There was a review of a French diner in the NY Times. It was still early in the evening so we gave it a shot... As we popped out of the subway station at Hunters Point, it was a bit confusing, not being familiar with Long Island City and all. The source of comfort was merely steps away though. That comfort cames in the form of a French diner. It had the Clark Kent of restaurant exteriors. Much like the comic book hero, the outside did not give clues to the true nature of what laid within. Inside was something unfamiliar and delicious.
The Caesar Salad ($7) was noted by Sifton as "comforting" and he even compared it to art. This art took on the same personal as the restaurant itself. Familiar yet a little different at its base. There were no supernatural things going on with the salad except that it's made with a smoked herring dressing. It's almost like eating a salad while you're at a backyard BBQ. The smoke hugs your taste buds instead of your clothes. This was simple and delightful.
Then the review mentioned a "first-rate" dish that's an "absolute must-order." Veal brains ($15). Sifton was right. Here, Clark becomes Superman. The soft and velvety brains were covered in Grenoblois sauce and super crunchy croutons. These brains blew my mind. My mouth sent strange signals to my brain and it was a flavor and texture that I always wish I had known. This French comfort food dish was like kissing your childhood crush, even if you never got the chance.
After all that, what could top it? Could pigs fly? The suckling pig soared. It did both in my mouth and in my wallet, since it's $67 dollars and feeds two. The menu mentioned pineapple, cherries, and foie gras. The piggy had crispy skin on the outside and the foie gras was as soft as the veal brains. After making my way through the meat, I was gnawing on the bones for every last bit. It wasn't until after the meal that Steph reminded me they actually left off the cherries. Coulda fooled me.
Following Sifton's review and tips, I could see how this restaurant garnered two stars. Of course there will be detractors, but M. Wells serves up really flavorful food in a comfort food setting. Some of the food might seem new, but the facade of the diner plays true after you finish your meal and walk out the door.
21-17 49th Ave.
Queens, NY 11101
(I invite you to follow me on Twitter so you can get more updates.)