Jump to content

Mussel Bar & Grille, Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda and Ballston by the Owners of Marcel's


Recommended Posts

Reading this thread from the past was interesting to see how prices went up. I ordered a half dozen raw oysters, half wild Maine, half Lynnhaven Virginia. ($14 for 6, $26 for 12.) The kitchen sent out a half dozen of the Maine only at first, so they gave me a half dozen of the Virginia to follow up. Yay! The Lynnhaven were FANTASTIC with a spritz of lemon and the apple Kasteel Rouge mignonette. I could eat a bazillion of them. According to my bartender, there's a $1/oyster happy hour on Tuesdays. I may have to test that out...

It was fun to read this.  I grew up on the little neck of the Lynnhaven River and used to watch the Keelings out on the sandbars harvesting the oyster beds while I was having breakfast.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once more to Arlington. The mussels were very good. The beer was good, although I'm pretty sure my first glass was not what I ordered. The rest of the meal, not so much. My pork belly appetizer arrived as a nice small plate of beans, which served as a bed for two very small pieces of pork belly. Both pieces fit easily on my fork, and would have made a small mouthful at best. I brought it to the attention of my server, and it was replaced by another dish with three larger pieces. Much more appropriate for a starter, and quite tasty. My braised short rib main dish was dry and a little tough. Nice sauce, but not enough to moisten or flavor the generous portion of meat. The rest of the dish was edible enough, but disappointing overall. NQD's shrimp and grits was salty and greasy. Service was friendly, but slow and confused.

The restaurant was busy, but not slammed. It's possible that they were understaffed for a Sunday evening, but it's not as if the Monday holiday was a surprise. It's also possible that it was just a bad night. We'll be back, in the hope that they'll bounce back. Had this been our first visit we probably wouldn't return.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I"m qutie disappointed in my lunch today and since I was very much looking forward to it.

I started with the crawfish pepperpot soup.  To me, it tasted like crawfish and pepper were added to Campbell's vegetable soup.

I also ordered the scallop salad.  While the salad was very nice, the scallops tasted off.  Because I didn't eat my soup, I felt a little guilty about disliking the salad too so didn't send it back.  The soup was taken off my check and the staff were very nice about it.

The fries and related dipping sauces were quite naice.

I will return to try the mussels and because I enjoyed appetizers on my first visit, I suspect I will also return to the bar.   Perhaps this is a place best for drinking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I meant to post this before but life . . .

I celebrated a significant birthday here almost 2 weeks ago.  While I did not organize the event, my dear friend did and said the management was amazing - over the top helpful.  There were about 40 or so people around the bar tables that were reserved for us.  No complaints, no hassles.

As for the food, I never sat down to eat a meal but things were passed to me during the night - the parmesan tater tots, some excellent mussels and really good bread (my cousin was ensuring that I wouldn't be too sloshed - hence, the bread. It worked).

I love the setting and the proximity to my house - I plan to visit on a regular night soon.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to Mussel Bar in Ballston on New Year's Day. Part of my goal for this year is to eat better - not just necessarily nutritionally, though I'm working on that, but also avoiding eating "lazy" food just because. Thus, I skipped eating at somewhere like BW-3 (which has made me kind of queasy anyways lately as I stop eating as much fried food) or World of Beer (which mostly just appears to be stock Sysco products, but can be tasty when you're drunk).

I didn't get the name of my male bartender (the other bartender was my usual from Hard Times - Kelly, I think her name is, I *always* forget it and it drives me up the wall) but he was...distracted, mostly. I ended up having two beers over the course of dinner but it would've been at least one more if he'd paid more attention.

(It may have been a similar problem as she mentioned - she'd closed New Year's Eve, and then been back to work all day until close New Year's Day. She looked exhausted...)

I started off with the caesar salad. I was trying to avoid the bread that came with it (small steps) but while it was good, it was so pungent and strong with both dressing and the whole anchovies that I needed a bite of bread regularly for it. Oh well, small sacrifices. I could've used maybe half as much dressing, or a bit more than that, but it was still good, just strong.

