Today chef Aaron Barnett and his partner/barman Tommy Klus have new details to share with regard La Moule, their late-night mussels, beer and craft cocktail joint headed to the old Savoy Tavern space in Southeast. For starters, they're bringing on former Ava Gene's chef de cuisine Cameron Addy. And there's lots more to say about the menus as they come together.
At present, he and Addy are dialing in a menu that will focus primarily on mussels: a Classique (shallot, garlic, lefe, butter, parsley), a Marinière (shallot, garlic, parsley, white wine, capers, butter, chili flake), a Morrocan (merguez, onion, cilantro, mint, harissa), a Diavola (garlic, tomato sauce, chillies, salami, oregano), and even a Chicago version with kielbasa, sport peppers, pale ale and oregano.
There will also be plenty of starters, including a salade Liégeoise (green beans, bacon, bleu d'Auvergne, red wine vinaigrette) a tomate crevette (a tomato stuffed with a cucumber, dill and bay shrimp salad), bone marrow and steak tartare with pickled shallot, coronations and dijon, and pickled herring toast with crème fraiche, red onion, apples and horseradish.
St. Jack's famed butter lettuce salad will migrate to the menu, and Barnett said he and Addy are throwing on a couple of meatier options, too: a New York Steak, and a cheeseburger with nothing but thick-cut bacon, red onions and a double-cream brie. He's already test-driven the burger with some critics and other discerning eaters who say that it needs none of the usual fixings—or even condiments. There will also be dessert, but only one: Belgian liège waffles.
As far as beer goes, Klus says he's still tinkering with the menu. Of the dozen La Moule taps, Klus explains that he's exploring Trappist and abbey beers, as well as Dubbel, Flemish, Lambics, stouts and wheats. "I hope to find a way to populate the menu in a way that might help those who are just getting into Belgian beer understand and taste through the styles." He also mentions the possibility of to-go bottles if the licensing goes through.
Cocktail development isn't yet in full swing, but Klus' vision is clear. "I'm a fan of the flowing bowl, so I suppose you can count on us having a punch," he says. "And it's no secret I like Scotch, and since France is one of the world's largest importers of single malt, I have a great excuse to include it."
Ultimately, though, the cocktails will be crafted to pair with what the kitchen does best. Klus dropped the following list of "buzzwords," to boot: "champagne, low-proof, apéritif, vermouth, absinthe, genever, Aquavit, beer cocktails, Scotch, whiskey, gin, chartreuse, punch, hand-carved ice, sherry, more sherry."
Sexy, gritty, retro
To round it all out, the vibe, Barnett adds, will be decidedly 1970s—that early, gritty sort of New York City kind of feel, complete with old-school wallpaper, dark corners, "that golden lighting that makes everyone look sexy" and a glam-centric soundtrack scored with old Lou Reed, T. Rex, Stooges, Bowie and New York Dolls tracks. The space, which seats around 70 with room for another 20 outside, will feature an open kitchen and a copper-topped chef's counter. La Moule is currently on track for a soft opening around August 31.
La Moule: 2500 SE Clinton St.