The guys from Mussel Men have been extremely popular on the street food circuit and have been enchanting Londoners with their friendly nautical banter and of course their outrageously fresh seafood offerings. Since 2014, they have set up a permanent home in the ultra-hip part of Dalston. The quirky restaurant is decorated with various marine-themed decorations from fish nets to miniature tug boats to a giant mural with an assortment of the weird and wonderful creatures of the sea.
They have a hidden, cosy back garden perfect for outdoor barbecues and general rendezvous with friends over Mussel Men’s innovative cocktails and they even have a private dining room in the form of the Captain’s Quarters, which can hold up to 20 guests for birthday parties and other celebrations.
For starters, their hand dived scallops weren’t particularly large but they were pillowy and fresh-tasting and given interesting textural contrast with haggis crumble and seasonal asparagus. The cumbrae oysters were firm and meaty, with an established salty nose and had strong flavours of wood and nuts. It is great when a venue offers complimentary bread and butter; they offer a special homemade smoked butter and is served on top of a beautiful scallop shell.
The only letdown of the visit was the mediterranean bisque that accompanied the smooth and delicate mussels. With a bisque, you do expect something creamy and thick and even the helpful waitress said the shells of the lobster would be kept in the bowl to further enhance the flavours. However, what I got was something more akin to a healthy dose of tomato broth with only the shells of the mussels being present. Saying that, the main ingredient of the dish, the mussels were as fresh as you would expect from the guys who specialise in the dish as their core business. There is a decent portion of skinny fries to make sure the main course is filling enough for your meal.
They have really excelled in their nautical themed cocktail list. Personally the highlight was the Mussel Mary; which is their take on the classic bloody Mary using mussel broth as an added ingredient. It adds an extra level of complexity to the cocktail and the salty taste from the broth matches well with the other ingredients. They are working with a host of esteemed mixologists and brands to host a variety of interactive evenings to learn more about spirits and cocktails. In fact they hold regular special evenings like Lobster Tuesdays, so it is always worth checking on their website to see what fantastic fun evenings you can have with the Mussel Men.