Flex Mussels, clever right?
I heard about this place from numerous friends, but have not been able to go until now. For all of our blog followers, I (Liz) have to dine without Steve every now and again due to our schedules. So, my friend Karen invited me out and insisted on this restaurant. We decided on their 13th street location, but they do have another establishment on 82nd street.
At the last minute I made a reservation on Open Table (I highly recommend to do that because this place fills up fast).
I was pleasantly greeted from the hostess who could not seat me without my complete party. While waiting for Karen I bought a glass of Tablelands Sauvgnion Blanc. It was light bodied, semi dry and carried notes of grapefruit, grass and citrus. Perfect glass to start an evening.
The bar was small but comfortable. Many guests sitting at the bar had a a pot of mussels which gave an irresistible aroma in the front of the house. The music had a cool, laid back modern vibe of songs and artists that I personally love (Mumford and Sons, Modest Mouse, Sia, etc. ).
When Karen arrived she also got a glass of wine at the bar (they have happy hour at the bar only, highly recommend that as well) and then we were seated for dinner.
After we were seated Karen immediately said “That candle is a fire hazard and I apologize if my menu catches on fire.” I though she was exaggerating but we moved the candle from the center of the table, off to the side (once again, really recommend this). A few minutes later we smelled “burning” and the table behind seared their menu. A waiter rushed over and said, “Don’t worry this happens all the time.”
Good call Karen.
I am aware that some people prefer mussels simply steamed with a squeeze of lemon so that they can enjoy the meaty, salty, delicious essence of a mussel. But I must warn you, before you read any further, that I am a sauce girl. The sauce will honestly make or break my mussel experience. At Flex Mussels, they have 23 flavor options!
Karen ordered the Fra Diavolo, which was San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, red pepper and garlic. I went for the San Danielle, which consisted of prosciutto, caramelized onions, white wine and garlic. We also ordered a side of hand cut fries.
Both dishes came out in these large pots. As soon as the lids were removed by the waiters, the steam and delectable smell hits you all at once. It was heavenly.
Thank goodness they provide you with a large spoon because I was sipping my sauce like it was soup! The combination of the onions, wine and garlic were harmonious and well balanced. The prosciutto was good, but it became hard and cooked through after sitting in the sauce for a few minutes. It also made the dish saltier than I would have preferred. But would I go back and order that dish again? Yes I would!
Karen’s dish was in a light tomato sauce that did not overwhelm the the mussels which I appreciated. It also had a nice kick of heat that made the dish more exciting. The fresh basil added to the freshness that engulfs your senses as reach into the pot for more mussels.
Their Prince Edward Island mussel was plump and mouthwatering.
Our waiter was very kind and the staff in general was very attentive. In my opinion, there are two minor issues that could use improvement:
1) The food took awhile. Not a long, long wait…..but I would say we waited over 20 minutes for our entrees after ordering. I’m not usually concerned about waiting since I like to take my time and enjoy myself, but we had a show to attend after dinner. To give the establishment credit, we never told them we were in a hurry, however we didn’t expect the wait either.
2) We finished our wine and had to wait awhile before the waiter noticed and offered us another glass. Once again, I know this is picky! But it did stop the flow of the evening and we did have to look around to flag someone down.
Now for the dessert.
Our waiter insisted that I order the doughnuts. They had numerous flavor options but I chose, S’mores, Hazelnut, Salted Caramel and Strawberry shortcake accompanied with a vanilla cream dipping sauce.
I don’ know why I assumed they would be smaller but they give you a full sized doughnut! I wish I could tell you which was my favorite, but I can’t. The doughnut itself comes out warm and soft. All the fillings just ooze out as you take your first bite. I’ve had many gourmet doughnuts in NYC but these may be the best. I can’t wait to go back to try the other flavors!
Overall I enjoyed my experience and I can’t wait to go back!
**Out of a possible 5 stars, here’s what we thought….
Décor: 3 star Service: 3 stars
Beverage List: 4 star Food: 4 stars
Location: 4 star Overall: 4 stars
Cost: $20 – $45 per person
Flex Mussels (13st)
154 W 13th St
New York 10011