Michel Richard is serving Budweiser and burgers at his bistro, Central; Cathal Armstrong does fried cod and Mars bars at Eamonn’s, his Dublin-style fish and chips spot. Now chef Robert Wiedmaier, known for his lavish tasting menus at Marcel’s in the West End, is gearing up for the late-April opening (he estimates April 21) of his second restaurant, Brasserie Beck. Like Central and Eamonn’s, Beck’s will be more relaxed than its older sibling in both atmosphere and price.
Here, Wiedmaier is focusing on the more rustic flavors of Belgium, most notable for moules frites and beer: “I expect we’ll go through about 300 pounds of mussels a day—that's my lowest estimate,” he says. Preparations range from a classic pot of mollusks steamed with white wine, garlic and parsley to a version with carmelized fennel and chorizo to a baked gratin topped with gruyere. There’s a selection of 55 beers, with nine Belgian brews on tap including Scaldis, La Chouffe and Saison Dupont.
We got a peek inside Brasserie Beck's cavernous space, which has been modeled after a European train station, with lots of dark wood paneling, tile floors, and old-fashioned clocks hanging from the ceiling. A chef’s table sits opposite the gleaming open kitchen, where huge steamers for mussels and fry baskets for frites wait to be used. High-definition TVs will soon be installed over the long marble-topped bar—they'll show footage from cameras filming inside the kitchen to give diners at the bar a behind-the-scenes view—unless, of course, there’s a big game on.
How will Wiedmaier handle running two restaurants at once? Why’d he move away from expense-account fine dining for his second venture? Is his second son Beck—Marcel's little brother—happy that now there’s a restaurant named after him, too? Ask Wiedmaier these questions and more when he guest-hosts Todd Kliman’s chat next Tuesday at 11 AM. Submit a question here–it's never too early!
Brasserie Beck, 1101 K St., NW; Beckdc.com.