M. WELLS: Quebec-American Diner in LIC (closed)

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Dear Food Diary:
W, S and I went to Paris for the first time 2 years ago. Since then, we’ve been doing our “Paris Reunion” dinners every once in a while. Obviously, going along with the theme, it’s always french. This time around, I suggested a minor adjustment, M. Wells isn’t exactly “french” per se, but I read rave reviews. So off we went on a cold Wednesday night. Exit the 7 train, the only bright storefront, that well… looks like a diner!

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Diner with a French twist. Creative fusion food, done their way and a wine menu to go along with. Cute set up, fun people, chill and laid back atmosphere. The kind of place everyone would know your name. And the kitchen turns out what they believe works, breaking all rules, in a delicious way.
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Booth, tables and seats by the counter. It got crowded after 7pm, so I recommend making  reservations.
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Owned by husband and wife duo Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis. Hughe use to be part of Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon!!! Lucky for us, he’s now cooking for our tummies. Sarah is super warm and friendly. Came around the tables to say hello, mingle and of course talk about the food (which was spectacular by the way). 

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This was the main reason for our visit. Two of my favorite treats featured together. Escargot & Bone Marrow! Are you kidding me? Genius!
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Digging into the parsley, garlicky crust on top and you’ll find whole escargots soaked in a shallot and red wine puree, snuggling with rich bone marrow. Scoop it on a piece of warm toast, this is indulgence. How do you say “yummy” in French anyways!? At $9, I want another one, encore! encore!… but had to save some room.

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Caesar Salad might sound boring anywhere else, but not here. The dressing has smoked herring, a milder flavor than the usual anchovies, with a pleasant smokiness that lingers for a couple bites. The best part? That grated parmesan cheese!!! I love when chefs do subtle little changes to something so familiar and it just blows you away. We couldn’t figure out what topped our salad, a pile of fluffy white strings. Once it hit our tongue, it melted like snow, yet it was salty, creamy and super cheesy. This immediately took me back to Momofuku ko’s shaved foie gras dish. Not in taste of course, but the idea of something shaved so finely, it just disappears in the most pleasant way possible, while your tongue and brain are still communicating, trying to figure out what wonder just occurred.

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Speaking of foie gras, this was one of those flavor combos I wasn’t expecting to work. I read it and just couldn’t imagine it all in one bite, so we had to order it. Tripe and Glass Noodles with peanut butter sauce and foie gras. What? 
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Interestingly enough, it tasted somewhat familiar, in an odd way. A cross between something thai and french. The tripe was tender and like a sponge it soaked up all the flavors. Nice balance between the peanut butter and foie, both present but respectful of each other. It’s nutty and creamy, with appearances by mushrooms, strips of carrots, peppers and a shrimp here and there. Sort of surf and turf-esque done with an attitude, wondering in a foreign country.

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BibiM Wells (their play on a korean bibimbap) wasn’t our first choice. The description of cold rice didn’t fancy me that night, but they’d just ran out of Split Pea Soup (with lardons!), so we “settled”. Glad we did. 
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As the waitress described cold rice with raw bay scallops, oyster with shrimp, foie gras, poached egg, avocado, apple, cucumber, scallions and hot sauce, I went into this confused mode. Huh? Have you gone mad? This was wild! Textbook example of not judging a dish by the ingredients. East meets west at it’s best. There was crunch, creaminess, subtle sweetness from the raw scallops and hints of freshness here and there. The rich, creamy, melting ingredients were harmoniously contrasted by bright ones. A hint of brininess. I tried hard to not like it, I mean this was so wrong in so many levels, yet… so right. Like that boy with tattoos your parents disapproved, but you knew he was a sweetheart deep down and didn’t care. Suddenly I didn’t mind cold rice, in fact I really really enjoyed it (just don’t tell my mama).

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While average desserts were $5-6, the Paris-brest (yes, of course we made jokes like high school kids) had a whopping $16! But we couldn’t resist the sounds of buttery, flaky pastry topped with roasted nuts and filled with praline cream.
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If you have a sweet tooth like this Chubby, you’d would find this “brest” quite sexy. It has everything a good dessert should have, butter of course, something creamy, something crunchy, puffy, flaky and no sugar overload. Check, check, check. This was light and satisfying in every way. Great to be shared, even better not shared at all. 

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I can’t wait for my next culinary rendevous at M.Wells. Perhaps repEATing some of the dishes we had but maybe giving whelks, blood sausage and veal brains a try or that 2 pound monster burger you see in the picture, pilled high with giant onion rings. Might even change it up a little and try brunch or lunch. Either way, je reviens das un moment
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Oh oui! And let’s not forget the city view.

P.S. Chubby’s RATING: 
21-17 49th Avenue (Long Island City)