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Brasserie Beck, 11th and K Street Downtown - Belgian Moules-Frites Specialists with Outstanding Belgian Beers


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There has not been much chatter about Brian McBride's project, I wonder if this is it.

Last night we took clients for dinner at Beck. A big mistake I won't make again. Here's why: Service was appallingly slow. It took nearly fifteen minutes to get our wine and then forty five minutes b

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So, what's up with Beck's? It was supposed to be up and running by this point. But the glassy fishbowl of a building that's going to house it s is only now nearing completion. And as for the bistro space itself, I looked through the door today, and it's basically just an empty shell -- albeit one filled with blueprints, contractor types, etc. Anybody heard any updates from Chef Wiedmaier?

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So, what's up with Beck's? It was supposed to be up and running by this point. But the glassy fishbowl of a building that's going to house it s is only now nearing completion. And as for the bistro space itself, I looked through the door today, and it's basically just an empty shell -- albeit one filled with blueprints, contractor types, etc. Anybody heard any updates from Chef Wiedmaier?

April.

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Lots of good stuff to look forward to in a well designed space; they even have a coffee bar! I don't have time to go into great detail but we ate some pretty good stuff last night. I don't see myself ever ordering wine here; the beer list has too many good selections to pass up ever and what I drunk last night match well with the food.

Country Pate (served with some really good pearl onions)
Shrimp Croquettes (wait until you see the size of these)
Fried Skate with spinach (this was so good)
French Fries, served with three mayos (the curry mayo was out of this world)
Potato Gratin (will put all others to shame), for an additional $4 you can have this with pork belly!
Duck Breast (very good) - I forget what this dish was called

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The tap list, courtesy of a buddy of mine who went last night:

Bavik

Popperings Hommel Ale

Saison Dupont

Houblon Chouffe

Bacchus

Delirium Tremens

Gouden Carolus Tripple

De Koninck

Hoegaarden

Chimay-Cing Cents

Sam Adams-Boston Ale

Hommel and Houblon on tap? nice. Supposedly they have some nice bottles too. Will be heading there ASAP to check it out.

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I got to sample the Kwak last night.....outstanding! It's $19 a bottle. :blink:
what sized bottle? that's rediculous. That better be a half gallon for that price. And yes, I've had it. And yes, it's good, but I'll take 4 DeKonik's for that price.
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what sized bottle? that's rediculous. That better be a half gallon for that price. And yes, I've had it. And yes, it's good, but I'll take 4 DeKonik's for that price.

LOL. It was the size of a wine bottle i believe.

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what sized bottle? that's rediculous. That better be a half gallon for that price. And yes, I've had it. And yes, it's good, but I'll take 4 DeKonik's for that price.

$19 for a 750ml of any decent belgian is a totally reasonable price.

The Scaldis Prestige looks amazing, and at $70 for a 750ml, is probably the equivalent of a whole bunch of DeKoninck price-wise.

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Last night was Beck's first "official" night. I was told that they purposely did not seat all tables so as to make things a bit easier on the staff.

The beer list has already been posted so no need to comment on that. I started with the DeKoninck but switched to the Bavik (which is everything I've ever wanted in a pilsner!). The wine list is lengthy with many by the glass. I am a wine idiot so I'll leave to someone else also.

From a design point of view, probably the most striking feature of Beck's is the open kitchen. It's VERY open - smack dab in the middle of the restaurant and completely open on one side. A second side (facing the bar) is clear glass. A third side, facing the main dining area, is opaque. Opposite the open side of the kitchen is a large table which seats ten. This is the chef's table and is available for groups of 8 or more for $75/pp ($100/pp with beer/wine pairings).

Another noteable feature are the multitude of large clocks (they remind me of something you might see in an old train station). None of them show the correct time and half of them aren't even running. How much you like them will probably depend on how often you look at them and notice that time has stood still. I found it annoying but YMMV. There's also a display case near the hostess station which features their fresh and house cured seafood. The ceilings are very high and the whole place has a very "classic" and bright look to it. I keep finding myself going back to a bistro you might find in one of the nicer European train stations.

OK - on to food. They started us off with apologies for making us wait in the bar area for about 20 minutes and then another 10 at our table before we were given menus. We ordered a charcuterie plate as a shared appetizer. I ordered the mussels with fennel and chorizo while Lisa went with the seared salmon in fennel sauce. We got a bread basket with about a third of a very hot and fresh baguette. It's probably frozen bread that is finished in the restaurant and was great, especially with the softened sweet butter. We munched on that, along with the immense charcuterie plate. It came on basically a small pizza board, with about half a pound of thinly sliced prosciutto, a quarter of a pound of salumi, a country pate that was likely pork and pistachios wrapped in bacon, one hard boiled egg, and a small selection of pickles. For $22, it was a great deal and we were basically stuffed after working our way through it. Honestly - you could add another small plate or side to that and you'd have a great meal for two.

