by Amanda Mattos
This week my lovely roomates and I headed out to Granville Moore’s on H St for some moules frites. The restaurant has been raved about, the chef has beaten Bobby Flay in a challenge, and I’ve tried to go more than once and been met with “sure, that’ll be about a two hour wait.” The clamour seems to have died down, and we were able to sit down right away. And hey, bonus! Monday nights feature a mussel special — only $10 for a huge bowl instead of the normal $16. All signs point to amazing.
Frankly, it was not actually that amazing. We shared two kinds of mussels at our server’s suggestion — the Provencalle, served in a rustic tomato sauce with bison sausage, and the Bierre, dressed up in a celeriac and leek cream/dekoninck ale/applewood bacon sauce. Both were unobjectionable to tasty, but I wasn’t moved at all. A few of the mussels themselves tasted a little bit beyond the pale and too fishy, and none of the flavors were particularly impressive. And the more I eat Belgian-style frites, the more I realize that I’m more of a crispy fried potato kind of girl than a nearly-soggy, deeply-starchy boardwalk fry kind of girl. But the dipping sauces were a song. So while this was a passable meal (accompanied by delicious, though pricey, beers), it went drastically downhill when we finished the mussels and decided we needed one more little thing to tide us over before heading home to belatedly take down our Christmas tree.
We settled on the Brie appetizer, described as a fried and served with apple compote. A few minutes later our server brought us two large breaded squares atop a splash of relish. Interesting, we thought. Each of us cut off a little bit, added some compote, and tasted. And then: silence. “That’s….” Liz said, bewildered. “…Yeah…”, Tim concurred. It was, to be plain, not good. How can somebody mess up something as delicious as brie? And using a principal so basic as frying cheese, ably performed at TGI Fridays around the world every day? I do not know.
The cheese itself wasn’t that flavorful, and the batter tasted like stale, less-flavorful shake-n-bake. It was dry on the outside, oddly unappetizing on the inside, and came together for a truly unappealing last course to our meal. I should say, however, that the compote was quite good — hints of clove and other all-spicey flavors on some apples and currants. Granville Moore’s would be much better off if they followed the example of every suburban housewife preparing for a cocktail party and just baked the damn brie instead of trying to play with the form.
In summation: Granville Moore’s was a bit of a letdown, but not a wasted trip. Their blue cheese mussels are their most popular; Liz doesn’t eat blue cheese and I am generally opposed to combining sea food and cheese, so we didn’t order those, and maybe that was a mistake. But if you find yourself on H St NE looking for a meal, just remember to steer clear of the fried brie.