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Mussel Bar in Atlantic City, N.J.

U.S. Brunch Review
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Update from the Bitches: Mussel Bar is now closed in Atlantic City.

My boyfriend makes a point of celebrating the holidays with his family. Not his actual, immediate family, though. Rather, the family that he grew up with—the grade school and high school cohorts who have been by his side for 25-plus years.

Each December, the close-knit group makes an annual pilgrimage together to bond, reminisce, and celebrate. Sounds really sweet, right? I was touched.

Except for the fact that for the past five years, that pilgrimage has been to Atlantic City; and that bonding and celebratory revelry has been nothing short of debaucherous, drunken running amok around casinos.

This year, I was invited. My boyfriend looks forward to this all year; he was supremely excited. I was absolutely terrified. And so the group of us made our way down the corridors of hell, all the way to the lit-up dance floor at Boogie Nights.

Joking aside, the weekend turned out to be a blast. We gambled, we shopped, we stuffed our faces, we partied our tails off. Heck, I even won a few Benjamins on the blackjack table and finished my Christmas shopping, all in one afternoon!

By the time Sunday rolled around, we were dragging ourselves to the grande finale: brunch at Mussel Bar & Grille, which is in Atlantic’s City shiniest, newest, cleanest casino, Revel. It even has a patio; you know, an indoor-outdoor-casino-fresh-oxygen patio.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

Nearly immediately after we arrived, we were beckoned to the Bloody Mary bar. Oddly enough, all the men at the table ordered mimosas, and all the ladies went straight for the vodka.

The Bloody Mary bar at Mussel Bar is one of the most impressive (and beautiful) I’ve seen. It’s not huge, but it offers all the fixings you could wish for: various types of tomato juice, plenty of different hot sauces, bacon, celery, pickles, olives, tomatoes, salt—you name it.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

I don’t love Bloody Marys, but when I have endless options and I can make mine exactly how I like it (with a kick of spice, but not too much, stirred with bacon), then I’m a fan. Meanwhile, the boys drank their mimosas with their pinkies out. Hah!

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

The weekend recap conversation ensued over our drinks. The highlight of this year’s revelry? One girlfriend actually sped out of town in a huff, clipping her boyfriend with her car on the way out of the parking garage. Time to hand out the Bitch citations!

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

There were a few late-night cell phone videos of drunken antics being passed around the table when three big skillets of mussels arrived on the table. Each was filled to the brim with a pound of Penn Cove mussels soaking in different sauces: wild mushrooms with applewood-smoked bacon and truffle cream; white wine with roasted garlic, parsley and cream; and the best (in my opinion), cave-aged Gruyere, with fingerling potatoes, pancetta, gremolata in a garlic leek broth.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

The bread on the side was toasted perfectly and great for dipping. And two big orders of pommes frites with various ketchups and curry mayonnaise arrived, as well.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

We were all a bit full after those thick Bloody Marys, mussels, and fries—and we hadn’t even started on the proper brunch menu! The chef, Robert Wiedmaier, knows a thing or two about keeping you satisfied at brunch. His restaurants in Washington—including Mussel Bar and Brasserie Beck—have been similarly filling.

There were only four options on the brunch menu, but that proved to be plenty. We tried them all.

The blueberry and granola pancakes were very tasty. The reason? They were served with a dollop of whipped ricotta on top and a Belgian sugar syrup on the side. A few blueberries were scattered about the plate. And three strips of smoked bacon were on the side.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

Of course I ordered the South Jersey Benedict. It arrived with a freakishly huge pepperoncini in between the two muffins. Those English muffins were topped with plenty of arugula and piles of pork roll. The poached farm eggs were cooked perfectly, but there was just a drizzle of Hollandaise on top. I wanted more.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

The breakfast BLT was quite impressive. The griddled house-made bun was stuffed with smoked bacon, local arugula, vine ripe tomatoes, and a fried egg. White cheddar fondue was drizzled inside, too. It was stacked so high it had to be held together with a skewer. On the side, home fries and curry ketchup.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

Fried chicken and waffles was the prettiest of the dishes. It arrived on a wooden cutting board with a skewer through two big pieces of crisp natural chicken. Two waffle quarters had a big dollop of chile butter on top. And on the side, you got an entire bottle of bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup to smother the dish with.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

We were so focused on the food and the weekend’s stories that we hadn’t even noticed the beautiful decor of the restaurant. Knotted oak floors made it feel very warm. The bar is actually made with embedded mussel shells. The light fixtures are beer bottles and heavy ropes. Even the restrooms are positively gorgeous.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

The service was friendly, prompt, and hardly noticeable—the best kind. Mussel Bar turned out to be the perfect post-holidays brunch spot on the Jersey shore.

Mussel Bar & Grille in Atlantic City

The Bitches say: A. Great hangover brunch in debaucherous Atlantic City.

Mussel Bar by Robert Wiedmaier
Revel
500 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

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