M. Wells Dinette
22-25 Jackson Avenue between 46th Avenue and 46th Road
Long Island City, NY 11101
Back in 2011, three separate groups of friends told Dave and I about M. Wells in Long Island City and were raving about how way amazing it was. That’s certainly a positive sign. I had also read about the establishment in Time Out. Naturally, I put it on the list of places to check out. Alas, it was not meant to be. The day I planned to go, I was sick, and that was my last shot since I was leaving NYC. Later I heard that M. Wells closed down. R.I.P. I shed a tear since I thought I would never get to try M. Wells, the one that got away.
Eventually, M. Wells was reborn as M. Wells Dinette in MoMA’s PS1. I was very happy to hear this since I could finally realize my dream of eating at M. Wells. Because I’d never been to PS1 either, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone. I roped Amy C. into this museum-meal hybrid excursion. I met up with her and her son Nico for a nice lunch right when the museum opened.
Since PS1 is housed in an old school, the Dinette takes up one big classroom. All of the tables are long desks, and there are chalkboards, and the menus are in composition notebooks. Cute.
The menu was divided up into charcuterie, starters, mains, and desserts.
The waitress suggested the jambon Paris for Nico, basically ham and a baguette with mustard and cornichons on the side. I tried some ham and thought it was tasty. I’m not used to dining with toddlers so it was an interesting experience! I wouldn’t have thought this place would be kid-friendly, but I saw a baby and some other young children.
For starters, Amy and I shared the veal brains grenobloise ($13) and the chicken liver mousse ($11). And what is “grenobloise,” you ask? I had no idea but just wanted to try veal brains. Some internet searching (thanks, Wikipedia) tells me that
A dish prepared à la Grenobloise (in the Grenoble manner) has a garnish of small croutons along with brown butter, capers, parsley, and lemon.
That’s the plate on the upper right. I loved the seasoning on it. Unfortunately I cannot tell you more about it but it reminded me of the stuffing that I eat on Thanksgiving that features oysters and I believe has poultry seasoning and bay leaves. Interestingly enough, I likened the taste and texture of the veal to oysters. Amy and I both really ended up liking this; I think I had suggested getting it, but Amy concurred.
The dish in the lower center was the chicken liver mousse. You know, it actually looks pretty similar to the veal. The mousse was buttery. I told Amy it was like eating a stick of butter. So in a starter-off between the brains and the mousse, I’d give the win to the brains.
The main course of leg of lamb with mint ($29) then made its entrance. The key word here is green! The veggies, especially the peas, tasted very fresh. The lamb was soft and scrumptious. Mmm, fiber and protein.
Naturally, I wanted to cap off my experience at the Quebecois diner by having dessert. There were a couple of options; I can remember the pineapple upside down cake and the banana maple creme brulee which is what I ended up selecting. It might have been the weaker part of the meal. Don’t get me wrong, it was good but maybe I thought it would be more creamy and more maple-y but the banana was the strongest note, and I like bananas the least out of those ingredients. Oh well! It was still sweet and nice.
I was reading The New York Times review for M. Wells Dinette, and the critic mentioned how this place works so well with the nature of the museum it’s in and also the trendy neighborhood. I would have to agree. The only downside was that it’s a little pricey. Not a super veggie-friendly place either, in case any vegetarians were considering going. I loved telling friends later that I ate veal brains and seeing their reactions!
After all that heavy food, Amy, Nico, and I strolled around the hallways and peeked into the galleries. The art was very random and strange.