Quality Quebecois in Queens


M. Wells Diner | 21-17 49th Ave., Queens | 718.425.6917 | www.mwellsdiner.com | |

HALLELUJAH! EIGHTEEN MONTHS OF doing PHUDE—309 posts!—and I finally made it out to Queens. My trip was predicated by the most unfortunate reasons; after hearing and reading rave reviews for the relative new Quebeois cuisine being served at Long Island City’s M. Wells, I found it imperative to try it, but more so after the sudden news that they would be shutting their doors at the end of August.

I set out to have my first meal of the day ay M. Wells, coming up from the Hunter’s Point 7 train station that settles just steps away from the visually nostalgia-inducing diner.


M. Wells Diner

M. Wells Diner

M. Wells Diner

M. Wells Diner


I settled at the counter, across from which comprises a majority of the kitchen. Having not eaten since the night before in preparation, my appetite was doubly prodded by watching the cooking and preparations of some of the other diner’s plates, the frying and sugar- and cinnamon-dusting of some cake doughnuts, and an angelically pretty chef Brenna stirring and pouring a maple cream going into some homemade pie shells. A few minutes of all that and I could no longer wait to dive into the menu, wetting my eager palate with a Boylan’s Root Beer over ice.


M. Wells Diner | Cake Doughnuts

M. Wells Diner | Brenna with Pie Shells

M. Wells Diner | Maple Pie

M. Wells Diner | Menu

Boylan's Root Beer


Always a fan of a restaurant’s more “outré” food items, I decided to start with escargot served with bone marrow.


Escargot with Bone Marrow


Escargot with Bone Marrow

Escargot with Bone Marrow


If you are not a fan of either escargot or bone marrow, you won’t enjoy this. Yet I say that as a compliment, since this preparation lets the properties of both ingredients shine and dance well together. The richness of the beefy, slightly gelatinous yet spreadable marrow complimented the more firm bites of the nuanced brininess and firmer texture of the snails. The toast points and breadcrumbs helped each bite start and finish with proper crunch.

Midway through my first course’s excitement, I took a quick look around the space to see what other customers were dining on, since I was now convinced that I was going to order at least one more dish. Imagine my surprise spotting actor (and theatrical clown and Tony-winner Robin Williams co-star in Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” video) Bill Irwin hanging out at the front door.


Bill Irwin

Alas, he had only popped in to ask for directions, but seemed as genuinely impressed with the food he spotted being devoured on tables as he was dismayed to hear of the space’s eventual closing.

The full regular menu does highlight dishes from its Quebec roots; classic burgers are known to be listed next to coquille St. Jacque; egg & sausage breakfast sandwich could be served next to a vegemite tartine. I became tempted by a seafood cobbler, featuring scallops and razor clams in a bechamel with homemade biscuits and topped with melted Gruyere, Quebecians being very proud of the fish and fish prep acumen.


Seafood Cobbler with Scallops and Razor Clams

Seafood Cobbler with Scallops and Razor Clams

Seafood Cobbler with Scallops and Razor Clams


An excellent and hearty dish, sporting more familiar flavors throughout rich, hot layers of tastes and textures. Especially export was how the razor clams were diced thin, while the large scallops were left to size, cooking through the initially tougher razor clams while not over cooking the plump, delectable scallops. The biscuits were fluffy but just dry enough to absorb all the aromas of the dish while supporting the creamy bechamel sauce as well as the gooey, mellow, and only slightly sharp gruyere.

I would have called it a day, but I was fortunate enough to have join me—in the middle of seafood cobbler—a lovely young lady, local to the neighborhood, who had taken the day off from work, decided to treat herself to a late breakfast/early lunch, and happen to sit right next me. Her name was Jennifer (still is), a somewhat regular of M. Wells, who was an absolute delight to talk to and share food knowledge with. She was already a fan of my seafood chowder, as well as the restaurant’s regular tortilla española; she ordred the special tortilla of the day, made with potatoes and duck hearts.


Jennifer

Tortilla España with Duck Hearts

Tortilla España with Duck Hearts


She let me try some, and it was quite good. Again, if you’re a fan of duck—already gamey—and hearts (minerally, firm-textured) than you’d appreciate, as I did, how those bold, strong properties were pleasantly “pillowed” by an airy, herbally aromatic cake of potato. (Neither Jennifer nor I could figure out why, though, such a sizable a potato dish was accompanied by three large hunks of bread.)

Caught up in the sharing spirit, Jennifer and I also sampled (we had nary the tummy space left, by this point in each of our meals, for full on eating) a beautifully and simply dressed house salad, as well as—not the maple pie—but a slice of their heavenly banana cream pie, a perfect way to wrap up such a sweet treat of a visit.


House Salad

Banana Cream Pie


Or should I say “bittersweet”, since the experience will shortly be no longer be available to me or anyone else. Which is a true shame since the quest to enjoy the quirky charms of Quebecois cuisine reminded me how quick a trip it is to Queens. (You can quote me on that!)

And if you get a chance, check out M. Wells yourself, before they’re gone. Oh, and be sure to say hi to one of our chefs, Brendan, and my waiter, David, for me, who were nothing short of informative, attentive, and friendly.

Quite so, actually….


Brendan

David

M. Wells Diner




Bun Apple Tea!

.kac.


M Wells on Urbanspoon


M. Wells Diner | 21-17 49th Ave., Queens | 718.425.6917 | www.mwellsdiner.com | |



iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store