Yesterday evening was the official opening of Mussel Bar in the Bethesda Row of downtown Bethesda, Maryland.Â This is Chef/Proprietor Robert Wiedmaier‘s first restaurant on the Maryland-side of the Washington, DC metropolitan area, in addition to his celestial Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck of DC and BRABO/Tasting Room/Butcher’s Block of Alexandria, Virginia.Â My dining companion and I arrived only a few minutes past the proposed opening time of 6pm when the bar had already been filling up!Â We do not eat musselsâ€”except for brothâ€”so the natural question would be, â€œWhy would you go to a restaurant that stars mussels and NOT order mussels?â€
The answer is plain and simple: Chef Wiedmaier, one of DC’s star chefs.Â While some of DC’s other chefs may be more flamboyant, Chef Wiedmaier is an unpretentious talent whose emphasis is preparing outstanding food made from the best ingredients, utilizing classical techniques, and accompanying them with sincere and courteous hospitality set in elegant ambiance.Â Last night, his dedication to excellence was on display as he was carefully inspecting every dish that left the kitchen (including smelling the aroma of the mussel dishes), placing the finishing touches on certain dishes, and supervising his waitstaff as well.
Mussel Bar is Chef Wiedmaier’s Belgian version of the increasingly popular gastropub.Â You will find an international array of preparations for mussels as well as frites, beers, grilled steaks/salmon, salads, sandwiches, and wood-fired tarts/pizzas.Â From our experience on opening night, the wood-fired tart/pizza was the big winner as a big surprise.Â We were truly impressed, finding them to be on-par with the best pizzas we experienced here in DC and in New York City.Â Mussel Bar is indeed more than just mussels: from the name alone, you would never be able to guess that it is a great place to enjoy gourmet pizzas.
Congratulations to Chef Wiedmaier on a great debut in Maryland!Â Now, if he can only bring the Butcher’s Blockâ€”my favorite place to buy beef and Prosciuttoâ€”to this side of DC.Â 😉
Enjoy the mussels, the beer, and of course, the wood-fired tarts!