I had the special of the day for dinner - a pork shank with blackeyed peas. Both were quite good; the pork was almost falling off the bone, just needing a slight tug to come off in big, delicious pieces, juicy and great. The blackeyed peas were also quite good, but like the french fries, came in a MASSIVE order, that combined with the big hunk of pork meant I had no way of possibly finishing it.

All in all it was a good meal, and while a bit pricey worth it. I thought about sticking around for another beer but they looked to be closing down around me, so I went home and pretty much immediately passed out due to fullness.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went to the Betheda location last night to celebrate my Birthday with my wife and 23 year old son.  We were all very happy with the service, the food and the beer.  I had the Thai Mussels, my wife had Salmon and son had short ribs.  We were all very happy with our selections as well as the appitizers.  Felt it was a place we should have gone to before and will be back.  I live in Rockville/North Potomac and much better then what I can find closer to home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went to Ballston location on Friday for lunch and enjoyed it.  I've been a few times before and was never quite as impressed as I was Friday. For starters I had the beet salad, which was perfect's well dressed and balanced.

My two dinning companions had mussels. The Thai was very good and just spicy enough.  I didn't try the other b/c it wasn't that kind of lunch date. I had the roasted trout which was served with green beans on top.  While I thought it delicious I did think it has a tad too much oil on it but this is a complaint I"ve made before about fish on DR and i noticed that others disagree with me on that point.

The sweet potato fries and dipping sauce were also out of this world. Really, really good.  As always the service was friendly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We went Friday night to the Ballston location.  We had beers at the bar.  It was pretty loud and bustling, but not like we couldn't hear each other or others, just pretty busy.  Our bartender was fantastic, so nice.  Matt got parpadelle noodles, I didn't taste them.  I had the provencal mussels, which were really good, lots of mussles, good size, but a touch over salted, which was made more pronounced when eating them with the fries.  Not like inedible, just as I was eating the dish longer I could taste it more.  It was also the first time I tried eating anything with cream in it for a long time so I could just not be used to that taste, but I think they were salty.  But it wasn't to the point I wouldn't go back.  I was a bit surprised how busy this place was on a Friday night.     

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mussel Bar is clearly a successful franchise. The one in Bethesda is always busy. Our experiences there have been mixed over time so that we don't go as often as we might. But I have had some decent meals there. It's no Brabo but, then again, it isn't supposed to be and isn't priced like it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once more to Arlington. The mussels were very good. The beer was good, although I'm pretty sure my first glass was not what I ordered.

I had the opposite problem as agm: the beer and mussels were both very good, but the mussels were not what I ordered.

This evening, I went into the Ballston Mussel Bar & Grille, in the old Bob Peck Chevrolet building, on which they retained that classic diamond-rimmed arc, and even have a plaque on the sidewalk - many thanks to all involved for keeping some of the original character of that classic building. The bar is full of happy-hour activity from 5-7 PM, with notable - but not huge - discounts given on beer and wine - these prices are fairly expensive, so their discounted prices are still fairly substantial money-makers for them, especially given the added volume.

Sticking with drafts Troí«gs Hopback Amber Ale ($5 at happy hour), I noticed that Mussel Bar had 108 bottles beers and 16 drafts (that is a *lot* of bottled beer!). The Hopback is not all that hoppy, in fact, the "Hops" take something of a "Back" seat (see what I did there?), and this is more of a Scottish Ale - amber-red, but lower in alcohol and even pleasantly mild, but having full flavor (it is, after all, brewed in Hershey, PA).

