Did someone say Beer and Mussels? -Monks Belgian Cafe

I usually dont do this but this week I’m in Philly for work and last night was my first night out on the town. I would’ve searched for a  taqueria but I’m just not getting that vibe from Philly yet. In doing some searching I came across Monks Cafe and Beer Emporium. Two words, Beer and Mussels and thats all I need to hear. I’m a mussel addict, and I’ve actually been trying to come up with a recipe for mussels to post here but I love to cook them in shallots and wine too much to veer from my recipe, next time I suppose.

So we made the walk from the hotel through Philly’s center city through town hall where the Symphony was playing…pleasant surprise! It was about 12 blocks and in hindsight I’m glad we walked. The weather was great, it was a nice clear evening, and the walk home cured the gorging that took place earlier. The warm red neon sign out front greeted us from across the street and lured us in by displaying vintage bottles of Belgian brews. Walking in I immediately walked to the back to find the restroom only to take a wrong turn and end up at the Back bar. I was righted in going back to the front and taking a u-turn to find a bathroom that was sized right at home on the airplane I rode to Philly on. Walking back up front we were greeted by the hostess who seated us a table with a German couple completing the city eating experience of shared tables, meandering walkways, tiny bathrooms and brownstone entrances that are pretty much unavailable in Atlanta.

After looking at the menu online, I had pretty much determined a big ass pot of mussels and a couple beers made by monks who’ve vowed to remain speechless would be on par for the evening. My first beer was an Allagash White, possibly my favorite wit beer. I decided on an order of their Ghent Mussels, Saison Dupont (a killer beer on its own), parsley, carmelized leeks, bacon, bleu cheese & garlic. Although this was a tough choice with the mussels being available in a variety of stews from Thai Chili to White wine. We decided a Belgian bar was befit to an order of mussels cooked in something decidedly Beglian. Waiting for our order of mussels had the couple next to us ordering these fantastic looking burgers and a couple Corsendonk Pale Ales. It was inspiring enough to have some of that too. Since we were binging and it wasnt our dime (thanks company expense account!!!).

Upon getting our pot of mussels and a side of fries with a delightful bourbon aioli we ordered a round of burgers and Corsendonk’s too. I’ve never had mussels with any meat or cheese added but I’ve got to say I will no longer steer clear. It was just enough to impart some extra flavor into the broth as well as a nice addition when eating it with the mussels without being over powering. The mussels were also cooked perfectly and were fresh and the newly supplied Corsendonk’s we equally as good. This is definitely a beer I will be looking for back in Atlanta. It was slightly bitter like you would expect a pale ale to be but it was more complex with a fine nuttiness and hints of malt.


Along came the burgers along with some more thinly cut fries and more of the luscious bourbon aioli. The aioli had a nice spiciness to it and an array of other flavors than we pinned down to some garlic, lemon, vinegar, jalapeño and others. It made a nice complement to the fries which were nicely cooked and not overly greasy or crisp. Similar to the mussels being available in a bunch of different styles, the burgers followed this same methodology. The burgers had ingredients that were not your standard burger fare. Leeks, garlic, truffled cheeses, brocolli rabe and goat cheese to name a few. I decided on the Antwerp, which was sottocenare truffle cheese and shitake mushrooms. Outside of some greens bordering the plate there was no tomato, sliced onion or ketchup to be seen. This was very refreshing to see even though it limited your ability to dress your burger to your liking. Needless to say the burgers were as good as the mussels. All the flavors on mine worked tremendously together and was flavorful and juicy. The bun was a nice chewy farmhouse-esque bread that really rounded it out. A couple more Ale’s and were on our way back to the hotel which helped us walk off our gastro-destruction which was battling our guts. We walked by City Hall again but this time ventured out to peak at a few of the surrounding churches. A nightcap of Grand Marnier at the hotel bar was a nice finish to a killer evening.

From here on out if I’m ever in the great Philly area Monks Cafe will be hit with a vengeance. I cant wait to try more farmhouse ales, steamed mussels and eccentric burgers. I don’t care if the following hours are spent curled up in a ball wishing away the pain of a good solid beer and food binge. While the place was crowded on our tuesday night visit this place easily earns its 5 out of 5 chaka rating. Thankfully it isn’t a short drive away or I would be broke, full and fat.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: