Sur La Place

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.

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4 responses to “Sur La Place

  1. Interesting review as I had heard of this place. I can’t help wondering whether the DC Belgian restaurant market is now saturated (my favorite being Brasserie Beck, although I’ve yet to try Granville Moore’s).

    On a side note: I went to BGR The Burger Joint in Bethesda today. I ordered a simple burger (lettuce, tomatoes, no pickle, no onions, no cheese, no fries) cooked medium, figuring the unadorned burger is the ultimate test for a burger.
    When the burger arrived it was very pink, so pink in fact that my bun had turned red. I returned the burger to the counter and they were pleasant enough about offering to exchange it for a more thoroughly cooked burger; however they did try to explain that medium meant pink (not sure I bought their explanation since I’ve never seen a medium burger quite that pink in my life). Once the more cooked burger arrived it was clear that they were working with quality ingredients. I did try some of Kumar’s fries but thought they were ho-hum and didn’t regret not ordering them.
    Overall I’d rate the burger quite a bit higher than 5 Guys (far less greasy than 5Gs), although I would have liked my meat seasoned a little more – it seemed a little bland despite being very juicy. I’d probably give it 7/10 on the Burger Meter for overall quality and value.

  2. Not sure where to post this, but The Royal Mile was hopping in the early evening last night. Nearly every table was filled at 5:30 p.m., in contrast to the 2 or 3 times we went for an early Sunday supper just six months or a year ago. The food was good, and two guitarists helped to create a festive atmosphere.

  3. Steve — yes, I think we have reached saturation. There’s also Saint Ex, and at least one other place I’m forgetting. BGR = better than 5G but also nearly twice as $$$. And 5G fries remain the big winner.

    Sheila — thanks for the post. I haven’t been to RM for a while (aside from just beers at the bar) but need to get back there, as it is one of the better Wheaton spots, and I’m glad to hear it was hopping. Always makes me happy when the places I like are busy.

  4. Belga Cafe on Barracks Row is the other Belgian restaurant that I can think of. We went there for brunch the other week – very busy, somewhat spendy, small portions, and yet I liked it (as did everyone else). I guess it goes to show that if the food is really good it can make up for some other issues.

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