NYC is lucky enough to be so close to the ocean that items like crab, lobster, mussels, scallops, and a variety of fish are just regular entries on a menu.
Landlocked Canadians such as us Edmontonians don’t have that luxury, unfortunately. Nevertheless, Edmonton would do well to invest in a restaurant such as Flex Mussels – a restaurant dedicated solely to these delectable mollusks of the ocean.
I had a fabulous meal with one of my favourite friends whilst dining at Flex Mussels. The concept is simple – they serve mussels. Mussels of all kinds: from Classic (white wine, herbs, garlic), to Bombay (Indian curry, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, white wine), to Maine (lobster, smoked bacon, chowder, parsley). If you love mussels and you’re in NYC, this is the place to go.
The restaurant also offers a variety of other seafood, including oysters, arctic char, octopus, and salmon. There’s even a chicken dish for those who refuse to eat of the sea (those crazy, crazy people).
And, of course, the wine list is extensive. There’s much more variety with the white wines, but they do have some excellent bottles listed under their reds.
The mussel entrées come served in a gigantic pot and range from $19.50 to $25 each, depending on complexity. You can keep it simple with a Fra Diavolo mussel pot, served with San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, red pepper, and garlic, or you can dive into the deep end with a $25 pot of mussels, lobster, San Marzano tomatoes, and croutons – also known as the Bruschetta.
Rachel and I were feeling indulgent, so we both ordered from the higher end of the menu – a Marseille made from bouillabaisse, calamari, shrimp, and rouille for Rachel, and a Bisque with lobster, saffron, tomato, garlic, and cream (they’ve since removed the saffron from this dish) for myself.
Top these heavenly-filled seafood pots off with a bottle of South African Spice Route Chakalaka (2009), and you’ve got a meal that you’ll remember when you’re old, grey, and eating your bland, overcooked chicken breast (fingers crossed I never forget how to use spices).
There was nothing I didn’t like about Flex Mussels. The service was attentive and friendly, the food was amazing (mussels in a saffron cream sauce – my taste buds had a gastronomic orgasm), and the atmosphere was stylish and romantic (if slightly chilly).
Oh, how I wish for a Flex Mussels of Edmonton’s own.
Funnily enough, Flex sources its mussels from the Great Canadian province of PEI…naturally. Alberta isn’t as lucky as to have a piece of the coast to call our own, but our restaurants are managing to get mussels in all the same.
Looking for a good pot of mussels in Edmonton? Here are my go-tos:
- Sicilian Pasta Kitchen Downtown – try their Cozze Gorgonzola or Cozze Siciliana. $20 for a huge bowl of excellent mussels.
- Louisiana Purchase – surprisingly, the Louisiana Purchase has excellent mussels. You don’t get as many as at SPK, but they cost $14 and are just as delicious.
- Istanbul Restaurant – they’re a little unorthodox (already shelled and extremely spicy), but they’re great and only cost $12. Try to finish them all.
This review is, of course, about NYC’s Flex Mussels (of which there are two locations). It’s great. I know a lot of Edmontonians who head to NYC on a yearly basis, so make the effort to eat there. Please. You’ll thank me.
Upper East Side: 174 E 82nd St (this review’s location)
West Village: 154 West 13th St
Open for dinner, Mon-Fri