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Aug 26, 2007 07:12 AM

brasserie beck: a humble review

so we hit the beck last night. good atmosphere, not too loud, and nice tall booths. started with the mussels in curry and apple. delicious! perfect to share for 4, and enough bread to sop up the best part in the pan. our server showed us that the best way to get the mussel out was to use a shell itself. nice.
the oh my....complex? subtle? amazing? yes, yes, and yes. we learned that the beer "sommolier"(?) would be knighted in brussels next week. after the nights drinking, we knew why. i know that everyone pumps up this list, but it truly is a tasteful list. and our server knew what brew went with what food. spot on.
main courses were the duck congolese, and my party had the beef carbonnade and the pork dish en croute.
the duck was delicious. every flavor our server described was present, and the cous cous was a perfect compliment. i highly recommend.
the beef carbonnade (from the bite or two that i had) was tasty, but came out more like a glorified beef stew....which i have no problem with :)
finally, the pork dish failed i.m.h.o. really lacking any "prescence" in the taste category, this dish may as well have offered a crescent roll and saved any other complication.

i was slightly surprised by the portion sizes. the mussels surely were not much of a filler, but the entrees were hefty in size. i am not complaining at all, but when it came time for dessert, it was a difficult choice.

but one that had to be made. two of got the pear tarte with cinammon ice cream. MARVELOUS. my favorite part was the way some of the elements had carmelized, giving an almost candy feel to it. overall, it was silly good.
the gataeu chocolate piece was, well, dense, they arent messing around there, and its going to take you a couple bites before its too much, aside from the true chocolate believers.
the special were the waffles, with some fresh fruit/jam on top. to be honest, after my dessert, trying them was an afterthought, although fresh fruit and fresh waffles are difficult to destroy. decent to pretty good. but get the pear.....

i post this part to give my 2 cents, and part because i am hoping others post a follow up. i tried to do some chow reading before going, and i couldnt find much. anyone out there....

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  1. Nice review. I am relatively new to Chowhound and am constantly amazed which posts get responses. For example there could be 30 responses to "what should I wear to restaurant X," but you could write a detailed review of a new restaurant that 'hounds have been asking about for weeks and get crickets. Gotta love the blogosphere.

    Anyhow, I was actually at Beck's on Friday night too but just for drinks. I work a block away and it is a fantastic addition to the neighborhood. We go frequently for HH to try new selections off their amazing belgian beer list. We have an intern visiting from Belgium and this time she came with us and taught us how to pronounce all the beers and gave us her expert opinion on what was good. Love the Rochefort 8 and the Kwak.

    I only have eaten one real dinner there -- aside from ordering their delicious fries and other apps with drinks-- and was disappointed with their mussels. Although the garlic and white wine broth was bread-sopping good, the mussels were small and gritty. This review gives me hope for another try. Cheers

    2 Replies
    1. re: dzherbst

      The Washington Post reviewed the Beck and they too found the mussels small. Gee, when I had them the first month Beck opened (in the apple/curry sauce, as recommended by the waiter, it's much better than the white wine) they were massive and plump and wonderful. Second time, they were a bit smaller but still better. Wonder if summer isn't mussel season, like oysters?

      1. re: dzherbst

        Oooh that rochefort 8 is indeed something on.

      2. So went to BB last night for SO's sister's birthday.

        First off I don't like beer, but they found a couple I actually could drink, and like, I was really impressed our server brought out some beer that we all loved and even brought me out little samples so I could find something I liked.

        We started with mussels gratin and ham and cheese croquettes. The mussels gratin was incredible. I was sad when I realized I couldn't get the main mussel appetizer because no one else at the table liked mussels, but the mussels gratin were excellent. There was a whole bowl a little bigger than a cup of soup size bowl full of juicy mussels in broth and greens and melted cheese with a little tomato and they were so yummy! The bread was great. The frites and croquettes were good, huge portion could have been a meal. The frites weren't like something I had never had, but they were really good, I liked dipping them in my broth and scooping up some melted cheese.

        I had the duck for my main course and it was really good. Juicy and tender, nice sweet sauce, I loved it. SO had the green peppercorn steak with frites and really enjoyed that. The Sister had coq au vin and I think she liked it. I was impressed that the preperation kept the focus on the cuisine traditional belgium/french preperation. They didn't try to make it really modern, it was just good food. And lots of it.

        I loved the caramel cheesecake for dessert, not as good as goat cheese cheesecake at Palena, but still really good. It even gave tough competition to the cinnamon, honey sorbet which was really good too. And they had written Happy Birthday on Sister's plate and brought a candle with her sorbet, wished her a happy birthday and she was really happy that it was done, but it wasn't over the top. She even took a picture of her plate...

        Our waiter didn't rush us at all, we had plenty of time, but the courses were paced well. Even after everything was consumed, no dirty looks or anything while we lingered a little to enjoy her birthday.

        It isn't Central with light highly prepared, wow, food. But it is good food. It is the type of place I want to go back to, especially on a cold night and just have a nice warm, classically prepared, good meal. And the prices weren't on the high end it was pretty reasonable for Washington. And you certainly could make a meal out of some of their starters. It is friendly. I loved it, SO loved it, we all just had a good time. If I lived there it would be my nieghborhood spot on a lot of nights.

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. We had a wonderful meal at Beck last night. Skipped the mussels since they're everywhere these days and seem to be generally thin. Are they spawning?
            Appetizers are terrific. Silky brandade with a healthy hit of garlic and crispy croutons. Excellent fricassée of mushrooms with poached egg. Good briny West Coast oysters. I thought the quenelles were a little dry but everyone else liked them. The warm bread is house baked and hard not to keep eating.
            Wide selection of Euro standards updated. Instead of having soft skin, the coq au vin is crisped under the broiler as is the duck congolese and the loin of rabbit that we had, making their presentation more contemporary. All had the same deep-flavored satisfying sauces. I'm not a fan of fruit-sauced meats, but the duck was balanced and very successful. Steak was perfectly done. Terrific frites. The Brussels sprouts made us want to clean the plate - tiny in a cheese sauce, topped with fried onion rings.
            We were too full to have dessert but they looked beautiful. Small and very rich. Next time I'll remember to leave room.
            Excellent menu of good European comfort food that made it hard to choose. Many things not seen much on the local scene in recent years. Reason enough for return.
            DR was packed on a Wednesday evening with a largely older crowd, basically suits and well-dressed couples. Some big tables. This is a menu that appeals to them. The bar crowd was a casually dressed, substantially younger group.
            The only problem is a tragically high noise level that only begins to moderate in the rear of the space. Didn't they have an acoustical engineer? In the bar area and front space, it's well beyond the great buzz of diners having a good time. It would be a serious problem for conversation and God help anyone with hearing loss. I've been in quieter train stations and stadiums.