Find More Than Great Mussels at Tommy Klus' New Restaurant, La Moule

Tommy Klus’ new restaurant, La Moule, has opened in the space that was previously home to Savoy Tavern and is serving up mussels, Belgian beers, and killer cocktails.
 
Tommy’s youthful appearance belies his experience; he’s worked at some of the best cocktail bars in Portland, including stints at Kask and Tear Drop. He developed and ran the bar program for the Multnomah Whiskey Library, an endeavour that saw him working more than 80 hours a week. Now, owning his first restaurant seems almost a relaxing proposition, and he’s gathered an incredible team to help.
 
The bar program at La Moule is a collaborative project, managed by Mark MacMinn, who came with Tommy from Kask; Anna Moss comes from Raven & Rose by way of Saint Jack, where La Moule’s Chef, Aaron Barnett has come from; and Bex Karnofski moved with Tommy from the Whiskey Library, and originally worked in the Seattle cocktail scene. Tommy is such a charming and friendly figure, it’s no surprise he’s gathered such a talented and welcoming crew.
 
Cocktail styles are wide-ranging to appeal to all palettes. The Boot Strap Buck, a take on the Dark & Stormy, is a deliciously spicy and warm highball that came with Tommy and Mark from Kask. The Black Lodge is similar to a Boulevardier or Red Hook—a rich and herbal cocktail with Wild Turkey Rye, Cynar, cherry liqueur, Punt e Mes, and orange bitters. The Ghost Rider is a vivid pink concoction filled with delicious and light botanicals—a descendant of the Hemingway Daiquiri, it’s made with Krogstad Aquavit, Campari, grapefruit, lime, and sugar. The Diablo is refreshing and zesty. It’s another pink drink with tequila, cassis, ginger beer, and lime. Other drinks include an old-fashioned, a lovely sherry drink, and some light aperitifs.
 
The cocktails are shockingly affordable for the quality, ranging from $7–$10. It’s important to Tommy and his staff that La Moule is accessible and approachable, in order to fit into the Clinton/Division neighborhood that they all love.
 
Most of the drinks on the menu are a little overwhelmed by the mussels, which are often packed with spices and rich flavors. While some of them can stand up to the shellfish, the cocktails are best enjoyed before dinner, with some fries or croquettes. To pair with mussels, La Moule offers an impressive and large Belgian beer list, both on draught and in a bottle. There is also a large wine list that includes sherry.  
 
The decor of La Moule is not dissimilar from its predecessor. The staff couldn’t bear to part with the sexy mid-century Swedish bar chairs, and for good reason. It’s still got that sleek but comfortable style, though the paint’s different, with less of the mid-western look. La Moule eschews the traditional happy hour but is solidly busy from opening at 5 PM until closing at midnight. The full menu is served the entire time, making it a destination for a person looking for a late night dinner.

La Moule, 2500 SE Clinton St.; 971-339-2822

Photo by Alexander Frane

Tags: Cocktails, Food
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