Our mains arrived along with a manager who apologized that they were out of mussels and that a communication mixup had only brought this to our waiter's attention just now. Ooops. They offered to expedite another dish of my choice and said it would be on the house. But given that we were on our way to a show, and that we were already pretty much full, we said we'd just share Lisa's salmon. The manager got me another Bavik on the house and we setttled into our shared salmon, which was nicely seasoned and placed atop a braised sliced of fennel. They asked Lisa how she wanted it done (which you don't hear too often for fish) and she said medium-rare. I thought it was much more to the medium side of things but I guess everyone has a different standard on these things. It was about an 8oz portion of salmon and very tasty. Lisa ordered a side of caramelized brussel sprouts which weren't caramelized so much as they were scattered with cheese (swiss? gruyere??) and then browned. Tasty but more on the nutty/salty side rather than sweet.

No time for desserts as we were off to the 9:30 Club.

For a busy first night, we were pleased. Yes, there were service snafus and we didn't really get to try the signature dishes (no frites?? what were we thinking???). But there are lots of great selections on the menu and we enjoyed what we did have. The most expensive item on the menu is the charcuterie plate at $22. Most mains are in the $17 range. There are some more expensive beers but I thought $5.50 for my Bavik was a great price for a DC restaurant. We'll definitely be back.

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Here is how serious they must be taking their beer - their Beer Menu is up on their publicist's website, but not their food menu.

Not bad, but I'd like to see some Cantillon and good examples of American takes on Belgian-style beers on the list, too (Victory Golden Monkey, Allagash's entire lineup, Ommegang, and Russian River immediately spring to mind). But anyplace that makes a commitment to carrying Saison Dupont and Houblon on draft piques my interest.

I'm hoping I'll have good reason to go there and celebrate something in a few weeks.

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I stopped by for lunch today. Great looking menu (rabbit! choucroute! carbonnades!), and pretty reasonably priced. The most expensive main is the steak at $22, and the priciest starter is the steak tartare for $16. Desserts are $7. I had the pea soup with veal cheek meatballs ($11, lighter than it sounds) and juicy housemade lamb sausage with lentils and frisee ($12). There are at least 20 whites on the wine list for $25 or under, and at least that many reds at $30 or under. And of course the beer list is excellent for a Belgian lover like me.

Lovely bar space with friendly and polished service from the bartender, Colleen. Chef Weidemaier made a point of saying hello and seemed to be overseeing smooth communication between the FOH and BOH. Lots of little service flourishes (soup poured into your hot bowl from a little copper pot, nice coffee presentation), but nothing seems stilted or forced.

I can see us spending a lot of time here.

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Another early report from Beck's...stopped in for lunch with Gus today. We shared the mussels in white wine sauce, really plump and fresh mussels. The fries and accompanying dipping sauces were great too- very crispy fries. Curry was our favorite dipping sauce. The bibb lettuce and beet salad had a nice piquantly mustardy dressing. The fried skate with spinach was very well prepared, crisp on the outside but very moist inside. The only miss was the shrimp croquette which was too thickly breaded and did not have any shrimp flavor.

The "beer nerd" (that's how he described himself- there must be a nicer term than that?) recommended a Gouden Carolus Tripple. I don't usually drink at lunch since I turn really red but since the boss is gone today I figured why not :blink: it was an excellent suggestion.

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The "beer nerd" (that's how he described himself- there must be a nicer term than that?)

I favor "beer manager" for someone in his position, but I guess maybe self-deprecation gets better tips? I've also heard "beer sommelier" which I like because of the connotation of pairing skill that it brings, but dislike for the fact that it just sounds like a more formal title, achieved by formal training.

At least he didn't self-apply "beer geek".

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I had lunch at Beck's yesterday: frisee salad and beef carbonnade. The salad was similar to the one at Central in that it had the customary poacked egg on top and was larded with lardons. Tastey. My only complaint is that after the salad and a piece of bread, I didn't have a whole lot of room left for the entree, which is too bad because it was delicious. The beef was well braised in Chimay beer and was served atop a helping of mashed root vegatables and topped wiith a dollop of Ghent mustard. The mustard added a sharp contrast to the beer-braise sauce. What was unique in my experience was my drink; I ordered the lemonade. It came with a small pitcher of simple syrup whichh allowed the diner to control the sweet/sour level. A very nice touch. We also had a bowl of the frites which, as reported above came with three different mayonaises, and like some others above, I liked the curry one the best. (Perhaps it was the frites which prevented me from eating all my carbonnade).

