The best fresh-cooked mussels in town

The best fresh-cooked mussels in town
Brendan Rees

If you’re looking for a fresh and delicious seafood treat, you might want to check out The Mussel Pot at the iconic Queen Victoria Market (QVM).

Its owner Alex Drysdale, a former mussel farmer of 30 years, offers raw and cooked mussels sourced from a reputable farm in Portarlington, which are prepared from his little mobile van at the bottom of the market’s A Shed.

“It all started with a mussel farmer trying to promote the mussel industry – that’s what started it and that’s how it still is,” he said, adding he was passionate about sharing a delicious experience with his customers.

His popular van regularly sees a line of people queuing up for lunch, particularly tourists who eagerly await to indulge in his mussel creations, whether grilled or steamed, including his best seller: steamed chilli coconut mussels.

While offering a range of flavours and sauces including grilled tomato, chilli and cheese, Mr Drysdale said it was the classic side serving of “crusty bread which everyone loves”.

“Most people do them in paellas and the mussels are mixed with a lot of other different things whereas we just cook mussels, nothing else,” he said.

For those who may never have tried mussels, he laughed, saying that “We have converted a lot of people; don’t worry about that”.

Mr Drysdale said he loved working at QVM, where he has been based for the past 11 years with most of his staff coming from all over the world.

His business initially began by selling mussels from a boat in Geelong before Mr Drysdale bought a van with his former business partner Pixie and fitted it with a custom-built kitchen. Since becoming part of the QVM community, he said The Mussel Pot had continued to grow.

“We built this little van cause because it doesn’t sink and you’re not having to take it out of the water and paint it,” he said.

Such is his popularity today, Mr Drysdale said they had featured on many television shows and even had an article published in the New York Times, as well as in a US food blog.

So, what makes The Mussel Pot so unique? “We’re fairly priced … everything’s cooked fresh,” he said, adding he kept things simple.

“We don’t phone orders and there’s no Deliveroo – none of that rubbish. Customers just queue up; that’s the way we’re going to operate and we’re not going to change that.”

The Mussel Pot is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 9am to 3pm; and Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 4pm. •

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