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A Little Twist to the Classics

July 4, 2011

One of the most memorable meals from my trip to Montreal two summers ago was a late night feast at Au Pied de Cochon of duck carpaccio and pied de cochon topped with lobes of foie gras.  When I found out that merely 10 minutes on the 7 train would be able to transport me back to that warm bustling table tucked away next to the open kitchen 331 miles away, I knew I could not resist for long.  M. Wells, the old fashion diner car in Long Island City, had a menu with just that little bit of Au Pied de Cochon I was looking for on this side of the border (not a surprise considering that owners are APC alums).  The food might appear to be familiar ones at first glance (think pot pie, oysters, bibimbap), but M. Wells keeps things interesting by incorporating a few twists and turns that drew me (with DC, one of my travel companions to Montreal, in tow) in for a trip to Hunter’s Point in Long Island City.

M. Wells In the evening rays

Settling down at the end of a rustic dining table facing a setting sun and the tip of the Chrysler building peaking through the window, DC and I began the much anticipated meal.

Oysters with Coffee Sabayon

A starter of oysters topped with coffee sabayon – while the combination was not what my mouth was not expecting to like, the flavors complimented each other surprisingly well.  However, the room temperature oysters lacked the crispness and freshness of raw oysters I was craving.

Bone Marrows with Escargots

Judging from the completely bare bone at the end, our second appetizer of the night, the bone marrow studded with escargots, clearly outshone the oysters.  A spread of the glistening creamy bone marrow flavored with garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs on a crunchy toast combined with the rich and earthy escargot left me wanting more.  Who would have thought roasted bone marrow could get that much better?

Bacalao Magasin - salted cod with omelet and shrimp

The Bacalao Magasin was last minute decision made as we were waiting to be seated.  The terra cotta pot of fragrant salted cod stew with fresh peas, shrimp, omelet, and tomatoes piqued our attention so we had to give it a shot in our lineup.  While it was a beautiful plate with elements that worked well together, the cod at times overwhelmed its mild companions if you were not careful to get a forkful of everything.  Perhaps a few pieces of crusty bread would have balanced the overall saltiness of the dish.

M. Wells Bibimbap with Foie Gras

Our second choice of entree won a resounding applause from us both.  Instead of your typical bibimbap, M. Wells decided to dress up the dish we have come to know.  Slices of fresh raw scallops, studs of razor clams and oysters mingled with the creamy avocado and crunchy apple slices, punctuated by the spicy chili paste coated rice kernels.  At the urge of our waitress, we opted for foie gras to join the party.  While I am someone who will always say that foie gras can do no wrong, this was a dish that could have done without that extra layer of richness.

We had in mind another dish to round out the meal that night but unfortunately, our crab bread pudding found its way to the table behind us.   After reassessing our near capacity stomachs, I can say that it was actually fortunate that our neighbors were able to enjoy a double portion of the dish instead of us!  Another day, crab bread pudding, another day.

Banana Cream Pie

Even though we were nearly full, there was room for dessert that night.  Compared to the rest of its menu, M. Wells serves a list of rather more traditional diner offerings:  Pineapple upside down cake, chocolate tart, coconut cream pie, etc.  After consulting our waitress, we ordered a slice of the banana cream pie with a hint of doubt lingering in our minds.  What can this pie offer us on top of such an unusually flavored meal?  Will there be a hidden surprise in the cream or will the pie come decomposed into its flavor elements?  One forkful of this light and delicately sweetened banana cream pie shoved any doubts away.  Thin slices of ripe bananas lined the flaky buttery crust, topped with a vanilla custard with whipped cream.  The custard and cream were subtly sweet to allow the bananas to really shine as the main attraction.  It was truly the perfect closer to a decadent meal.

When we gently pushed past the crowd of hopefuls waiting at the bar for a table and stumbled into the now dark night satiated, I look back before heading into the underground.  Perhaps not every dish tonight was one that will linger on my mind and taste buds, but there were still plenty of other classics with new twists on the menu.  Plenty more for me to want to hop on the 7 and venture back into Long Island City for another great evening or perhaps brunch at M. Wells.

M. Wells | 21-17 49th Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101(718) 425-6917 | mwellsdiner.com/

One Comment leave one →
  1. Maki permalink
    July 5, 2011 11.12 am

    Great post! Lets go for brunch sometime soon!!

    Congrats on the blog 🙂

    M

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