Archive for August, 2011
M. Wells is a restaurant in Long Island City, Queens cooking Quebecoise-style food and run by a Montreal husband-and-wife team that opened in an old diner last August to rave reviews. After a year they have announced they will be closing the diner to reopen in a new location and format. We’d been dying to get there since last year and we finally squeezed in a visit last weekend. Such was our devotion that we waited an hour and a half in the pouring rain to get seated in the tiny diner, but with good friends in tow we were perfectly happy, especially after we grabbed some coffee, iced-tea, and biscuits from the counter inside.
Oh, and by the way, that biscuit may have been the best I’ve had–especially since it was not even served warm and it was still amazing! It was fluffy and dense at the same time, with no need for extra butter, or anything really–I ate it bare and loved it.
After we finally got seated in a small booth we took in the kitschy surroundings and examined the menu, quickly affirming that there was a lot of meat, mostly pork. Since JudyJams and I both don’t partake in the pig variety, and JJ is basically vegetarian, our options were somewhat limited. I guess those Canadians like their pork! But, we pulled through and everything we had was delicious.
Naturally, we started with a round of Bloody Marys. These were good, but not great. I added pepper to mine, which helped, but it was my least favorite thing we had at the restaurant.
As a lover of lox, I was super excited to order the Gravlax Pie, having heard many great things about it, but unfortunately they were sold out (it was pretty late in the day by the time we sat down), so I substituted with the Seafood Cobbler, which was being made with Pollack that day. When I was told it came with beets I was somewhat skeptical, but it turned out to be a great combination. The fish and beets were accompanied by potatoes as well, all mixed together in a delicious cream sauce, and topped with two biscuit halves covered in yummy melted cheddar cheese. (Yes, that means I ate another biscuit…!) I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish it because it was a bit heavy, but it was so tasty I couldn’t put my fork down.
JudyJams ordered the Gazpacho, which was thickened with bread and had a lovely herb oil on top. It was quite flavorful, but we had clearly ordered too much because it went unfinished. It certainly was not the light, summery gazpacho you might be craving on a hot summer day. She also had the Tortilla, which is nothing like the potato and egg ones they serve in Spain, although it had the same basic ingredients. For starters, it was served hot and fresh from a skillet, and was round in shape (instead of a slice). It was more like a yummy, eggy latka than a Spanish tortilla and it was quite delectable. It’s served with thick slices of country bread from Balthazar.
Our friend Tobey ordered the Beef Tartare, which was divine. The meat was incredibly fresh and tender and almost tasted like tuna it was so creamy. It was decadent and delicious, served with a perfectly poached egg on top and salad on the side. Nothing like some good runny yolk on some amazing raw beef!
Lindserella went with the Sausage and Egg sandwich, which was on a homemade English muffin (a recipe for our own version of this feat to come soon!) with homemade mayo, Vermont cheddar, and pickled jalapenos. She said it was delish, of course, and left not a crumb. We also got French fries for the table, which were perfectly fried and lip-smacking good.
Even though we were stuffed, our waitress convinced us to get a slice of the Maple Pie and we were not sorry. The crust was crumbly and browned and super-yummy, while the filling was a nice fluffy version of a pecan pie filling, but with intense maple flavor. Pure maple syrup was drizzled on top to complete the effect and it worked–we polished it off in no time.
Being that it’s August 22, I suggest you get your butt over to Queens asap to go to M.Wells–you only have until the end of the month! While I’m sure the husband-and-wife owners/chefs’ next venture will be amazing, it’s definitely going to be a new concept, so don’t delay!
JudyJams and I were recently treated to VIP entrance to Celebrate Brooklyn (thanks Loukin Company!) where we got to be front and center for Ra Ra Riot on August 5. It started off in an awesome way when the stage darkened and the band came on to the deafening sounds of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” They then launched into a great set full of songs from albums The Rhumb Line and The Orchard.
You could tell the band was having so much fun, with lead singer Wes Miles commenting numerous times how excited they were to be playing here, at their biggest headlining show, especially because he lived down the street. He also mentioned this was probably the longest set they’d ever played, and his enthusiasm continued right to the end when he jumped off stage and ran through the audience, slapping hands with anyone who offered theirs. His enthusiasm was definitely contagious, as the rest of the band and the crowd were just as exuberant as he was. Their encore included a pretty fabulous version of Steve Winwood’s “Valerie,” the only cover song of the night. They are a great live band, and here’s hoping their next album is as great as The Rhumb Line.
Five Leaves in Greenpoint, Brooklyn originally gained fame as the restaurant that actor Heath Ledger (RIP) had invested in before his death, but it soon was clearly standing on the merit of its excellent food, drinks, and atmosphere. Known for its effortlessly cool vibe as much as its pancakes, we knew we had to check it out. There is usually a wait on the weekends, but it’s worth it.
Now about those pancakes. They are divine. They’re of the ricotta variety, and are served with honeycomb butter and a heap of fresh fruit, including what seemed like 2 whole bananas and tons of blueberries and strawberries. The pancakes themselves are light and fluffy, but packed with flavor. Totally worth the $12.
Also of note is the Fresh Sage Scrambled Organic Eggs (a more reasonable $7), which are actually served sandwich style, on soft crusted bread and topped with aged cheddar. There is a delicious spicy tomato jam on the side that you will soon be slathering all over the fluffy eggs.
If you’re looking for something a little healthier, the salads are pretty fabulous too. The Radicchio & Watercress is chock full of greens, plus yummy roasted acorn squash, feta, and red onions. The Chopped Black Kale salad is for the true kale lover. It is literally a mountain of thinly-chopped kale, topped with a spicy anchovy dressing, thin shreds of smoky gouda (great combo with the kale!), and hazelnuts.
Finally, remaining on the healthier side of things, finish with a Bruleéd Grapefruit served with house pickled ginger and fresh mint or the Fruit Salad, which is overflowing with fresh and sweet fruits, depending on what’s in season. Ours had bananas, berries, apples, and grapes.