2006 Fall Dining Guide By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006
Fans who held their breath when this cozy exemplar of Belgian cuisine changed hands last year can exhale. Le Mannequin Pis is much as its former owner and chef, Bernard Dehaene, left it. The room, with its yellow walls and candle-light glow, is as snug as ever. A patron can still find dozens of great beers. (I'm partial to the complex, root-beer-colored Trappistes Rochefort 10.) And the menu continues to celebrate the flavors of a tiny country that is all but ignored by other area restaurants. A thick river of hot cheese gushes from a plate of golden croquettes, fresh spinach is stacked atop little support beams of asparagus and hearts of palm in a fetching salad, and tender chunks of beef appear in a robust stew with sweet onions. Steamed mussels, trailed by a serving of crisp fries, can be sampled 15 ways; most recently, the lid of my double-decker pot was lifted to reveal a great puff of steam and a mound of bivalves, wickedly seasoned with onions, garlic, horseradish and beer -- the aptly titled "Red Devil." Another Belgian tradition brings up the rear: Anything made with chocolate is where you should head for dessert.