Blue cheese and mussels, celery and spritz – two combos that had never really occurred to me…until now. I am officially a convert, and will be making regular trips to Helmholtzplatz’s Muschel Bar, which has been serving seafood delights since January 2023. The name says it all: this place serves mussels (blue mussels to be precise) and little else. It’s all very consistent and to the point. Owner Martin is an experienced restaurateur, having previously run the Gasthaus Figl pizzeria on Urbanstraße. Martin decided to start a completely different business, one reduced to a single dish: moules frites! The mussels here are served on simple enamel plates and eaten at high wooden tables that give the place a bar-like feeling. Outside, you can make yourself comfortable at one of the little bistro tables. This setup wasn’t the original plan: the intention was to open a Levantine bistro, but life intervened and the venue – a former Imbiss – reopened as a mussel bar.
Small decorative objects behind the counter and on shelves bear witness to the previous plans, while cast-iron pots – used to prepare the mussels – highlight the current dish of choice. With a tiled floor and an eclectic matte-earthy color scheme, the eatery looks authentic and at ease. It’s a fun place to meet up with your mussel-loving friends (not too many, though: the restaurant is small). We ate our way through all three menu items and would be hard pressed to say which was our favorite. There’s the light white wine and vermouth mussels or the classic Provençal version with tomato, fennel, celery and saffron. We were big fans of the blue cheese mussels, which, we learned, are actually a classic (clearly we are due an educational trip to the French coast). All three plates are enjoyable, homemade variations on the classic recipes. There’s little crazy, new and wild about this place – it’s all unpretentious, unhip, rustic, casual and delicious. Besides the french fries (a must), we also tried the poutine (one portion is more than enough for one person). The dish will also keep vegetarians happy: instead of chicken gravy, this French-Canadian comfort food is made with homemade blue cheese. If you do end up in a food coma (not unlikely), barman Sven will be happy to serve you a tart celery kombucha or celery spritz with sparkling wine – our aperitif trend for 2023. One thing’s for sure: you’ll leave this mollusc Mecca full and in a good mood.
Text: Nina Trippel / Fotos: Savannah van der Niet