There are certain characteristics of a French-style brasserie that makes it a French-style brasserie.
There’s got to be a bar, preferably made of zinc but heavy, deep wood will do.
Floors have to be tiled, at least in part, in colored patterns.
The menu has to have pommes frites, confited things, and profiteroles.
The wine list has to be mostly French – naturally – but the cocktail list too has to be Franco influenced, stylistically and literally. Think Grand Marnier, Chartreuse, and Cointreau.
Brasserie Jo, inside the Colonnade Hotel on Huntington Avenue, fits all those characteristics.
Take the cocktail list, which includes an optimally sippable 38 Eiffel, composed of Stoli Blueberri, St. Germain liqueur, and lime juice “in honor of Gustave,” as the menu says.
The menu itself overflows with brasserie classics like Cassoulet Toulousain and Choucroute Alsacienne. Though the duck breast special I had Saturday night was disappointing, the Mussels Riesling Marinière with pommes frites was exceptional.
There are two reasons I know this to be true.
First, the mussels made my companion for the night, a Belgian who has been living in the US for some 14 years, actually pine for home. (Little known fact: Belgians consume more mussels per capita than any other country on the planet.)
Secondly, the Mussels Riesling Marinière were recommended via a tweet from @funfearlessbean while I was en route to the restaurant. The exchange went something like this:
WGBHFoodie: What to eat at Brasserie Jo on a cold, rainy night?
funfearlessbean: The Mussels Riesling Marinière, absolutely! And use the bread to soak up the rest of the sauce.
So we did. Order the mussels, that is. But here was my Belgian friend’s tweak of the tweet: to use the frites instead of bread to soak up the sauce. As soon as he’d eaten enough of the mussels to open up a little space (this did not take long), he simply dumped the cone of accompanying frites into the sauce. And then he promptly ordered a second round of frites.
It was, to use the Dutch term, lekker. It was, to use the French term, délicieux.
It was, to use my term, right on.
Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.