courtesy of ‘webjedi’
Originally, this Omnivore update was for another topic, which was “Beer above 8%” (and will show up soon), but after taking a look at the menu at Brasserie Beck, the Belgian-styled gastropub downtown, I figured I’d better shift focus.
So you ask, “snails?”, what is the most joked about cuisine when you’re trying to gross-out friends doing as a willing entry here rather than on a dare. I have to honestly admit, if it weren’t for my wife, there would be a lot of things, cuisine-wise, I’d never have tried, and snails (not to be confused with their brethren, “escargot”) would not have been the highest on my list. But, figuring this is a top notch establishment, and an unlimited supply of good beer to wash everything down, I said “what the heck!”. For goodness sake, the meal and establishment share most of name (Gastropod vs. Gastropub).
First off, the presentation is what truly counts. Much in the same way you’d want calamari to come out breaded, Beck’s snails come out on a round crostini, slathered in a rich burgundy flavored sauce. They have the appearance of an exotic mushroom in the sauce… until you snag one on your fork. It doesn’t jiggle or slip as your mind would want to transpose, but rather it does have that unmistakable outline of something evicted from it’s spiraled calcium carbonate home.
Down the hatch it went… and there wasn’t the gag reflex your brain wanted to use, in fact it was rather tasty. The pairing with the crostini added a perfect rough, but airy, texture to accompany the eye fixating snails. The burgundy sauce, however remained the main distraction, as it was too strong and overwhelmed the entire dish, with the reduction of the wine giving it a sour-sweet spin. However, due to this turning out to be a different experience from what I was squeamishly expecting, I’d actually try them again. If you have to whet your appetite between shifts of forking the rest of your fine food on to your, now, highly tuned and subjective palate, my recommendation is to accompany it with an order of Beck’s Belgian frites which come with (insert your Pulp Fiction joke here) three different types of mayonaise. While, in my honest opinion, The Brewers Art in Baltimore has the best frites in the DC Metro area, these come in a close second.
Now, for Brasserie Beck itself, the atmosphere had you thinking you were in a train station. Voluminously high ceilings and ever pervasive (non-working) clocks hung on the walls. The service was excellent, with each waiter patiently explaining the menu and offering up his or her help with recommending a series of items on the menu that best fit your mood or palate. While I did not monopolize the beer sommelier, or cicerone, like our neighbors, the defensive line of the Pittsburgh Penguins (who were in town to spank the Capitals the next day), I still did enjoy their selections. If you don’t feel like going in for a full three to four course meal (of which their desserts are also fabulous), Beck is still a place, and was designed to be the place, to experience great Belgian and European beers. While Bill Catron recently exited his post as cicerone, general manager Thor Cheston has taken his place for the time being, still providing that excellent line up.
1101 K Street, NW, Washington DC, DC 20005