Mon 7 Jul 2008
Three months ago, I broke the news on DCFoodies and Endless Simmer that DC’s own Teddy Folkman was competing against Bobby Flay in an episode of ‘Throwdown!’ that was filmed on Tuesday, March 18th. Though we were told to expect an air date in late May or early June, no one heard anything from the Food Network until a few weeks ago. Now, sixteen weeks later, it’s finally showtime!
On Tuesday night, July 8th, the Food Network will be airing “Mussels & Fries” at 9 PM. Filmed on location at the Argonaut (a bigger space – the better to accommodate the film crew and the crowd), the Throwdown gives Teddy a chance to show off the Moules Fromage Bleu and hand-cut, twice-fried frites that have been earning praise from pretty much everyone who tries them since Folkman started as executive chef at Granville Moore’s last September. More about the taping and Granville Moore’s allure after the jump.
If you’ve seen “Throwdown,” you know that the central conceit of the show is that Bobby Flay shows up unannounced to challenge his opponent to a cook-off of the opponent’s specialty. What a jerk, right? Not so fast.
Though some people are quick to dismiss the show as gimmicky and just another platform for Flay to promote himself, I’ve come to see it as quite the opposite: a chance for the Food Network to highlight obscure local favorites. Sure, Flay travels with a significant entourage of assistants and has time beforehand to test and perfect his recipes, but he is definitely operating at a disadvantage. Not only is he working on unfamiliar dishes that are second-nature to his opponents, he is also working in front of crowds who are naturally biased in favor of their hometown heroes. Flay’s win-loss record (twice as many losses as wins over the first four seasons of the show) suggests that this would be ill-advised as an ego trip.
In any event, we were lucky enough to be in the audience for the competition, and it was truly impressive to see both Folkman and Flay at work. Teddy’s blue cheese mussels were plump and delicious, and the truffled yellow tomato dipping sauce he created specially for the taping was at once rich and tangy. Flay’s broth of coconut milk and green chiles had a silky heat that made me eager for more. Thank goodness Teddy has since added moules navigateur to the menu at Granville Moore’s in a nod to Bobby Flay’s concoction!
Although I still can’t reveal the outcome of the contest, the impending airing got me thinking about Granville Moore’s, which has quickly become one of our favorite places for a late-night beer or a quick meal of mussels and fries.
Granville Moore’s occupies a typical Capitol Hill rowhouse in the heart of the Atlas District (H Street, NE). Formerly a neighborhood doctor’s offices (the name is an homage to the man, who was known for his tireless service to the community), the restaurant’s limited footprint forces Teddy and his cooks to make do with a handful of burners, fryers and cooktops in a kitchen that can be considered cramped even by local standards. Even so, they’re turning out roughly a ton of mussels a month and more than twice that many fries!
If you go to Granville Moore’s on a weekend, you may be hard-pressed to find a seat. Tables on two levels and an outdoor beer garden provide seating for less than 100 people at a time, and they operate on a first-come, first-served basis (parties of six or more can call ahead to reserve a table from Sunday to Thursday). They do maintain a waiting list, allowing you to put in your name and grab a drink at the H Street Martini Lounge next door or the Pug a few doors down while you wait. But do yourselves a favor and save some room for what awaits at Granville Moore’s.
Their beer list rivals Brasserie Beck in selection and quality (if not sheer volume), offering a great education in the various styles of Belgian brews. With four beers on tap downstairs at any given time, a solid list of beers that are regularly available and a chalkboard full of others available in limited quantities, there’s something here for everyone. Like a fruity lambic? No problem. Prefer a boozy trippel? Hardly a challenge. Looking for a full-bodied white with notes of orange and coriander and a crisp finish? Good news, fancy-pants, they’ve got you covered.
The aforementioned mussels and fries are obviously the stars of the show here, and the list of supporting players has to start with the dipping sauces that complement the fries so damn well. Truffle aioli, horseradish sauce, curry mango and dijonaisse are joined by three others to give you plenty of ways to top off the salty, herbed potatoes. A small order of fries comes with one sauce and a large will get you two, but no one would blame you if you’re tempted to drop an extra buck each to sample additional sauces.
Beyond the mussels and fries, the menu reminds you that Granville Moore’s is proud to call itself a gastropub. Entrees and sandwiches focus on grilled meats (most notably New Frontier bison from Madison, VA) though the presentations are decidedly upscale-casual. An appetizer of bison tartare blew us away the first time we tried it, and the bison brisket that comes on the steak et fromage sandwich is tender and juicy but nowhere near as fatty as its beef counterpart would be.
The ambience and the menu make it clear that Granville Moore’s is going for a laid-back, neighborhood feel. The fact that they happen to offer a great selection of beers as well is icing on the cake.
1238 H Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Throwdown with Bobby Flay: Mussels and Fries
Tuesday, July 8 @ 9:00 PM
Food Network (Comcast channel 56 in DC)