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St. Arnold Flexs His Mussels

‘m not what most people call “religious”, but I certainly have no qualms about believing in St. Arnold, the Catholic saint of hop-pickers and Belgian brews.

Though there’s been some buzz lately about the bar of the same name opening a second location in Cleveland Park, you can find me sinning on occasion at their Dupont Circle spot and stuffing my face full of mussels, fries, and beer.

The best time to come to this underground hideaway on Jefferson Place is for a hearty lunch, or for their sweet $9.99 mussels happy hour special paired with an impressive selection of Belgian beers on draft.

Even then, this charmingly small bar is always crowded from one exposed brick wall to the other.

Don’t even waste your time trying to read the long list of mussels on the menu. Just order the house mussels and prepare to have your world rocked. You’re welcome in advance.

These juicy, tender mussels are cooked with a house-made beer sauce, caramelized shallots, garlic, and thyme in duck fat. This divine sauce is a perfectly textural base for the shellfish and boasts such an incredible flavor. While dipping your fries and bread into the holy duck-fat water make for a nice treat, I take it a judgment-worthy step further and scoop it into my mouth with a half-shell.  I would even bathe in it.

While mussels are what they do best, try not to overlook the rest of the menu items as there are some winners. The poached pear salad with walnuts and blue cheese over arugula is a simple yet delicious combination of sweet, salty, and bitter and a great way to start your meal. If you’re not full by dessert, try one of the Belgian Liege waffles, which are appropriately crisp on the outside and satisfyingly doughy on the inside.

No matter which St. Arnold’s location you go to, be sure to embrace your gluttonous side and indulge in all the Belgian goodness they have to offer. And seriously, get the duck fat mussels.

Photo: Lisha Yates

St. Arnold’s Mussel BarSt. Arnold’s Mussel Bar
1827 Jefferson Place NW3433 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036Washington, DC 20008

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Lisha Yates

Lisha is a true Virginian, bearing an unhealthy obsession with Smithfield ham and Piedmont wines. Born with an appetite for the worldly, she grew up in her potty-mouthed grandma's soulful kitchen, asked for a bread-maker on her 11th birthday, has lived in Spain, and ate a whole spit-roasted guinea pig in Ecuador.She gets creative with her own cooking, too--like beer-battered shrimp tacos made with Natty Light and pancake mix. When she's not working as a consultant, or hunting for the best cheap eats, Lisha is tweeting her dining endeavors and leisurely whereabouts (or at home eating mac n' cheese, if we're being honest).


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