From the first look of the metal hot dog diner from the outside, it was love at first sight with M Wells.
The metal tin emerges a bit out of nowhere, in an almost deserted part of town in Long Island City, right off the convenient Vernon 7 stop. The rectangular space has a handful of booths and several stools along the long counter, but the place fills up quick, and there is nowhere to wait but outside.
Our wait was about 25 minutes at 12:30p on Sunday. Not bad! We were seated along the counter, which had a great view of the most appetizing bread basket. If I had been sitting with Diana, she might not have been able to control herself. However, I was sitting with Thanan who doesn't partake in such bread-stealing shenanigans (he's super mature).
Although the look and feel of M. Wells is all diner, the menu is hardly but. Gourmet items like Peking duck (that must be pre-ordered in advance), salmon tartare and foie gras are among the regular offerings for brunch and dinner. We watched one kitchen member shuck dozens of freshly steamed mussels that I longingly wanted to eat.
Thanan and I shared one of M. Wells' most popular appetizers: bone marrow and escargot. The marrow was dressed with thinly sliced shallots, red wine and plento herbs. Chunks of escargot were nestled atop the marrow.
We plunged our knives into the fatty marrow, pulled out a thick chunk to smear on the crostini. The pairing of fat and escargot was surprisingly delicious; the escargot had perfect chew. After all the marrow and escargot were done for, I took whatever crumbs were left of my crostini to soak up the herbaceous oil - so flavorful! It's a small appetizer to share, but one that probably should as it's seriously rich.
For his entree, Thanan opted for the soup of the day which was a corn and bacon soup. For an additional ten dollars, you could also have foie gras added, which Thanan was all about, and which would explain that mysterious fatty center oozing from the soup bowl below.
The soup was very light, with bits of fresh corn and thick, savory chunks of bacon. The whopping portion of foie gras in the soup was impressive, and Thanan took great care to chew the rich fat so that it coated his lips with a nice sheen of fat gloss.
I ordered the bacon and potato hash. A beautifully poached egg was balanced atop strands of griddled beans, with a thick slab of a golden potato cake anchoring the whole dish.
The bacon at M. Wells is nothing short of decadent - super thick cubes of pure pork fat that melt in your mouth. Divine. The whole dish together was magic. So rich, so gratuitously fatty (bacon-grease to the max) but so amazingly delicious.
Impressed with everything thus far, Thanan and I went for the gold and ordered pies for dessert. Thanan ordered the maple pie, which essentially has the same consistency as Momofuku's crack pie, but tastes so much better. And I am not saying this because I love hating on David Chang (because I totally do in every way), but because it just is - the pie is served warm, which always amps up anything's tasty factor, and the pie itself is lighter, with the maple flavoring adding a nice bit of oomph.
I ordered the banana cream pie; the fat slice was delivered with glorious stripes of airy whipped cream.
The banana pudding was not too sweet and perfectly smooth. The crust was terrific - flaky, buttery, awesome.
The casual atmosphere coupled with such unique and well-executed menu options, where every bite is as good as the last, ranks M. Wells up there among my new favorite restaurants. Located just one subway stop out of Manhattan on the 7 train, Manhattanites should break their borough-centric habits and make an exception to try this spot out. And if they don't, less wait for me! :)
I cannot wait to come back and try their sausage and egg sandwich where the patty is as thick as a hamburger. Of course, eating here does have its consequences - I was in a serious food coma for nearly two hours afterwards, but that's what lazy Sundays are all about, right?