from chipotle mayo to roasted red pepper ketchup. The truffle mayo is, perhaps, the best selling sauce and with good reason. If you crave something with a little more zip, though, you may want to go with the curry mayo or horseradish cream.
Granville Moore's is one of those places that you want to tell others about, but then you wonder if you should just keep it as your own secret. The place is not very big and, especially on the weekends, seating can be a premium. You may have to wait to be seated, particularly if you're with a group and require a table. One or two can squeeze in at the bar more quickly, perhaps, but either way it's worth the wait.
The main thing keeping Granville Moore's from scoring a full five stars is some lackluster service and, most especially, an unacceptable experience with a door host who might be better suited to nightclub work, or even working the counter at a 7-Eleven. These things are easily fixed by attentive management, however, and a bowl of their mouthwatering moules is likely to erase such matters from your mind. They're that good.