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We may be eating lunch there Monday. Think they'll get all Gallic in our grill if we ask for ketchup instead of mayo?
Their Belgian, not French so I don't know how Gallic they are likely to get on you. It's not like Cafe du Parc where everyone is FOB. And I don't know if they even have ketchup; but if they do, I suspect their response will be "right away sir."
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We may be eating lunch there Monday. Think they'll get all Gallic in our grill if we ask for ketchup instead of mayo?

This is Robert Weidmaier, who used to stock a six-pack of Bud behind the bar for one regular at Marcel's purely out of respect for his guests...

I'm sure he is understanding and gracious enough to carry ketchup for the hordes of American palates that can't have fries without it.

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a small pitcher of simple syrup

So that's what that was. I poured my iced tea, wondered about the little pitcher alongside it, but then forgot about it and never asked (since I dislike sweetened iced tea, I wouldn't have used it even if I had identified it). I won't take up extra space by reiterating Gnatharobed's comments in detail (the upshot: Friday lunch very tasty, only 'miss' was the shrimp croquettes), but will just add that the service was excellent and our waiter was very knowledgeable - particularly impressive considering it was the first week. Also, it's definitely possible to have lunch on the (relative) cheap - we easily would have had enough to eat if we'd shared just the mussels and salad (which would left the bill at well under $20 each).

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Decided to go for dinner on Friday night and we were able to snag a table as a walk-in, which was lucky for us as the bar was packed. I really wish the bar space was bigger as I really want to hang out there and drink through some of the great beers that they have available.

Started with orders of pate and brandade. Both were very good, but I enjoyed the brandade more. Choucroute "En croute" is a must order. White sausage, sauerkraut, smoked pork belly, and a hard boiled egg wrapped in pastry crust and baked. The mussels were the biggest I have seen and tasty. Someone must look them over before sending them out as there was not a single bad one in the pot. BTW, the portions are not small. A meal for two can easily be made out of 3-4 apps.

Simply put, great food and great prices, I will return!

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The mussels were the biggest I have seen and tasty. Someone must look them over before sending them out as there was not a single bad one in the pot.

Large, uniformly sized mussels scream farm-raised, despite being labeled "Prince Edward Island" or what-have-you. I haven't done the wild-versus-farmed mussel analysis en completio, at least not yetio, but I suspect it's only at the highest heights where wild mussels would be a better product in Washington, DC. (Can anyone with proper knowledge make a comment?)

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Note for anyone who calls Directory Assistance and asks for "Beck's": you won't find a listing. It's under the restaurant's proper name "Brasserie Beck." I know because I left my blazer either there or in a cab Friday night and when I tried to call about it, I couldn't get a listing initially.

Regarding the food and beer, Brasserie Beck made a great first impression. The service at the bar was pretty much what you'd expect from a spot that just opened and was slammed with eager beavers checking the place out: friendly, but sometimes absent. My friends and I didn't have a full meal, just a selection of snacks including the delicious potato gratin with pork belly and the large charcuterie platter. I didn't try the cured salmon, however it was my friend's favorite dish of the night.

We had two desserts - a not-sweet-enough bread pudding (and as a group, we usually find this dish to be too sweet at most places; at Beck it was near savory) and a very delicious pear tarte tatin.

I'm very excited to get back for a full meal. The prices are gentler than some of the new spots I have frequented of late and the menu offers tons of enticing choices.

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Large, uniformly sized mussels scream farm-raised, despite being labeled "Prince Edward Island" or what-have-you. I haven't done the wild-versus-farmed mussel analysis en completio, at least not yetio, but I suspect it's only at the highest heights where wild mussels would be a better product in Washington, DC. (Can anyone with proper knowledge make a comment?)

Cheers,

Rocks.

I don't think anyone uses (or sells) wild mussels, excepting those of us who are occasional "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" types. The rope cultured mussels from Prince Edward Island are ubiquitous, and for good reasons. They don't have any sand in them, and because of the ropes they are grown on, the animal doesn't have to put a lot of energy into hanging on, so the "beards" --their means of attaching themselves to rocks in the wild-are minimal or non-existant. It takes very little effort to clean a rope-cultured mussel, and it's a lot of work to clean wild ones. Also, the water quality where they are grown is excellent and carefully monitored. And very cold, which makes for tastier shellfish. It's fun to gather wild mussels at low tide in Maine, and cook them over a campfire. It's also a crapshoot, because they are filter feeders, and the water quality anywhere along any inhabited coast is potentially contaminated. For commercial applications, the farmed ones make more sense.

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Note for anyone who calls Directory Assistance and asks for "Beck's": you won't find a listing.

No shit, as I found out last night when I cabbed to 12th & L, thinking it was there, finding nothing, and then wandering around like a vagrant for twenty minutes before breaking down and calling 411 and still coming up empty.

And then tonight I went there and it was closed (as was Kaz), although there was a photographer outside taking some long-perspective shots.

Cheers, sneers, and no beers, at least not this weekend at Beck's, but at least I'm trying!

Rocks.

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