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best mussels and fries in Manhattan

b
balki May 18, 2006 09:38 PM

Looking for great (and fresh of course) mussels and crisp fries anywhere in NYC - Thanks!

  1. d
    dkstar1 May 18, 2006 10:09 PM

    My two favorites are:

    Park Bistro
    Artisanal

    Park Bistros mussels have a coconut/jamaican feel that easily beats the moules jamaicain served at Petite Abeille (for example).

    The mussels at Artisanal are equally good but have a tomato, pesto-like broth and comes with especially tasty bread.

    Both are amazing and must-trys...Good thing I live within walking distance of both.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dkstar1
      t
      Tubby Oct 2, 2006 01:25 PM

      The artisanal mussels are great - the broth is out of this world, but they need to work on quality control. Last time I went, on a busy Thursday night, at least half the mussels in the first order were closed (so either bad or not cooked enough). They replaced these with a great order. We then ordered a second round, and about 1/3 were closed.

    2. f
      Foodboy May 18, 2006 10:38 PM

      For me, mussels have to be small, sweet tasting and very clean (no sand), otherwise forget it. I'm not a fan of large, strong smelling mussels (sometimes called "wild mussels") - they're an acquired taste. So having set my likes and dislikes, I would recommend Jubilee, 347 E. 54th St., and Brasserie, 100 E. 53rd Street. By the way, both places make excellent fries as well. I have been disappointed by mussels at Cafe de Bruxelles. It's a nice place to have a beer.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Foodboy
        e
        eastvillagegirl May 18, 2006 11:49 PM

        I totally agree with Foodboy--I love mussels, but not the large ones (New Zealand mussels?). They must be small, sweet and non-fishy smelling. I love Jubilee and Brasserie, as well, but my favorite mussels are at Casimir on Avenue B between 6th and 7th Street. The mussels are great, as well as the fries, and they serve fabulous baguettes to sop up the wonderful broth.
        Casimir is a real find--just try to get there before 8-9 PM to avoid the East Village night crowd/scene.

        1. re: Foodboy
          g
          guttergourmet May 19, 2006 08:12 AM

          Brasserie's mussels have more sand in them than a day at the beach. Cafe de Bruxelles is still the moules and frites king.

          1. re: guttergourmet
            f
            Foodboy May 19, 2006 09:56 AM

            Mussels, being a product of the sea, can and do vary. While it's possible to get mussels with sand in them, my experience at Brasserie has been virtually "sand free." I've eaten mussels there at least 12 times and have never had a problem. I think mussels often come from farm beds that allow for cleaner and more desireable shellfish. When they have that strong odor and taste, it usually means the mussels are from the wild -- not farmed. Wild mussels tend to be sandier, as well. I've had these strong tasting types at Cafe Bruxelles on 2 occasions. I just prefer the smaller, milder tasting variety.

        2. j
          J May 18, 2006 11:57 PM

          I enjoyed the all you can eat moules frites at La Tour 75th and 3rd. I also like Petite Abeille's version.

          1. k
            kwanito May 19, 2006 03:22 AM

            Vol de Nuit (West 4th, right off 6th Ave.) is a Belgian beer bar. They serve respectable fries with various dipping sauces. I've yet to order the mussels, though. It's an option, if you're in the area. Needless to say, the beers are yummy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kwanito
              b
              bigjeff May 19, 2006 05:06 AM

              the beer is great, the fries are addictive, the mussels are actually kinda tasty but the broth is not that impressive, small, relatively sweet, but not too much flavor for the mussels.

              stick w/ the beer and fries, and go elsewhere for moules frite.

            2. t
              tatiana May 19, 2006 10:24 AM

              Markt on 14th and 9th. They have six versions... I've had several, my favorite are the cilantro curry and garlic in cream sauce. Delicious. Plus you can watch the Meatpacking circus parade by as you eat.

              2 Replies
              1. re: tatiana
                d
                dkstar1 May 19, 2006 10:32 AM

                wasn't impressed with the mussels at Markt. Got to be honest with you.

                The fries were weak too.

                1. re: dkstar1
                  e
                  eeee May 19, 2006 10:59 AM

                  my vote is for Cafe de Bruxelles. The mussels are excellent and so are the frites. Plus (this may be a plus or minus) it's AYCE frites - they'll bring more if you finish.

              2. e
                Em May 19, 2006 12:03 PM

                I second Petite Abeille...their version is as close to perfect as I've had.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Em
                  m
                  mrock May 19, 2006 02:35 PM

                  i third. i really liked their moules grand mere with creamy bacon and beer sauce.

                  1. re: mrock
                    Nosher Oct 2, 2006 05:03 AM

                    I'll chime in with a vote for La Petite Abeille. The Moules Grand Mere are wonderful. Plus the garden in the backyard of the new 17th St. location is really cozy and charming.

                    Nosher

                    NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                2. r
                  redbecca May 20, 2006 10:20 AM

                  Am I the only one who votes for Les Halles (downtown)? Those fries are delicious and the mussels are always so perfectly cooked and flavored there. No sand, no grit, not fishy tasting in the least. I've had the curried ones and the billi-bis. Both were good. I thought the ones at Petite Abeille were Ok, not spectactular.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: redbecca
                    julesj66 Oct 1, 2006 03:26 AM

                    I recently had the curry ones at Les Halles downtown & agree they were awesome. Wish the Park Ave branch offered diff choices of broth. I went to Cafe de Bruxelles for the 1st time this eve and had the curry ones; good, but I think I preferred the broth at Les Halles. I have had mussels at Petite Abielle on 20th & 1st but have only the basic garlic, white wine and plan on trying others. I think I overheard someone say "don't bother opening them if they're closed, it means they're bad" Is this true? I did open 1 or 2 that were closed & they looked kind of funky so didn't eat.

