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m. wells extravaganza.

24 Aug 2011

So last week, my friend Tsz asked if I wanted to take a last-minute open spot in an 8-person dinner reservation at M. Wells; without even checking my calendar, I took him up on his offer on the spot. Dinner! M. Wells! With a big group to share a lot of different plates, maybe get a couple of the bigger ones too! Yes!

It ended up being 7 of us in the end, a ragtag group of Asian kids who are all on an eating-out email list run by I think one or two food-minded people.  Hilariously, the one person that the other folks knew in common couldn’t actually make it — I think she made the reservation long ago, not realizing that she’d be in the middle of marathon training.  Alas!

But no matter — we forged ahead anyway, ordering multiple plates of the escargot + bone marrow and lobster rolls; I’d had the snail/marrow before, and it continued to satisfy deeply, an unctuousness that I don’t encounter often in my daily eating.  The lobster rolls were mayo-based and punctuated with Old Bay seasoning, the cold lobster filling marrying nicely with the warm, buttered toasted rolls.  The lobster roll at the Red Hook Lobster Pound remains my favorite in the city, but the M. Wells iteration was still quite delicious. 

The fellas also dug into the steak tartare (not pictured), which appeared to suffer from the same fate that I encountered when I ordered it a few months back — the egg yolk had just set, so there wasn’t a lot of runny eggness to coat the beef with.  We also got the General Tso’s sweetbreads, a dish I’d heard about a while ago and had been angling to get the next time it showed up on the menu.  The flavors didn’t depart that much from your standard General Tso’s [insert whichever meat here], though the texture of the sweetbreads was great, as was the decision to pair the meat with pineapple chunks, giving the dish a nice sweetness to offset the sweetbread funk. 

And the big dishes — oh yes, we ordered a few: the bibiM.Wells, the Wagyu beef tongue, and the Shrimp Chicken.  Of the three, the bibiM. Wells disappointed mightily — a relatively small dish of rice + seafood + veggies + bibimbop sauce, an incredibly small portion of food with not a whole lot of flavor.  Unclear why this was in the ‘big dishes’ section when it would barely feed one moderately hungry person.  But the Wagyu beef made up for that in spaces — lots and lots of tongue, super-tender and not at all uh … tongue-like.    Still hungry, we ordered the Shrimp Chicken, basically a mostly-deboned roasted chicken with a shrimp stuffing that brought out the umami-lovers in all of us.  An unexpected, slightly random delight. 

We ended the meal with one slice of banana cream pie — that was basically all we could eat after the preceding madness.   The guys at the other end of our communal table, who had squeezed four people into a three-person spot, had also stuffed themselves silly, ordering bottle upon bottle of nice wine and offering their server and the owners glasses of wine to toast along with them.   Everyone in the place was in a celebratory mood, and this was just the 6pm seating — there would be two more seatings before the night was over.   I’m not sure what it is about M. Wells that invites such ridiculous bacchanalia-esqueness, but my god, while I’m sad that the restaurant is closing, I’m sort of thankful that I’ll have a little bit of time to recharge, burn off the excess calories, and get back into proper banquet-eating-mode before it opens in its new location, wherever and whenever that may be. 

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