Saturday, November 4, 2017

La Moule: Mussels and Oh, So Much More!

I was looking for a great place to take Jon for his birthday. We'd been to a few fancy-schmancy places around Portland, and, while suitably impressed, felt like something a bit more casual for this occasion. I searched around, rather at the last minute, for a place that we'd like and that had a table available with just two days notice. After exploring options for Steakhouses, Italian, and more, I came across La Moule in SE Portland. They had a yummy sounding Steak Frites on the menu, which I knew Jon would like, and I'm a sucker for really good mussels. With a name that literally means, "the mussel," we decided this place might fit the bill. Oh my gosh, did it. On a Friday night in early November it was hopping, but our table was ready though we got there a bit early. While not exactly intimate, La Moule's two candlelit dining rooms have an air of romance about them. There are booths for three or more diners and round cafe tables for two.

Since the prices were quite reasonable, we decided to splurge. Jon ordered a crab salad as an appetizer and I ordered the steak tartare, (which I'd never had but always fantasized about). Though it took that first course a little longer than ideal to arrive, we sipped our wonderful Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and engaged in the entertaining conversation we always enjoy, even though we've been married nigh on 30 years. Finally, the appetizers arrived and they were beyond what we'd expected. Jon's Dungeness crab was served in a delicious, garlicky-type mayo on a bed of fresh, snappy green beans. It was heaven. My steak tartare was served with a quail egg cracked in the middle, on top of a hot beef bone with marrow. One had only to scrape out the marrow and mix it and the egg into the steak, then enjoy the horse-radishy deliciousness of this ultra fresh, raw beef, that came with slices of french baguette. Wow.

Our main courses arrived more promptly than the appetizers, in perfect time, in fact, and again, we were bowled over. His steak frites was a juicy square of - I'm not sure what particular cut - but was cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth just like the herb butter that was drizzled on top. The frites (french fries, in case you didn't know) were slim and crispy, served with a garlic mayo. Jon gave me plenty of bites and we agreed it was a plate of pure heaven. I had the Moule Marniere, which is basically a huge bowl of mussels served in a broth of white wine, olive oil (I think), butter (I think) and garlic (yes, everything here is drenched in garlic). The mussels were huge, tender, fresh morsels, that, like, like the steak, melted in your mouth. I later asked the incredibly fun, nice, and efficient waitress where they were from and she said they come from just up north in Washington, delivered every day.

We had no room for dessert, but were so impressed overall, we vowed to come back. This place really had it all: hip factor, great food, great atmosphere (though a tad loud, just so you know), and great service. It was a departure from our usual dining out spots, and an experience we were so glad we got to have. Jon declared it the perfect birthday dinner!

Evaluation: Extraordinarily sincere!

2500 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202
Reservations through
(971) 339-2822


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