I headed to brunch at Mussel Bar in Arlington with my trusty brunch sidekick in tow–my boyfriend, Rich–who can always be counted on to follow the food. We were invited to brunch on-the-house by Mussel Bar, which recently launched a new brunch buffet for $32 per person. In the pursuit of full disclosure–Rich and I both love Mussel Bar’s happy hour and often frequent this location on Friday nights, which are often rather rowdy!
The first thing that caught our eyes was the Bloody Mary bar. Even though this is not a novel concept, it was one of the best Bloody bars we’ve seen to date. Complete with multiple different types and flavors of hot sauce, lemons, limes, jalapeños, cornichons, spices, celery sticks, bacon, and two different types of tomato juices.
Did I mention that these cocktails are only $8? Oh, how I love Virginia. While I could not stomach any Bloodys on this particular morning, Rich dug right in. The bartender handed Rich a glass with plenty of vodka and he went to town.
He made his with regular tomato juice (the salsa verde is hot!), celery, jalapeños, hot sauce, and bacon. Folks, this bacon was amazing. I happened to like it more than the regular bacon on the buffet and stole a few pieces on my various trips to-and-from the table.
My mimosa was outstanding thanks to the skilled bartender, Mark. It was light and crisp as mimosas should be, and only $4. Rich also ordered a coffee and was unabashedly excited to see it come out in a French press. It’s the little things, people. The coffee was also superb.
Now for the food. We loved how the different stations were scattered throughout the restaurant and not set in one location. I enjoyed not having to wait in line or awkwardly mingle with other guests as I decided what I wanted. Let me take a moment and try to convey how clean and professional the space and staff were.
This was the tidiest and cleanest buffet I’ve seen yet. There was rarely a moment when something needed to be refilled or wiped up, but when that happened the staff was quick to dive in and keep everything was running smoothly. At one point, Rich accidentally put the seafood jambalaya serving spoon in the meatball dish. The attending server immediately removed the meatballs and ordered up fresh ones with two new spoons as to not contaminate anything or cause any allergic reactions. Bravo!
As we’re typically snobby Bitches about buffets, we’ve discovered the key to a quality buffet must lie in the service.
We made our way around the restaurant until our plates were full and took a seat in our cozy booth by the windows. We both agreed that the fried chicken was delicious—it was crispy and juicy. The scrambled eggs with kale, potatoes, and tomatoes were very tasty and cooked perfectly. We also loved our meatballs, which were well seasoned and moist.
But the real winner of this plate was the soy and ginger glazed salmon from the carving board. It was amazing! The salmon was cooked perfectly and so tasty. It was definitely our favorite dish of the day.
Our other favorite dish of the day was the mini waffle. This makes sense being that Mussel Bar is a Belgian restaurant. I dipped mine in chocolate sauce, which just made it that much better. The pancakes weren’t my favorite because they weren’t very fluffy and seemed like they were a little overdone after sitting on the griddle. However, the blueberries inside were super tart and fresh.
When we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, some passed plates came around and we rallied for more courses. The avocado toast was surprisingly delicious and very flavorful. The crostini were incredibly well seasoned. The mini mussel pots were very cute and obviously delicious–as they should be from Mussel Bar!
I was very full at this point but the dessert table was calling my name. I had been eyeing the cannoli mountain all morning! I was right–they were amazing! Minus the raisins. I don’t know anyone who loves raisins. The filling was creamy and very satisfying.
We loved this buffet and thought that the restaurant had a great flow and an amazing arrangement of different offerings. There was something for everyone whether you wanted a smoked salmon bagel, a pasta salad, a fresh slice of brisket, pancakes and waffles, some fresh veggies, or lots of dessert. I was very glad that there were plenty of options without seafood in them, but also enough dishes which showcased their specialty. You could tell that the chefs really put a lot of effort into the menu. My only request would be for the dishes to be just a little hotter.
The Bitches say: B+. This is a great spot if you want a great quality and quantity of bottomless food in a relaxed environment. Don’t skip the Bloody Marys, carving board, and the waffles.
Mussel Bar Arlington
800 North Glebe Road
Mussel Bar serves brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.