Mussel Bar, Bethesda, MD

On a third visit to Mussel Bar, I batted 1-for-3 and 3-for-3.

The first time I was ever here, I raved about the Brabo Pils which is their house draft. Then, it was $7.00. The second time I went, the price had dropped to $5.50 and the beer was a shadow of its former self – it was absolutely not the same thing, not even close. I pleaded with them to bring the old beer back. And on the third visit? Same as the damned second visit. It’s still $5.50 and it’s still flavorless and lame. That wonderful, malty marvel is gone, and I divorce myself from this beer (for now).

But the night was saved by bottles of Fuller’s ESB ($7.50).

I wanted to try something different this time, and while this may sound like an odd thing to order here, I got the Pasta Carbonara ($13). It was a big bowl of thick, pasty, round noodles just like you’d get in a Chinese soup, and was really a tasty rendition of this classic dish. What it lacked was salt, and I’m glad it did because when I asked for some, I got a presentation of three different salts – I went straight for the Himalayan which added color as well as texture. And while I was at it, I took a spoonful of butter from my bread basket and threw it in there, too, mixing it all together. No, not a particularly healthy dish, but boy was it satisfying.

So I’ve been to Mussel Bar three times and have yet to have a bad meal (batting 3-for-3 here). Nothing life-changing, but certainly palatable fare at reasonable prices, and a fine beer program to boot. There tends to be a pretty large overlap between my palate and Tom Sietsema’s, but he really slammed this place – what am I missing?

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