With the magnolia and cherry blossom trees in full bloom, the early Spring warm weather brought London alive with visitors and the daylight lasted a lot longer to enable everyone to stay out a little later.
As I was meeting friends for an evening catch up meal, one foodie friend suggested the recently pop-up converted to semi-permanent restaurant called Mussel Men in Dalston on 428 Kingsland Road. Great idea guys!
I’m a huge seafood fan mostly due to the fact that I have lived in coast side towns all of my life. From my earlier days in the port city of Tianjin, with langoustine season in full swing at this time of year, I vividly remember peeling plates of hard-shelled creatures with my loving grandparents and chatting about what I did at school those days. Later in NYC, buckets of lobsters and mussels were great treats during hot long summer holidays as my family feasted on these on the seaside.
The restaurant spot was a short walk from Haggerston station on the Overground line, at a venue that was the formal home of Dead Dolls Club. Bookings are essential as we could only secure a table at 8pm, and I was hungry for some mussels!
The amazing smell of grilled seafood greeted me as soon as I pushed open the front door, which was decorated full with squatting muscular men. Loved the branding! The interior of the restaurant had minimal decorations except an amazing fantasy under-the-sea wall painting on the left hand side.
Friendly waiters all wore nautical inspired clothing and were very attentive for the evening…(especially with our several requests for additional napkins, essential in an all hands on deck situation to work the seafood!)
Most of the items on the menu involved…as you guessed it, moules and frites. For £10, you can get a healthy serving of mussels cooked in different type of sauces with a side of tasty french fries. I highly recommend the mariniere sauce, which is the classic mix of parsley, white wine and the mussel’s own delicious seafoody juices.
We started the night with 3 oysters each. These were massive oversized fresh oysters, which took several attempts for me to slurp it down without looking ridiculous and clumsy. They were especially good with a dash of tabasco and sparing squeeze of lemon juice.
Given that we had a group of six, we opted to go for the sharing menu instead. £45 for 2 people sharing a big portion of mussels and fries served in no-frill cardboard boxes and vintage enamel mugs (I need to get some of these!). A bottle of Prosecco and 2 portions of waffles with a side of bacon ice cream and salted caramel were also thrown in.
The mussels were plump and fresh, I had to dip the mussels several times in the mariniere sauce to get a proper servings of the seafood juices. Don’t expect to remain clean and proper at times like these, just take your 10 digits and dip those in the action. It almost become a bit of friendly competition to see who can finish their mussels the fastest.
As the bottle of prosecco became nearly deplenished, it was time for our dessert waffles to arrive. I couldn’t believe how the guys at Mussel Men managed to make the bacon icecream or how good it tasted! It did however balance perfectly with the salted caramel and a large slice of belgian waffles. I left Mussel Men full and satisfied as I walked back on Kingsland Road.
This is quality fast seafood at its best. 2 thumbs up from New Yorker on this one!