Also taking note of the $10 half-order of mussels happy hour specials for dinner, I got a half-order of Kennett Square Mushroom Mussels (usually $16), but the runner brought out a different prep: the White Wine Mussels (usually $15), and in retrospect, this was probably my fault; not theirs - he was looking around, trying to figure out whose order it was, and I flagged him down, and he put it in front of me. Well, I'm sorry someone else got my order, but I'm glad I got this - the broth is like a New England Clam Chowder: cream-based, with a *lot* of lemon, a half-head of soft, roasted garlic (sliced horizontally) resting in the bottom-center of the cast-iron skillet, parsley, and presumably some white wine, making for a delicious mussel broth. I made the decidedly foolish decision to try and count my mussels in this half-order to give diners some perspective, and gave up, deciding that there were about 50 mussels - over 4-dozen - and they were very tiny, each mollusk being the size of a large English pea, so the work involved in extracting and eating them was considerable, and even eating non-stop, it took me about 15-20 minutes to get through the order, not that I was complaining. I prefer small-sized shellfish in general, and while these were somewhat on the chew side, so what? For $10, this was a fantastic thing to order - a plate of about 5 slices of freshly heated bread showed up about ten minutes into my meal, and I immediately placed them into the broth to begin saturation, then flipped them after several minutes - they served as oyster crackers, and they served me well.

The only problem with this meal was the service - it's a noise-box, just like so many other bomb shelters in North Arlington, and there were several distinct problems in communicating my needs - my second beer, for example, and when I finally got around to needing the check, I became The Invisible Man, having to wait several minutes before I even got any eye contact. It got to the point where I picked up my receipt, credit card in hand, and held it up to my chest so that anyone casting even the slightest glance would see the situation. I didn't do this in any sort of aggressive fashion (I hate diners at bars who are aggressive in trying to get bartenders' attention, essentially butting in line); but I decided it was the only way I'd be noticed, and even *that* didn't work, as it took a couple of minutes even after assuming that position - the bartenders were off chatting with customers, or doing other things, and it was probably just a coincidence that nobody walked by during that seemingly interminable slice of time.

Nevertheless, I ordered according to the strength of this restaurant: happy-hour draft beer and happy-hour mussels, and so I got the biggest bang for the buck, rather than something another diner might find during non-happy-hour times and prices. My advice is to go here between 5-7 on weekdays, and order exactly what I did - you'll be pleased. I turned down the slight up-sell of frites or sweet-potato fries, figuring the bread would be sufficient starch, and I was right - I also saw both the frites and sweet-potato fries on the way in, and they looked extremely greasy, and rather unappealing.

So you can consider this a good review of Mussel Bar & Grille, but also a review that happened to play into the restaurant's strengths. Parking is readily available in the garage on either side of N. Glebe Road (but not the back side) for $2 an hour - the restaurant is right on the corner of N. Glebe Rd. and Wilson Blvd. - make sure to remember your ticket, as it's an un-manned garage, and you'll need to pay at the pay stations at the bottom of the elevators, which shoot you right up near the entrance of the restaurant, which, by the way, has a very pleasant patio on the N. Glebe Rd. side.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was there on Saturday night and you're right - the noise is quite noticeable.  We started at the bar and I chatted with the bartender, who is leaving in a month.  And another bartender I knew there also recently left (both departing for geographic reasons and following the chef to Salamander).

I had a Bell's Oberon at the bar, one of my favorite beers, and the calamari, which I always get.  I love it.

When we sat down, the hostess seated us at the very last booth because we asked for a quieter location, and she was spot on - this is the place to sit if you want less noise. I had the Kennett Square pizza but also tasted my friends' mussels (white wine) and turbot (perfectly cooked and very tasty).

I think we ate our weight in bread.

Shared two bottles of the viognier - easy to do at $38 a bottle.

Only problem, which was no one's fault, was the torrential rains that started to leak through the sidewalk to the inside of the restaurant.  There was a continuous puddle on the floor at the opening of our booth.  They were very apologetic but, given the amount of rain Saturday night, I doubt there was anything they could do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Only problem, which was no one's fault, was the torrential rains that started to leak through the sidewalk to the inside of the restaurant.  There was a continuous puddle on the floor at the opening of our booth.  They were very apologetic but, given the amount of rain Saturday night, I doubt there was anything they could do.

Yeah? Well ... on Saturday night, I was lying in *my bed* and it started raining on me through the ceiling, and I'm not even on the top floor. Seriously!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Took Grandma to the Ballston location as it came up as 25% off (weather bonus) on my SpotLuck spin and hadn't heard of it and we will be going back.

Open feel with open view of kitchen was great - though I'm guessing could get quite loud if crowded (We went at 5pm Sunday night)

Great beer selection with a create your own flight option.

