Brasserie Beck has been on our bucket list of restaurants to visit since they first opened back in 2007, yet when Mussel Bar (Robert Wiedmaier’s newest venue) opened down the road from us, the journey took a little longer given the latter’s proximity to our home. Nonetheless, we finally shook off the laziness and had our very first meal at Beck a few weeks ago. We soon realized that we will have to start making that excursion more often.
The timing could not have been more appropriate given that it was Belgian Restaurant Week. This particular Wiedmaier restaurant is more upscale than its Bethesda counterpart in regards to its menu, interior, and service. Mussels are still prominent, but you’re not going to find, say, a Cuban Panini at Beck.
After surveying the expansive beer menu, I ordered a traditional Bavik Pils while Rachel got the St. Bernardus Pater 6. With the smorgasbord of Belgian brews to choose from, it certainly sounds like a great place for happy hour (half price drafts from 5-7pm), let alone lunch or dinner. Not that Mussel Bar doesn’t provide that option, but Montgomery County’s draconian beer laws certainly don’t help in the wallet department.
We started our evening off with the steak tartare. Nearly the size of a hockey puck, it was anything but stiff. The meat was very tender, but I was even more enamored with the presentation what with the variety of colors found on the plate. Topped with a slice of toasted brioche and a fried egg, it was a very enjoyable first course. My only beef (no pun intended) was that there was a little too much emphasis on the red onion, so much that it nearly overwhelmed the flavor of the beef.
Rachel also ordered a large roasted beet salad which was accompanied with goat cheese, caramelized walnuts, and mixed greens. She remarked that it was one of the prettiest salads she has ever laid her eyes on. Oh, and it also tasted rather good for those that were curious…
For our main course, Rachel and I decided to split two entrees. We of course had to get an order of mussels, but we also wanted to try one of their other dishes as well. We ultimately settled on the veal Bolognese mussels and a half-order of the braised lamb pappardelle. We felt that this would be a suitable amount of food for the two of us as well as have an opportunity to explore Beck’s menu.
First, let’s get to the mussels: they were simply terrific. While Brasserie Beck does not allow you to take mussels home with you, is there a policy of just wrapping up the broth to-go? I would buy that stuff by the pint. The amount of veal found in the sauce was incredible. Mind you, the mussels themselves were great, but it was the ragu that took them to that next level. I think the server came by at least three times before he could clear my plate just so I could enjoy every last drop of broth.
As for the pappardelle, the homemade noodles were excellently cooked and were very delicate. The braised lamb was succulent while the accompanying tomatoes, peas, and onions helped balance the dish. I wouldn’t have minded a thicker sauce, but given that we just had veal Bolognese by the spoonful, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Once we finished our entrees, we were so full that we were ready for the check. Unbeknownst to us, our meal wasn’t done yet. Our server brought over a Belgian chocolate torte (special for Belgian Restaurant Week), compliments of the house. After taking one bite, let’s just say it was hard to put the fork down. Topped with roasted plums from Toigo Orchards and drizzled with raspberry sauce, this was one rich, phenomenal dessert.
All and all, we had a great evening at Brasserie Beck. Between the exceptional food and service, it’s hard to imagine that this was just our first visit. Rest assured, we’ll be back for many more meals in the near future.