Tuesday, November 19, 2013

St. Arnold's Mussel Bar Food Review

St. Arnold’s Over-Stuffed Burger with Frites

It's not just mussels at St. Arnold's Mussel Bar at the corner of Connecticut & Ordway. The saintly eatery also sells burgers and the best frites in Cleveland Park (hands down.) Is it any wonder, it's packed every time I drive by?

I have to admit... I went almost two years (St. Arnold's opened in January '12) before realizing they sold burgers. Mid-day burgers (at least good ones) are a rarity around Cleveland Park; and my bro Bob & I couldn't be happier. Here's why. The name alone, St. Arnold's Over-Stuffed Burger instills confidence. So does a choice of cheese, bacon, prosciutto, mushrooms, peppers and onions... all at no extra charge. Kudos as well, for a flaky brioche bun (although I'd prefer mine grilled a bit.)

At $11.50, it's a bit pricier than others; but this burger comes packed with flavor, even before the trimmings. I always add a few things to my ground beef at home (onions, parsley, Worcester sauce, sun-dried tomatoes) but most restaurants shy away from such indulgences. St. Arnold's burger is one of the rare few that adds anything besides salt and pepper. Bravo! Good bacon rounds out a solid entry; although MEDIUM-WELL came dangerously close to WELL-DONE: I'll be sure to order MEDIUM next time, and hope for the best.

As for the frites... OMG, delicious. It's obvious they take the time to "double down" on the frying process, yet another omission for most other places. What a difference it makes though, especially in the crispiness (which can be heard with each bite.) They're also pre-seasoned with salt & pepper; so all you have to do is devour them. I'm pretty good at that. Lastly, you get a lot of 'em... What more can you ask for?

We ordered carry out, and the person on the phone was very nice. It took double the announced time (20 minutes instead of 10) but you can't argue with the results. A tad pricey, but worth every extra penny.

Atmosphere: C+ (It's a small space, but cozy. Loud, when it's busy.)
Burger: B (A bit overcooked, but very flavorful with lots of toppings.)
Fries: A- (Crispiest fries in DC. I could eat a thousand of 'em.)
Service: B-
Value: B
Overall: B (Could improve to B+ next time. I'm a stickler for over/undercooking burgers.)