Philadelphia | Show Me Your Mussels

Earlier this year when Katie, Jess, and I met in Philly and went with our parents to the Pompeii exhibit at the Franklin Institute, we also enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Monk’s Cafe. Monk’s is a “Belgian Beer Emporium & Restaurant” famous for its mussels. It’s not a big place and we were very lucky to get their only table that would fit our group of seven. Here’s how to have a successful lunch at Monk’s:
  • Drink. A lot. They have a really large selection of brews. So many, that I thought they may have one of my favorites, Franziskaner. The waitress said she didn’t but that she did have something similar. It turned out to be another one of my favorites that I hadn’t seen on the menu, a Weihenstephaner. I was very happy.


  • Giggle. A lot. So much so that when you return to the restaurant later (see bullet 5) and start talking to someone who you thought you met the night before but turns out to be someone you’ve never met, that he is kind anyway and says, “Oh, you were at the rowdy table!”
  • Eat. A lot. We got two pots of mussels: “Monk’s” – Gueuze, fumé, garlic, & parsley – and “Ghent” – Saison Dupont, fumé, parsley, caramelized leeks, bacon, bleu cheese, & garlic. “Fumé” just seems to mean “smoked.” Saison Dupont and Gueuze are types of beer. The mussels came with bread and frites to dip into the sauce. The “Monk’s” mussels were more traditional and definitely tasty, but the “Ghent” mussels were out-of-this-world amazing. Everyone but me also ordered either a burger (all named after Belgian cities) or the duck sandwich, for which Monk’s is also famous. My tummy was still pretty full from the Federal Donuts taste test that morning so I just sampled a little of what others ordered after chowing down on tons of mussels.
  • Get mussel juice from another table (who had not sopped up the sauce with the bread and frites as well as your table did) spilled all over your jacket.
  • Drop your Pompeii-exhibit novelty photo on the floor under the table, realize it’s missing later on, sprint back to the restaurant still energized from your Weihenstephaners, crawl on the still damp-from-aforementioned-mussel-juice floor at the large table where others are now sitting, and successfully retrieve said photo.
Okay, it’s quite possible that you don’t need to do the last two in order to have a successful Monk’s visit, but it can’t hurt, right?

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