Update from Feed Me Blog March 2010:
Lunch with the girls at Moules et Frites. Looking over the menu, we wondered what could make a pretzel worth $9. Our charming waiter informed us that it had been made in Bavaria and then flown in to be baked and served. Of course we ordered it and it arrived piping hot, measuring a full 10 inches across. The piping hot part proved to be a problem: bread really needs a few minutes to cool once it comes out of the oven lest it turn gummy at the point of entry. Which this pretzel, pulled apart savagely by hungry journalists, emphatically did. Not the pretzel’s fault though, nor Bavaria’s.
I enjoyed a large “salade maison” made with two increasingly rare salad ingredients: bibb lettuce and Dijon vinaigrette. What a relief not to be confronted with more balsamic-dressed mesclun. One friend enjoyed her burger, another found her chicken salad tasty but a bit too runnily mayonnaise-y. A “curry wurst” sandwich was compromised by a candy-sweet sauce. No one ordered moules (mussels) but we all agreed with Peter Gianotti’s assessment of the frites as merely routine.
End blog update
The best of Moules et Frites is neither mussels nor fries. It's the near-celebratory style of the joint. Go on a weekend night, and you'll think it must be New Year's Eve somewhere. On quieter weeknights, the "Belgian bistro & biergarten" becomes a friendly local combo of bar and eatery.
M&F is the latest from Reststar, which operates Huntington's Bistro Cassis and Plainview's Brasserie Cassis, among other similar eateries in Nassau and Suffolk. From posters to plates, M&F fits into the series, with the entertaining art direction and set decoration that are always part of the playfully faux package. Realistic prices, too.
THE BEST Sip a brew, bite a bretzel, the big, soft, chewy pretzel served with two mustards. Or, enjoy a wurst sandwiched in a cut of bretzel, flanked by apple-flecked potato salad and red cabbage. Sturdy stuff. M&F adds to its Alsatian side with a mellow choucroute, or sauerkraut with sausages, bacon and smoked pork; a starter of sliced garlic sausage with lentils in mustard sauce; and tender chicken finished with riesling. The caramelized leek, bacon and Gruyère tart calls for a brew. Dark beer-and-Cheddar soup, served in a bread bowl, also works in a wintry way, as do the sweet-smoky bacon-wrapped scallops on sauteed endive and leeks in a chive-crème fraîche sauce. For dissenters: tuna tartare, given an Asian spin with sesame-soy-ginger dressing. Plump, steamed mussels are available in enough preparations to keep you returning for at least a week. Try the fennel-tomato-Pernod production.
THE REST Skippable desserts, including an underdone Belgian waffle and overworked beer-poached pear, routine fries, underseasoned beef stew and a conversation-piece 2.2-pound "kiloburger" festooned with bacon, Cheddar, beer-battered onions, more. It makes you appreciate sliders.
THE BOTTOM LINE Raise a glass.
Moules et Frites is located at 4 Berry Hill Rd., Syosset, 516-802-0713, reststarinc.com