I was blown away by the iron-skillet mussels last night at Wild Honey on Main in Port Washington. Mussels are usually a restaurant safe bet since the raw ingredients—Prince Edward Island mussels—are among the sea’s most consistent, and all you need to do to cook them is apply heat. But rarely are mussels transcendent, as they were last night.
At this offshoot of Oyster Bay’s Wild Honey, which opened in July, the mussels are placed in a screaming-hot, cast-iron skillet with salt and pepper. By the time they open, all liquid has scorched away, leaving the mussels with an ineffable smokiness that is enhanced by the browned clarified butter served alongside. Best. Mussels. Ever.
It was a hard act to follow and, in fact, none of our perfectly acceptable main courses approached the level of the mussels. We had ordered a chicken-and-pasta bowl, a seafood gumbo and a well-cooked veal chop that was served with cauliflower au gratin and asparagus that were too bready and too mushy. Mac and cheese was bland; a side dish of bok choy and sugar snap peas muddied by red peppers. I did love the warm, freshly baked rolls, though.
Service and atmosphere could not have been better. Wild Honey on Main is the kind of friendly, accomplished American bistro that every town deserves and few get.
Wild Honey on Main is at 172 Main St., Port Washington, 516-439-5324.