We started with East Coast Oysters - good, but a few shell bits so not prefect, nice option on sauses.

Warm hard crust bread served up Grandma rated VERY GOOD.

She had the Lobster Mac & Cheese and wants to go back to have it again.

I had the Scallop and Cauliflower (Still on evil diet for another week, so didn't get to try Grandma's food, they were able to easily tell me if dish had butter/cream)

Then she had brownie in skillet with Ice Cream for dessert - perfect consistency.

I had coffee - served in small french press - a bit to much of a bitter blend for me without cream (see diet)

I have been explaining the map feature of the car (Garmin type) and as we left Grandma said 'No can we tell the map to remember this place so we can come back'

Accessibility:

There is a ramp or two stairs down so very easy, the restrooms are single rooms and the handicap room was plenty big.  Well light, friendly staff that fussed over Grandma, we were able to park on that block (though we parked by the back door not the front, they let us leave thru the back door).

I love it when a random-izer app gives me a great discount and finds me a restaurant I like (Especially like that SpotLuck shows me menu)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great post, Star (I encourage everyone to scroll up and read the whole thing). I love your "Grandma Reports," but you should make them an "official section" in each of your posts. They're both hilarious in their subtlety, and extremely useful to people at the same time. They're hilarious because you (as far as I can tell) originally had no intention of them being hilarious.

Took Grandma to the Ballston location as it came up as 25% off (weather bonus) on my SpotLuck spin and hadn't heard of it and we will be going back.

Accessibility:

There is a ramp or two stairs down so very easy, the restrooms are single rooms and the handicap room was plenty big.  Well light, friendly staff that fussed over Grandma, we were able to park on that block (though we parked by the back door not the front, they let us leave thru the back door).

I love it when a random-izer app gives me a great discount and finds me a restaurant I like (Especially like that SpotLuck shows me menu)

This Mussel Bar also has validated (reduced-price, if I recall) garage parking if you turn down 9th Street from N. Glebe, and enter the garage from that side of the building. If you miss the turn, take a right on Wilson, a right on Wakefield, and a right on 9th, and the garage will be on your right, just before you hit Glebe again. This will be very clear from these maps:

Here's an aerial view - 9th Street is that little squiggly road on the north side of the (oddly shaped, white-roofed) building: post-2-0-67158900-1457966828_thumb.png

And a street view of the intersection of N. Glebe Road and 9th Street - the garage is those two ports to the right of where the man in the yellow shirt is standing: post-2-0-97203000-1457966844_thumb.png

I don't know what SpotLuck is - could you start a thread about it in the News & Media Forum?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went here again a few weeks ago. Mussels are solid and all. I wish I could pick the aioli I want for the frites (they bring you three and they are all different - I want to tell them that I want three little things of this one particular aioli - maybe I will ask next time).

Anyway, what I think is worthy of mentioning is their pretty extensive beer list. Worth a look.

On 7/21/2016 at 11:28 AM, mtureck said:

I was thinking about going here...haven't been for a while and was in the mood for mussels...and looked at their website, only to find that their mussels are now $24. $25 with fries.

No thank you.

