Flex Mussels | 174 E 82nd St. (bet. 3rd and Lexinton Aves.) | 212.717.7772 | www.flexmusselsny.com

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD ME excitedly expound upon the "foodification" of Yorkville, my Upper East Side Manhattan neighborhood. I've been repeated the names of Cascabel Taqueria and Luke's Lobster, and have expressed some doubt about the any supposed advantage of adding a Shake Shack to the area.

But one of the first "new order" neighborhood restaurants to appear in the neighborhood was the UES' second mussels & frites place—the first one was actually a special at one of our now closed "old order" restos. It's called Flex Mussels, and it's been doing brisk business for the last few years.

I finally got my butt over there—for the very first time, mind you—to finally sample their wares, having been a lifelong fan of bivalves. The tony front of house belied a more grand and homier interior. Classic; none too formal yet intimate.

I started with raw oysters first, with a small sampling of large, meaty, silky, creamy, briny, tasty Mystic oysters.

I easily could have eaten another ten of those, but had to save room for the main course, a pot of Prince Edward Islands mussels served San daniele-style in a hot and very rich broth with San Daniele prosciutto, white wine, caramelized onions, and garlic, with an order of hand-cut fries.

Being a seafood fan, I was at first going to order any of the varieties of their mussel prep that included other seafoods such as shrimp or lobster, but I love mussels to be the "stars" of the dish, as they were here, plump and proud with their deep oceanic flavor and one of a kind texture accented on more than one level by porky ham strips, sweet onion, aromatic white and earthy garlic.

Using the rest of the bread to sop up as much of the leftover broth as possible (as well as using the rest of my fries which, although near-perfect when they first come out hot, were rendered only serviceable once they cooled by dipping in the still excellent broth as well), I was happily sated by the bottom of the pot, and became envious of the customers who started filling the place quickly by around 7 o'clock. Envious because many of them seemed to be long time regulars and have taken better advantage of the privilege of having a local place that serves great mussels (at a very fair price, I might add) than I have.

Not anymore, as I now include the relatively "old" Flex Mussels into my "new" restaurant repertoire.

Bun Apple Tea!


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Flex Mussels | 174 E 82nd St. (bet. 3rd and Lexinton Aves.) | 212.717.7772 | www.flexmusselsny.com