12/20/2012 10:40:00 AM

Best Thing We Ate This Week: Mussels at Growlers

You know you’re eating really great mussels when you want to pick the whole bowl up and tip the juices directly into your mouth. At Growlers in Bella Vista, you don’t even need this undignified maneuver, because the rich broth is stocked with so many caramelized leeks and chunks of chorizo, it’s almost like a stew. After you snap up all the shellfish - and there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch - the remaining liquid and bits are a second meal in themselves, complemented by two huge slices of crusty grilled bread.

Chef Jerry Donahue recently swapped out the beer he uses to steam the mussels - the previous one was making the broth too bitter. He now includes Allagash White in the mix, and the result is a sweet base that’s a perfect foil for the salinity of the mollusks. There are several other worthy bar snacks at this new pub from Starr-alum Jay Willard and Midtown Village proprietor Jason Evenchik (Vintage, Time, Bar). The housemade potato chips are light and not greasy, and the wings are especially notable - opt for the secret recipe house sauce, which tastes kind of like a chipotle sweet and sour (267-519-3242).

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