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St. Arnold's Mussel Bar, Moules Frites and Belgian Beer in South Dupont and Cleveland Park


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We have now been twice to this neighborhood spot in Cleveland Park (Connecticut and Ordway, next to Dino's, at the site of the old Park Bench, and after that Sabores) and are thrilled with this addition to our neighborhood! St. Arnold's Mussel Bar serves moules frites, sandwiches, Belgian and Belgian-inspired beer, and brunch. The Cleveland Park location is the second for this enterprise--the first, which I haven't been to, is at 1827 Jefferson Place in south Dupont.

 

For those who remember when this was the Park Bench, the interior space has been spruced up and scrubbed up, but the bar is still in the same spot. The back wall has small tables and benches; the window side has long communal tables with bar stools, effectively extending the sitting-at-the-bar feel across a much greater portion of the space. The huge windows facing onto Ordway are still there and this promises still to be a very pretty spot for daytime or late summer evening excursions.

 

On our first visit we tried the Mussels St. Arnold's and the Mussels & Shrimp. The Mussels St. Arnold's come in a wonderfully satisfying creamy broth with (I'm guessing) caramelized onion, mushroom, wine (or maybe brandy) and garlic flavors. (I'm wrong. I just checked the menu which says "beer sauce." But what I wrote is what it tasted like to me. :) )

 

Mussels and shrimp, eh, I didn't love as much. The shrimp was a little overcooked and the sauce flavors didn't meld quite so much together.

 

Second time around we went with the St. Arnold's again, and also with the Eastern Shore Mussels (Budweiser, Old Bay Corn and Red Potatoes, per the menu, and they also have sausage, which our server noted was a more recent addition by the chef). These were also very good and a nice local flavor combination. Not, however, as good as the St. Arnold's.

 

All the mussel pots are served with bread, fries, ketchup and mayo, and run $18 a pot except Mondays when they are $10.

 

We also split a waffle for dessert, and I think next time I might save that for a brunch visit; it was just a little too much extra heavy food on top of the fries and bread.

 

Service was extremely warm and friendly on both visits. We went with our preschooler and were a little nervous about whether this was more of a bar or a restaurant (which is why we picked a quiet Monday for our first visit), but he was welcomed with crayons and coloring books. On our second visit, our server suggested that if we wanted, she had a soup to-go cup to contain the ample leftovers of the St. Arnold's broth, and recommended tossing it with pasta to make use of the leftovers.

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I'd been meaning to post on St. Arnold's, and the contributions above have reminded me to chime in.

We frequently walk to the Uptown, and St. Arnold's has become one of our small handful of standby dinner options either pre- or post-movie. Service is efficient, the staff are reliably cheerful and accommodating, and they always seem to be open and serving late (although I've never been able to determine their official hours) so you never feel rushed even after a late movie.

We've been at least half a dozen times since they opened, and tried a number of menu items without a dud, but the standout is definitely the Mussel's St. Arnold. I get this almost every time - the duck fat makes the broth unusually rich and luxurious for a mussels dish. More bread is always forthcoming upon request, which is essential to enable one's urge to keep sopping up that broth.

Dave

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I went to the Cleveland Park location earlier this week. Service was a bit wonky. We were seated in the basement where we had one waiter who was also the bartender. Since there was just one waiter working the entire room he had the food runners bringing out all the food and that let to some weird miscommunication and wrong food being delivered to us (we ordered thai mussels and got the old bay ones twice. Lol.) The St Arnold Mussels ( house beer sauce, caramelized shallot, garlic, thyme and duck fat) are definitely my favorite. Thai ones are also good (once we finally got them) 

I wish their Belgian waffle had more of a crispy exterior with a soft interior but other than that it was fine. 

I'd definitely rank this place behind Lyon Hall and Grandville Moore but it's good

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Went to Cleveland Park location last Monday and it was surprisingly busy so we were seated in the basement as well. Likewise, the bartender was the lone server which resulted in less than ideal service. Went for happy hour which is a pretty good deal with $11 mussels and half price wings, onion rings and fries. For mussels we got the alsatian, St Arnolds and paella. St Arnolds were definitely the best. Alsatian uses french fries for the potatoes which I find to be a little lazy, or just say that there will be french fries in the soup for the potatoes on the menu. It was also very light on the bacon this time. Last time at least there were nice large pieces in the pot. The broth on these is also a little think which gets pretty gross as it cools. Paella was nice with some other seafood mixed in and a little bit of rice. Our daughter picked this as her fav. I always like the St Arnolds with a nice broth that is perfect for dipping the bread.

Other dishes were two orders of fries, rings and an order of wings. Fries and rings were great, wings were pretty awful. Wings consisted of several dried pieces which had chunks of meat missing as if they had been scraped from the bottom of the bag.

Had a waffle for dessert which was OK, but not great.

Happy hour beer options were very good and  I had an Ommegang Abby ale.

Generally, I would recommend this for if you can make it for happy hour, but not at the full prices.

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Dupont location - Saturday, about 8pm

Several open bar seats. 2/3 full dining room. How did I not know about this place? As others have said, completely without pretense. Our bartender Lorraine was a sweetheart. Only had appetite for a split order of the house moules frites (Mussels St. Arnold's - Ommegang Abbey, shallots, thyme, and duck fat (!)). Would've like to try some other items, but even now looking at the menu nothing really jumps out at me.

Of course paired with a couple Belgian beers. Got out of there for a song. I'm not really in Dupont very often these days, but this'll be a go to esp. if I need a last-minute spot to meet and/or grab a bite.

 

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St. Arnold's on Jefferson has a great happy hour, too: $11 mussel pots, $5 1⁄2 Liters of Palm, Schofferhofer, Radeberger, and Ommegang Witte.

Their sandwiches are also delicious. Usually I'll split a pot of mussels and a sandwich with a dining companion. 

The service at this location is markedly better than their Cleveland Park location, which is less busy and I believe has a longer happy hour.

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