                    1. re: julesj66
                      MaspethMaven Oct 1, 2006 11:42 AM

                      Yes, this is true. Mussels that remain closed do so because they were dead before they were cooked. Recall that like other bivalves, unless flash frozen and/or pre-schucked, they must be live at prep time.

                      I happen to enjoy the mussels and fries at Paladar. The mussels come in a lovely, smoky chipotle-tequila-lime broth, and the fries are crisp, sweet, and come with the house made ketchup-also smokey (maybe its chiles).

                  2. h
                    hongrynyc Oct 1, 2006 04:11 AM

                    Petite Abeille.

                    1. t
                      theannerska Oct 1, 2006 04:36 AM

                      I actually had great moules frites at Jules, on St. Marks - it seems like it's been around for a while, I was taken there by a friend. The mussels were served in a great wine broth, and the frites were perfect.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: theannerska
                        a
                        Aurorasbored Oct 1, 2006 10:40 AM

                        I don't know about the mussells there but Jules's is fantastic wth things with shells-- the escargot were out of this world.

                      2. p
                        plf515 Oct 1, 2006 01:17 PM

                        Also good is Bistro Citron on Columbus btwn 82 and 83.

                        Not as many options as some pleaces (just 3 choices) but they've been very fresh and tasty when we had them

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: plf515
                          c
                          ceeceee Oct 1, 2006 03:17 PM

                          i had moules marienieres at le singe vert in chelsea the other night and found them simple and succulent. only two closed ones in the bunch, no sand, no grit, perfect broth. mmm...and the fries were so crispy!

                        2. s
                          Simon Oct 1, 2006 03:22 PM

                          i haven't been there in a while, but i've enjoyed them at Le Jardin Bistro (Cleveland Pl) in the past

                          1. b
                            Briek Oct 1, 2006 04:42 PM

                            I really enjoyed the mussels at Jubilee on 54th Street. They have a variety of flavors - but the curry coconut ones are my favorite!!

                            1. m
                              meatfan Oct 2, 2006 04:52 AM

                              Les Hales (i think there are two locations one downtown on John Street and the other possibly Midtown - not sure where) They have great muscles and frittes! If you ever get the chance to go to Long Island - you can go to Water Zoi in Garden City or Rockville Centre - they are a huge variety of muscles - my favorite is in a lobster bisque with amazing chunks of lobster!

                              1. l
                                Liquid Sky Oct 2, 2006 03:52 PM

                                BRUXELLES on Greenwich Ave. When I was living in the West Village, this was a regular stop. Great quality mussels, fries and Belgian beer.

                                Now if only they could change the weird lighting inside...

                                1. g
                                  Grits Oct 2, 2006 05:46 PM

                                  I add my vote to Bruxelles - moules are delicious, you can choose from about a dozen sauces, and the frites and beer are great as well.

                                  I also tried the mussel appetizer with a side of old bay fries at Mermaid Inn the other day. The fries were off the hook - they tasted like they'd been fried at least twice, and were just addictively crispy and well-seasoned with the old bay. The mussels were tasty as well.

                                  1. s
                                    Sweatshirt Guy Oct 2, 2006 06:42 PM

                                    Cafe de Bruxelles is my choice if I had to pick one. Great frites and the mussels are solid with enough choices that are executed well enough to please anyone. Nice wine list and great choices in beer. Plus they shot an episode of Law and Order there.

                                    1. d
                                      dbird Nov 12, 2006 01:10 AM

                                      Florent has a great moules frites, and for a dollar extra they will substitute a very good salad in lieu of fries should you prefer to focus on bread for sopping, as I do. (Fries are like cigarettes: the first taste is great but everything after drags you down).

                                      I have had a love-hate relationship with Cafe des Bruxelles for more than a decade. I love the food, the wine and the beer (actually, the corsendonck/s I had there a couple years ago may have been the only beer I have enjoyed this century), and the persistent counter-fashionability of it all. But the quality of the welcome and the overall treatment by the host (not the wait staff) leaves me resolving after every visit not to return. I generally stick to my guns for 3 or 4 years and then give it another try before I am discouraged again. I had been a regular for about a year--and I knew the host recognized me as such-- when I discovered after one solo dinner that I had forgotten my wallet. When I spoke with him about the situation and suggested I could leave my license and return with payment that night or the next day, he accused me of trying to cheat him. (Ultimately I reached a friend who arrived to save me from this comical humiliation). On a more recent occasion, I came in, looked around and saw no one (mid afternoon on a bright fall weekend), so headed to the rest room before searching further for some one to seat me. Half way down the stairs he appeared at the top and called urgently, 'can I help you, where are you going?', as if he had caught me on a mission to abscond with the fixtures from his nasty loo. I stayed for the late lunch I had anticipated, both out of helpless bivalve craving and the realization that as the only patron I might cause him greater discomfort than he had caused me (can schadenfreude be prospective?). The mussels were perfect and the service fine, and I was not sorry to see him mope at the end of the bar as several couples poked their heads in and departed quickly during the course of my meal, doubtless to join the lines outside every unimpressive food emporium around Greenwich and 13th....

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