May 8, 2012
- Food: Seafood
- Cost: $$
- Wine / Cocktails:
When you hear the name Flex Mussels you might automatically assume that a new gym had emerged. You would certainly not think of a restaurant. The menu showcases Prince Edward Island mussels in all their glory, in every way imaginable. There are also salads (OK), lobster rolls, fish and chips, the requisite salmon, cod and fish of the day and chicken for those sad few who do not like mussels or fish. Flex Mussels comes to us via Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island in Canada where the original restaurant resides. But now we can enjoy two locations in Manhattan. One in the West Village and one on East 82nd street. Flex Mussels is at first glance a small place on 82nd Street with a back to back bar counter that you can eat at or head to the back dining room which is small, crowded and noisy. Simple, non-desript decor and a lot of buzzing.
You can have mussels with curry coconut, lemongrass, coriander, line, ginger and garlic. Or the mussels Portuguese with linguica, clams, tomatoes, white wine and garlic or Italiano with calamari, roasted garlic, red wine and tomato sauce. Try the Mediterranean with shrimp, kalamata olives, fennel, lemon, anise, and oregano. Some of them come served in a skillets wrapped with a napkin or in tall pots with lids. Get some Flex hand cut fries with or without truffles served in a cone on the side. I particularly like the Parma, with parmigaiano cream, meyer lemon, scallions, toasted garlic and shallots. Every bite is sheer heaven loaded with luscious ingredients and fresh, plump tender mussels. You can have the Bisque (also a favorite), with lobster, smoked bacon, chowder and parsley or the The Mexican with chipotle adobo, chorizo and calamari. Whatever you order is fantastic but you will end up choosing favorites. This menu is so innovative and creative that it is almost impossible to decide what you want, so I find myself ordering several different dishes plus I poach a taste or two off of my friends' orders. I could eat there a couple of nights a week and not get bored. I try something new whenever I am there and am still delighted by the "cultural" menu of choices that enhances a simple thing like mussels to the highest height. I can eat in Maine, Italy, Thailand, India, Mexico and the most basic, Provencal region.
They do have daily specials like the Tuna Crudo I ordered last night which was too acidic. So I recommend sticking to what they do best and that is mussels! Remember to use the bread to sop up all of the delicious sauce after you have devoured you mussels.
I think this is a great concept: a singularly focused, well planned with a fabulous menu restaurant, that caters to one particular food that they transform into a cultural culinary experience; it is a new trend that others may try. It may not last for long because we all appreciate having the choices, but in this case, it is a beautiful thing that works. Our server, Brookes was cute and friendly. The wine list was fairly basic but had many international beers to choose from.
My favorites so far: The Parma, Bisque, The Mexican and Fries and a nice Rose they had three to choose from)
The Parma, Bisque, The Mexican and Fries and a nice Rose they had three to choose from)