Flight of Moules-Frites at The Broken Spoke

Categories: On the Menu

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
It's like Wheel of Fortune with mussels.
Belgian beer connoisseurs know that The Broken Spoke is the place to go for brews that are difficult to find on draft in Houston: Maredsous Brune, Duchesse De Bourgogne, St. Bernardus Prior 8 and Tripel Karmeliet are just a few of the nearly 20 beers that proprietress Catherine Duwez keeps in constant rotation. And fans of mussels know that she often has some of the best in town.

Duwez is smart: She knows that most of her patrons are coming for moules-frites -- the classic combination of steamed mussels and Belgian frites -- and beer. So she recently added several options to the menu for those who want to do a little exploring while they're at the Spoke.

Adventurous diners can now indulge in two different mussels flights for $28 each: La Route de Calais, which offers 18 mussels and six wine samples, or La Route de Bruxelles, which offers 18 mussels with six beer samples. Both come with a generous bowl of frites. La Complet Belge -- moules marinières, frites and a Stella Artois for $25 -- is still on the menu as well, and remains the most popular item.

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Most beers are on draft; only a few are available in the bottle.
Last week, I ordered the flight of mussels on its own -- this knocks a few bucks off the price -- and ordered one Maredsous Brune with my meal. The Belgian beer flight would have to wait for another visit; I wanted to try the flight of mussels uninterrupted.

The flight comes with seven of the eight available varieties of mussels at the Spoke: a l'escargot (with garlic and butter), Provençale (with tomato sauce), Roquefort (with creamy blue cheese sauce), curry, diable (with spicy tomato sauce), estragon (with creamy tarragon sauce) and crème. The eighth variety is still my favorite: a simple pot of steamed mussels in white wine.

But I enjoyed the flight nevertheless, being able to try certain varieties and sauces that I may not necessarily want an entire plate of. I loved the peppery sauce on the moules diables, but it would have been too spicy for a prolonged meal. Ditto the overpowering garlic on the moules a l'escargots. The biggest surprise was the creamy tarragon sauce -- fresh and herbal -- on the moules estragons, something which I will undoubtedly order again en masse. And the twice-fried frites with Duwez's remarkable, citrus-tinged homemade mayonnaise were as reliably good as always.

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My Maredsous Brune was wonderful, all creamy and thick with chocolate and dark berry flavors, but it wasn't an ideal counterbalance to any of the mussels. I sipped off my dining companion's Kwak and felt a tinge of jealousy, vowing to order it instead next time.

It was all resolved, however, by dessert: fat scoops of mocha ice cream topped with hot coffee. The Maredsous had found its food companion and I'd found a few new favorites at an old haunt.



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Location Info

Broken Spoke Cafe - CLOSED

1809 Washington, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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23 comments
csoakley
csoakley

I must say I'm shocked and disappointed this didn't turn into a 96 post, sock-puppet flamewar between the two cafes. I made a bucket of popcorn and everything.

I've been to both but I live closer to Jeannine's. I decided to pull up their website to check out their lunch specials and...website down.

Perhaps the Houston-Belgian Cafe cyberwars have been taken to a whole new level.

Ali
Ali

That looks delicious. I recently had the mussels in shiner bock at REEF and MAN, I wanted to put the bowl up to my face and drink it. I didn't, though. I'm an L-A-D-Y, you know. Classy and shit.

GiffordF
GiffordF

There's a new preparation of mussels at Jeannine's I really like: Congolese. Broth of light coconut milk, chipotle etc....really fine stuff!

Bruce R
Bruce R

I'd go more often but the beers are overpriced. One way they rip you off is by not posting prices on beers.  You think, how expensive can a mediocre beer like Stella cost?  Then find out it's something like $7 or $8.  Correct me if I'm wrong, it's been a while since I've been there.

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

Is all that draft beer relatively new?  I went not long after the split and there was a limited selection.  I've been going to Jeannines instead...

trisch
trisch

Try as I might, I can't make myself love moules marinieres -- somehow for me the white wine sauce makes the mussels fishier than they really are, but meanwhile I love the way the same sauce tastes on clams.  Broken Spoke's moules a l'escargot are where it's at for me, but now based on your descriptions, I'm going to have to try the creme and the estragon versions!

Feldman
Feldman

I must try the mussel and beer flights. I love sampling many things. Flights rule!

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I LOVE this idea. I've often wanted to try the different preparations of mussels but then I get option anxiety and just get moules marieniere.

Kylejack
Kylejack

This looks fantastic.  I need a draft Duchesse and a mussels flight, STAT.

jeannine
jeannine

Nope, sorry to dissapoint, but we have a bistro to run. We were updating our website a bit, so you probably checked it around that time. It's up and running, no cyberwars...

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

That does sound lovely. However, if this comments section deteriorates into a war between Jeannine's supporters and Broken Spoke defenders (as always happens with a post on either place), I am shutting it down.

As you were.  :)

Kelli
Kelli

There is a chalkboard on the back wall that posts the beers and prices and then there is always the ask option....I'm just saying.

GandolfHob
GandolfHob

yes, overpriced, and Pascal the chef left. He's over at La Mia on Memorial now.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

It's not that new anymore. Catherine first introduced it...I want to say...five or six months ago?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I swear to God, if there was a restaurant that offered all samples, I'd eat there every day. Everything tapas-style all the time!  :D

csoakley
csoakley

I'm glad the war is over but I still can't get to your website. You may want to look into that.

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

the congolese is the straight dope, I recommend highly

oh, and jeannines beers are expensive too

Bruce R
Bruce R

Kelli, asking for prices sucks.  I've done this before (not necessarily at Spoke).  I ask for a list that shows beers *and* prices, then they say they don't have that.  Then I say "How much is Beer X?" then they don't know so they go to the cash register, type it in, then come back.  This process is tedious.  But it sounds like they post their prices so it's a moot point.

Roy, $6 for a Stella is a little high but not baseball game high.

Pascal V.
Pascal V.

Hello Here is Pascal the former "Chef" of the Broken Spoke, just want to be more precise. I'm not  at "La Mia Cafe", but I will be on a new place shortly and will let you know, where I will be able to provide you some of my European specialities

Ali
Ali

Me toooo. Me too, Me too, Me tooooo.

GandolfHob
GandolfHob

doesn't that place on Westheimer, name of Poscol, kinda operate that way? 

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