While my parents were in town a couple weekends ago we went to dinner at a place on the UES called “Flex Mussels.” I have been dying to try it. Ever since I moved to Yorkville, multiple people have mentioned it as one of their go-to neighborhood restaurants. I love seafood, plus I had heard they make amazing donuts. My hopes were pretty high for a place whose name is a fitness and food related play on words.
I’m also a lazy eater- I like my meal to be easy. In order to have a mussel that tasted Thai, I needed to pick it out with my fork, transfer it to my spoon, and use the spoon to scoop up some of the broth. And after a while, it didn’t seem worth it.
I guess I didn’t realize just how popular a place Flex Mussels is, because when I called to make a reservation, the first available one was for 9:30 that night (granted, it was a Saturday). When we got there, we realized we easily could have just sat at the bar and walked in whenever. We were led to a table in the back of the restaurant. The atmosphere was nice- clean, uncluttered, with lots of beach pictures. But the chairs were hard and metal and it was cold in there!
The service was fine, and I give our waiter credit for listening to my parents and I argue about which seasonal vegetable to order (“But I just ate so much asparagus!” “Mushrooms are bad for my gout.” “I love spinach!” “Spinach is so boring!”) When our food came out, he magically had a plate of asparagus and mushrooms- thanks for trying to make everyone happy, Mr. Waiter!
Obviously, the main attraction of this restaurant is its mussels. But the rest of the menu looked delicious too, and so we decided to choose two mussels and a non-mussel entrée. First to come out was the bread, which I was highly anticipating. Everyone knows that the best part of eating a pot of mussels is when you take a hunk of bread and dip it in all the leftover broth. Come on, you know that, right? Sadly, this bread wasn’t anything to write home about. I wasn’t a big fan, maybe due to the sourdough-y taste of it - heavy on the sour.
My choice of mussel pot were the Thai mussels- served in a curry coconut broth with lemongrass, coriander, lime, garlic and ginger. I love Thai and curry tasting things- so I thought this was pretty delicious. However, it wasn’t the “WOW” I was looking for and was incredibly salty.
(Unfortunately, Flex didn't have great food photography lighting!)
Dad’s choice had a little more “oomph” to it- a pot of mussels “Cleopatra,” topped with lump crab meat, saffron, fennel, cream and basil (super light, right?) This was PACKED with crab meat, so A+ on not being stingy.
I definitely recommend ordering a pot that comes with something in addition to the mussels – like the Mediterranean that comes with shrimp or the Mexican that comes with chorizo and calamari. Now that I look back at the menu, I’m not really sure what I was thinking with the Thai. Oh well, live and learn!
We went back and forth on a couple of options for the non-mussel meal before settling on the crab cakes served with jicama slaw and sesame Dijon. These may have been my favorite part of the meal- well really, the jicama slaw was my favorite part of the meal. With the Dijon sauce a close second. The crab cakes weregood though- and again, not skimpy on the crab meat.
As I mentioned before, we also got a side of asparagus and mushrooms. They were asparagus and mushrooms. Dad insisted on the truffle fries and I wrongly assumed that my distaste for truffle-flavored things would stop me from eating a ton of fries. That assumption was wrong. That being said- I still do not like the taste of truffle. But pro tip: when you dip things in enough aioli- you can drown out the taste.
The best part of Flex Mussels was hands down the dessert. I am on a new donut RAMPAGE. Like, donuts are >>> all right now. And these donuts are at the top of the list. Seriously. I am on the hunt for something to beat Flex Donuts (more to come on how the search is going) but I’m not quite sure they’re beatable.
First of all, I am a sucker for things that are filled. I don’t like cupcakes, but I liked Crumbs cupcakes because they were bursting with ooey gooey deliciousness inside. If I’m getting a donut, 9 times out of 10 I’m choosing a jelly or Boston Crème. So Flex Donuts are just my speed- deep fried balls of dough stuffed with magical fillings.
“We need to try 6 of them. Not only 4. I can’t pick only 4 flavors.” I told my parents. My parents aren’t dessert people, but they too fell in love after one bite of these crispy, light, airy, doughy donuts. I will say that they are greasy. You are not going to feel great about yourself after eating 6 of these. But your taste buds are going to be happier than they’ve been in…possibly ever.
(SO SO SO GOOD!)
Cinnamon Sugar, PB&J, Fluffernutter, Salted Caramel, S’more and my mom’s choice- Wild Blueberry. We tried them one at a time, savoring every incredible bite. They were warm, and you could dunk them into vanilla bean dipping sauce that was actually just melted down vanilla bean ice cream- which explains why it was so creamy (my guess is they use Haagen-Dazs- that was some quality vanilla bean ice cream!) I honestly don’t know which was best- I might have to go with the Salted Caramel, although Fluffernutter was up there.
I happily rolled out of Flex Mussels- slightly disappointed in the mussels, but newly addicted to donuts. Beware, your life will be changed by Flex Donuts.
Flex Mussels has two locations – 154 West 13th Street and 174 East 82nd Street. You should also check out their Happy Hour – when you can get certain pots of mussels and a side of fries for $15. They also offer special prices on clam strips, oysters, fish tacos, oyster sliders and $5 fries. Wine and beer are $5-$7.