Senate Pub in Cincinnati is known for chef Daniel Wright’s signature upscale hot dogs. But those in the know order Wright’s mussels charmoula. It turns out there are a lot of people in the know. “We probably go through 150 to 200 pounds of mussels a week,” Wright says. The dish is so popular that it appears at both Senate and Abigail Street, Wright’s other restaurant.
As you may be able to guess from the picture (left), the mussels aren’t favored for their looks. “When it comes to putting dishes together, I’m not a very frilly person,” Wright says. “The first priority is that it tastes incredible.”
Without a doubt, it’s the sauce that makes the mussels. Wright starts by blending tomato, garlic, onion, saffron and shellfish stock, then adds cream and butter. When an order comes in, he sautés shallots, throws the mussels in the pan then tops them with the buttery sauce. After they steam, he adds a hit of harissa for spice, and serves the messy, saucy dish with garlic-rubbed ciabatta for optimum sopping.