I'm a HUGE lover of Moules Frites, or Moules Et Frites, in case the grammar and spelling police are reading this. So naturally, I have been on the hunt for the best version of this dish ever since I called Madison my new hometown a couple of years ago.
The absolute best Moules Frites I have ever had was from a bistro-style eatery in Belgium over 10 years ago. I've compared every Moules Frites I've ever had to that ONE... and I've never been able to find one that came close...
...until I walked into Jacs Dining and Tap House on Monroe Street in Madison, WI.
I've driven by this establishment probably over a hundred times and have never bothered to give it a second look. I never really paid much attention to it, and made the snap judgement that it would be your average, run of the mill eatery serving up typical bar fare.
To impersonate my favorite character Chandler, from 'Friends'...
Could I BE more wrong about this place?!?!
We happened to be STARVING on a Monday night and were too lazy to cook dinner. Honestly, I think we find any sort of reason to eat out. There's just so many good places to eat at around here, and we want to try them ALL!
We were driving towards Monroe street and somehow we all thought of Jacs.
"How about we go to that place Jacs we always drive by on Monroe?"
We were already in the area, and we haven't dined there before, so I agreed with the hubs.
A nice little victory for him.
Jacs is a charming, quaint, and romantic eatery with a good-sized bar. It has just the right kind of dim lighting. You know which one I'm talking about. The kind of lighting that makes everyone look good live or in selfies and STILL be able to see your food. It's the perfect setting for a Rom-Com worthy first date. Picture this.
A couple walks into Jacs, on their first date for dinner.
It's a packed house.
They are seated at the far end of the restaurant at the corner table. The only available table.
They eat their meal, drink their wine, share a dessert, all while they exchange glances and are completely engaged in conversation. To our couple, they're the only ones in the restaurant. They're the only ones in focus. Everyone else is just a blur.
Hours go by.
It's 9:50pm. 10 more minutes until closing.
The staff can see them from the bar. They smile and decide to let them stay while they clean up and close things down for the night.
It's 10:45pm. The staff is getting ready to leave, and the bartender politely let's them know that they will be locking up soon and hands them their tab for the night.
Our couple realizes they're the only ones left. Embarrassed, but still giddy, they pay their tab in cash with well over 20% for the gratuity. They politely thank the restaurant staff and leave Jacs hand in hand and hail a cab that, as fate would have it, happens to be heading down Monroe street.
Yup. This is what I immediately thought of when we were seated at our table in the far corner. This would be a great date night restaurant.
See what I mean?
I met one of the owners and was pleased to know that almost ALL their dishes are gluten-free.
Yes, you read that right. GLUTEN-FREE.
So for those of you who are looking for a restaurant to cater to your gluten sensitivities, Jacs is THE place to eat at.
Here is a little peak into their menu.
Now that I've described the atmosphere, and informed all of you about Gluten Free dining at Jacs, let's get into the Moules Frites.
We got there on the right day! It was 'Moules Frites Monday', where the dish is $15 (typically $17) and select bottles of wine are 1/2 priced! SCORE!!!!!
Our server gave us the option to substitute our Frites with greens and warned us that it's a sizable portion. We opted to stick with the Frites for both of our orders.
When our order finally arrived, we were pleasantly surprised.
And, she was right. There was a TON of frites with our moules, but we also had a TON of moules with our frites.
Check it out!
All those Prince Edward Island Mussels bathing in a Garlic-Chardonnay broth was PURE BLISS!
This took me back to that little bistro in Belgium where nothing held a candle to the best Moules Frites I've ever had.
Jacs absolutely nailed it! Bravo!
The broth was seasoned PERFECTLY. The essence of the mussels was present, and the garlic wasn't too overpowering. It was absolutely PERFECT. You better believe I sopped up the broth with the baguette. Which by the way, was super good on it's own. And the mussels? The mussels were HUGE and definitely a generous portion for the incredibly reasonable Moules Frites Monday price. I absolutely devoured this dish!
Let's not forget about the Frites!
They were AH-MAZING!!!
They were also kind enough to bring out four different aioli sauces to try with our Frites.
Clockwise starting from the bottom left of the photo below: Red Hot, Cranberry, Black Pepper, which comes with the Frites, and Sage.
Each aioli was unique, delicious, and surprisingly, ALL worked well with the Frites.
My personal fav? The Sage aioli.
The Cranberry is a close second. I hear they use it in their Turkey Sandwiches for lunch.
Well there you have it folks.
After scouring Madison for the best Moules Frites, I have finally found them.
I can confidently say, without any hesitation, that the best Moules Frites in Madison, can be found at Jacs Dining and Tap House.
Head on over to Jacs and take advantage of Moules Frites Mondays. Rest assured that it's on their regular menu, so if you can't make it out on a Monday, they should still be there for the other days of the week. Just expect to pay $2 more for it ($17), which is well worth it for having the privilege of eating the best Moules Frites in town.
Don't make the same mistake I did by ignoring this place every time I drove past it. (I've been driving past it for over 2 years now.)
Whether it's just on a whim or for a romantic date night, make sure you walk on in and order the Moules Frites. Jacs certainly won't disappoint.
It's THE BEST!