Best Mussels - 2008
Toulouse Café and Bar
If it was a brave man who ate the first oyster, imagine the cojones on the guy who slurped down the first mussel. Its shell, black and pointy, opens to reveal an orange, amorphous mass of meat. Sometimes the smell ain't so great either. But put enough culinary goop on it, spice it and butter it and let it stew in something saucy, and the result is a feast for the senses. Toulouse Café and Bar offers five—count them, five—variations on the mussel theme, in both appetizer and entrée portions. There is our traditional French fave—marinière—which slathers the little critters in garlic, white wine, butter and shallots. For the more adventurous, there's the Thai—coconut milk, yellow curry, tomatoes, lemongrass, ginger, cilantro and lime. Sopping up the sauce with Toulouse's crispy French bread is a culinary imperative. As is a side order of pomme frites—aka french fries with attitude. Nothing brave about eating the last two items unless you use them to chase the taste of the Green Room mussels—jalapeño, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, Champagne and garlic.