Dinner with friends last night at Sur La Place (5105 MacArthur), the newish Belgian place in the Palisades owned by the Olney Mannequin Pis folks (I still need to eat there, too — why does Olney seem so far away? It’s not that far from Wheaton!). Sur La Place — literally, “Southern Mollusk” — has gotten mostly positive reviews so far, including from Sietsema at the Post. I am not linking to their website because they do not appear to have one. When little hole-in-the-wall dives have no website it is often a good sign, but that truism is less true when it comes to bigger players. SLP isn’t big but it isn’t even remotely a dive. It has a nice ambience, actually.
A good start: fresh-baked baguette slices were still warm in their basket. Six of us collectively ordered only a half serving of mussels. I had a couple, and liked them, fresh and meaty, but mussels aren’t my favorite shellfish. The half portion would easily have fed a single human (maybe plus a shared appetizer); the giants pots of full portion mussels we saw delivered to other tables could each feed the entire Belgian army.
Four of us had the stew, a rich winey pile of tender beef that everyone liked. I tried an appetizer special of asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and mired in gruyere or a gruyere-like facsimile; it had clearly been sitting in the warming area for a while because the cheese was seriously congealed. The cheese was tangy and the prosciutto was good but the asparagus was barely evident and also a bit stringy. As a ham-and-cheese appetizer, it was okay. I also had a housemade venison-blueberry sausage in a bed of lentils, and aside from nearly destroying a tooth on my first bite thanks to an uncooked lentil (or a small rock?) it was pretty good, though not as good as the Merguez lamb sausage someone else ordered. We shared several orders of frites, thin-cut Belgian style (but without mayo!), salty and good but eerily similar to McDonalds in texture and taste (not really a bad thing, as McD fries are pretty good).
Overall we thought the food was good, not great. We like the brick-and-mural design of the dining room, and although it was fairly loud, it wasn’t conversation-destroying loud. Our server was wonderful, but the kitchen was slow and we waited a long time between courses. We had a good time, but I doubt I will go back, given the expense and distance and lack of greatness.