Phaedra Cook is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes of 2015. It's a collection of personal favorites that is also indicative of Houston dining. It's a scene where a vast range of dishes coexist: highbrow and lowbrow; local and international; cheap and expensive; modern cuisine and beloved tenets — and everything in between.
There are three good reasons to visit Café Brussels: the homey, rustic dining room, the great selection of Belgian beer and the giant pots of steaming hot mussels. It doesn’t really matter which sauce you choose. They’re all good because mussels are what Café Brussels does best. Some personal favorites, though, are the Moules Diable with zesty tomato sauce; simply elegant Moules Marinière in white wine and the Moules Provençale (pictured) in a broth laden with bits of tomato and herbs du Provence.
Order the entrée portion, which comes with an order of the perfectly-crispy, golden frites (or Belgian-style fries). They come with a side of mayonnaise (for those who want to eat Belgian-style) and ketchup (for those who don’t). A pot full with fries is $25 or $26 depending on which sauce is ordered, but it’s a big, sharable order of at least 15 of the ebony-shelled treasures.
When the enameled, steaming metal pot comes to the table, it’s a moment of great anticipation. A big domed lid doubles as a repository for the spent shells.
Dive to the bottom with a big metal spoon and listen to the half-opened shells of the black beauties rattle and clack against each other like nature’s castanets. Fill the shells with brothy goodness and once you’ve cleared a space in the bottom of the pot, dive in with a thick slice of bread to mop up the sauce. It’s just too good to go to waste.
The List of Top 100 Dishes of 2015 So Far:
No. 76, Cresta di Gallo at The Pass & Provisions
No. 77, Beef Fajitas at El Real Tex-Mex
No. 78, Chicken Tikka Masala from the Tandoori Nite truck
No. 79, Chocolates at Cacao & Cardamom
No, 80, Hummus Supreme at Al's Quick Stop
No. 81, Red Oil Dumplings at Mala Sichuan
No. 82, Tex-Cajun Fries at BB's Café
No. 83, Mac & Cheese at The Oceanaire Seafood Room
No. 84, The Principal Burger at Bernie's Burger Bus
No. 85, Hunter's Honey-Roasted Duck at Brennan's Of Houston
No. 86, Fish & Chips at Good Dog Houston
No. 87, Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit at Blacksmith
No. 88, "Saucy Balls" At Brooklyn Meatball Company
No. 89, Perry's Steakhouse/Perry & Sons Pork Chop
No. 90, General Tso's Chicken from The Rice Box
No. 91, Eggs, Refried Beans, Hash Browns and Hugo's Sauce at 59 Diner
No. 92, Shipley Do-Nuts Plain Glazed
No. 93, Housemade Bologney at Public Services Wine & Whisky
No. 94, Bo Luc Lac at Cheno's (formerly Chino's) Fast Food
No. 95, Combo #5 at Soto's Cantina
No. 96, Carnitas Salad At Chipotle
No. 97, Pickled Shrimp At Punk's Simple Southern Food
No. 98, Lobster Roll At Maine-Ly Sandwiches
No. 99, Chili-Cheese Coneys At JCI Grill
No. 100, Corned Beef Hash And Eggs At House Of Pies