Monday, September 19, 2011

Flex Your Mussels!

Mussels, mussels, mussels. This phrase, emblazoned across the top of the menu, suggests the obvious. You will find lots of mussels at Flex Mussels. With two locations in Manhattan, Flex Mussels not only has a hilarious and awesome name, but it is a Mecca for mollusk-loving New Yorkers. The heavily mussel-focused menu offers about 2 dozen flavor profiles (and not much else in the non-mussel arena). I like to think of it as a closet full out "outfits" for these beautiful and plump mussels. International cuisines far and wide are represented here, and narrowing down is a serious challenge. A friend and I selected two different kinds and split them both. That's a smart way to go if you are okay with sharing :)

Little Neck -  Fresh Chopped Clams, Bacon, Red Pepper, Breadcrumbs, Herbs $20

We selected the Little Neck, which consists not only of mussels, but also little neck clams, bacon, red peppers, breadcrumbs, and herbs. The breadcrumb component was an appealing factor, as we're both fans of the texture, and it added a really unique element to a dish of steamed mussels (usually breadcrumbs find their way onto baked mollusks, but not those in a broth). The breadcrumbs did start to get soggy as they fell into the broth, but this is an obvious side effect put to rest by the fact that there were plenty of breadcrumbs to go around. The bacon was in large chunks and offered a really smoky element to the dish, which overall was very enjoyable and had a great, flavorful broth.

Bisque - Lobster, Brandy, Tomato, Garlic, Cream $21

My favorite of the two was actually the Bisque option, with featured chunks of lobster, brandy, tomato, garlic, and cream. It had all the flavor of a really delectable lobster bisque, with the added dimension of lots and lots of plump mussels. Soaking up the broth with bread was absolutely divine, but I was also completely okay with taking a spoon to it, just like a soup. Very very flavorful. Would easily order it again.

Flex Donuts - Georgia Peach, Strawberry Shortcake, S'mores, and Cinnamon Sugar with Vanilla Bean Dipping Sauce $9

Perhaps the most exciting part of the meal came with our dessert. We had ordered 4 donuts to share: cinnamon sugar, s'mores, Georgia peach, and strawberry shortcake. Our platter of donuts was actually delivered to our table by none other than Executive Pastry Chef (and Top Chef Just Desserts contestant--and my personal favorite) Zac Young! He brought over our donuts with an apology, stating that they were having problems with their fryer. As I looked up at the bearer of our dessert, I exclaimed, "I know you!" I asked if he could stay and he said they were really backed up because of the fryer, but promised to return later. For what it's worth, these were the most amazing donuts we had ever had. They were fluffy, still hot from the fryer, and absolutely perfect in every way. The fillings were delicious. The strawberry jam in the strawberry shortcake donut was one of the best jams I think I've had... soooo fresh and fruity. It's the real deal.

Zac did as he promised (after apparently spending some time Facebook-ing on his phone by the bar) and we chatted it up for a while. He joked to us about having his intern stir the huge pot of strawberry jam (which along with marshmallow fluff comprised the filling of the strawberry shortcake donuts) non-stop for 5 hours. He made some more jokes (which might be inappropriate to share in case she ever reads this post), and agreed to take photos with us! He was so much fun, and later asked me "Are we Facebook friends?" to which I responded, "No, but we will be by the end of the night." And sure enough we were :O)

With Executive Pastry Chef (and Top Chef Just Desserts star) Zac Young

What a seriously fun and delicious meal. As a mussel lover from way back, I can officially say that Flex Mussels is a great spot to get your mussel fix. The many varieties do not come with fries, but you can easily add on an order as you wish. Dessert is an absolute must! And if you're lucky, Zac will hand deliver your order as well! Next time I've GOT to try his donut bread pudding... it sounds like a sure thing!

Flex Mussels
174 E 82nd St
(between Lexington Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10028
(212) 717-7772

154 W 13th St
(between Avenue Of The Americas & 7th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 229-0222


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