Actually, the half portion is pretty huge and reasonable at $14 I think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went Monday evening to the Ballston location with my in-laws, and it was a nice dinner.  Service was a bit slow, but our waitress was very nice.  I got the steak frites, the steak was absolutely perfect and I like the two sauces with the steak.  BUT my big rub with this dish was, they asked you to choose salad or fries.  Now, the dish comes with a very small little line of greens, but they didn't say that and it really isn't a lot.  I would much prefer to be able to have half salad, half fries than to choose.  And if you ordered a side of fries, with a salad, the small pile of greens and steak it would just be so much food.  It just didn't make sense. Why not eliminate the small greens that aren't enough for a salad and add a salad, or add more greens so it is actually a salad, so you have both.  I also had an optimal wit.  I didn't try anyone else's food- trout, burger, another order of steak frites (with fries so I could steal some).  But everyone was pretty happy with their dishes.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well in a short period of time I was at Mussel Bar again, mainly because Water and Wall is no longer open for lunch and I didn't know that until I pulled up.  So quick change of plans.  As a note they don't validate parking for lunch, only after 6 pm, but I parked for only $2.  I split the provencal mussels with a friend and sweet potato fries and then also had a small kale salad on the side.  The mussels were really good and I loved the sauce- well worth the dairy pill.  My friend didn't eat bread, but I gloriously dipped into a lot of sauce with some good bread.  (I would rather have bread than fries with my mussels anyday.)  I am not a huge fan of sweet potato fries, I find them all a bit mushy, no matter who prepares them.  The salad was good- not as good as that kale caesar at Family Meal or Texas Jack's though, but it was fine.  Our waiter was very good at getting things to us quickly so we both could get back to work on time.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We went to the Ballston location for the first time, surprising since we are walking distance from there.  Last night, we drove because of the rain and after a struggle found parking on the street.  We entered and right away saw the sign that said free parking in the garage.  Oh well--next time maybe.  Service was great, place was hopping.  Food, however, was hit or miss.  Oysters rockefeller was the special app last night and I could not resist although it cost $13.  I should have resisted.  All I tasted was romano (I think) cheese.  Didn't taste spinach, didn't taste oyster.  I could feel the oysters and they were incredibly small as if someone had cut an oyster into thirds and spread them into the shells.  My husband's head-on shrimp was just okay.  Steak frite was better and my husband liked his short rib pasta dish (except for what he called the horseradishy taste).  If we go back it will be for the main dishes and, despite it having an oyster bar, avoid the oysters.

Capture.PNG

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We went to Mussel Bar in Ballston with my BIL who was up this past weekend for Hubby's birthday.  We were trying to figure out where to eat at about 8pm on Friday night and it was Hubby's choice, as Hubby and BIL wanted to drink a few beers and like their selection.  We waited about 15 minutes for a table, which wasn't bad at all as it seemed pretty busy.  Hubby had steak frites again, BIL had a burger and I had the mussels with sausage and goat cheese.  I had come from the gym and was starving, so I ate the whole portion of mussels and fries by myself.  They were good, but their other combinations are better IMHO, especially the provencal (I just didn't want to have to worry about the cream, which seems to be the lactose my system tolerates the least).  They are really a large portion- and I like the fries with them, these were a little spicy, no mussles unopened and they all seemed to be about medium size- no huge ones, but no tiny ones either.  I thought they were well prepared.  Hubby really likes their steak frites and doesn't often stray from that now.  The burger seemed fine, but the plating made it look very small in comparison to our two quite large plates.  BIL didn't seem to have complaints.  We don't normally veer off some standard items here, so I am not a great judge of their overall menu.  The mussels and steak frites though seem pretty solid.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went to Mussel Bar with the Momma as a thank you for watching Max over our trip.  She got mussels provencal and brussels on the side.  I ate some of the brussels which were done very nicely.  I got a pizza, I found it a little overly rich, it needed perhaps some argula with lemon on top, some sort of acid component, but it wasn't bad in any way, it was better eaten with some brussels.  I forget what MK had, we were pretty jet lagged still.  I do think here, obviously, the mussels are where it is at, Mom really liked her order.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had a love/hate relationship with Mussel Bar (Arlington branch) for the last few years.  I've had great meals and poor meals, so I would say they are inconsistent.  Not to mention, I got ripped off twice when their validated parking didn't work.

Anyway, last night we were planning on going to Alta Vista (Mosaic) for RW, but due to the nasty weather, we switched to Mussel Bar to stick closer to home.  Yesterday we had a great meal.  I did the RW week meal of half-pot mussels, pork shank, and cheesecake.  My husband had the kale salad and burger.   Everything was top notch, including the service.  The mussels tasted like they just got pulled out of the sea.  The pork shank was big and flavorful.  The cheesecake was topped with pear sorbet which actually tasted like pear.  I hope I have as good a  meal the next time I come
 
.916440030_smallmussels.JPG.55cd02457179562d0c8594417de9eb48.JPG

small pork.JPGsmall cheesecake.JPG

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...