As I've mentioned several times up to this point, I am a huge a fan of mussels. To me, there is no better meal than a big bowl of mussels, some good bread to sop up the broth with and a good drink- if you add some outdoor seating to that equation-I'm in heaven. My sister has the same affinity mussels and for years now has been raving about how they are served at The Publick House in the Washington Square area of Brookline. I have been to this spot several times for their huge variety of beers, but have never indulged in their mussels. Since my sister was going to be home for the Easter holiday, we made plans to spend Friday evening there so I could finally try their mussels.
For drinks or food alike, The Publick House is a great spot. It is fashioned like the public brew houses that I remember from my time spent in London, dim lighting and rustic furniture included. I always love these no frills establishments. The decor alone lets you know that you're in for a real experience, good beer and hopefully good food. It has become quite a hot spot around the Brookline area, so when we arrived around 7:30 pm or so on a Friday night, we were informed that our wait would be an hour to an hour and a half. We had anticipated this and so resigned ourselves to fighting through the crowds to the bar to get a couple of beers, Duvals to be exact. I have always enjoyed a really good beer, as well as the occasional "bad" beer, and I have a real soft spot in my heart for places that know the proper glassware to serve different types of beer in, and are knowledgeable about the brew and can make recommendations. The Publick House succeeds on both counts. However, as Id heard great things about Duvals before, yet had never tried it, and because it was just too crowded to engage the bartenders in a discussion, I went with it. It was a good hearty beer with a full head.
Our wait ended up being about an hour, maybe a little over, before we were seated. However once we were, we were greeted by a friendly waiter and set to work choosing our dinner. We decided to start off with stuffed zucchini. This was delicious. A very large zucchini had been hollowed out and stuffed with bell peppers, onions, herbs and a little cheese. It was served over a very lightly dressed arugula salad. I loved the combination of the bitter arugula with the sweater peppers and the light zucchini. I will absolutely be making this for myself soon enough- it was delicious! I then chose to have their Moules Frites pot #2 which are mussels steamed in La Rulles Triple, a beer from the Louxembourg region, with spinach, tomatoes, asiago cheese and finished with garlic bread crumbs, with a cone of french fries on the side. The dish was served in an actual pot which was aesthetically pleasing, but I found that it took away from the flavor of the dish. Much of the broth was at the bottom of the pot and so the first half of the mussels were not soaked in it at all. For this reason, I prefer mussels to be served in a shallow bowl so that the broth can be used almost as a condiment to showcase the different flavors with each bite. So I was a bit disappointed in this. However when I got to the broth it was very tasty and did compliment the mussels well. The fries were light and airy and a very tasty accompaniment.
Our server continued to be friendly throughout the evening and despite the busy nature of the restaurant did not at all rush us to finish our meals, or to leave his table. He was knowledgeable and absolutely added to the experience.
All in all, Publick House will remain to be one of my favorites for good Belgian beer and cuisine. I just wish that they would revise how their mussels are served.
Their website appears to be down currently, however their menu can be found at http://boston.menupages.com/restaurantdetails.asp?areaid=0&restaurantid=9892&neighborhoodid=30&cuisineid=0