Since moving from NYC two years ago, we were itching to return and enjoy some of the finer restaurants we missed. But after a two year hiatus, we found ourselves not under the bright city lights but in rather drab Long Island stretch of factories and parking lots to brunch at M. Wells, a diner off the beaten track our friends highly touted.
The exterior is iconic classic American diner. Restored and glimmering on the outside, however, what’s cooking inside is a cut above your classic American diner fare. Led by two pandas (Kung Food and Pinoy) and a gilded palate, we braved near freezing temperatures and gusty winds to enjoy the eclectic menu ranging from pickled pork tongue to bone marrow escargot.
The ambitious menu is explained by the husband and wife team of Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis, the former from Montreal and chef at Au Pied de Cochon where foie gras, pigs head, and blood sausages are the norm and the later, a native from Queens. Perhaps it should be more apt to call this a “Quebecois American” diner. We immediately knew exactly what to order when we saw pickled pork tongue, a Quebec brasserie classic. Perfectly balance between sour and briny, the succulent and crispy seared tongue with home made saltines and mustard was a steal at $7. Being the offal lovers, this dish did not disappoint.
Our dining companions order the mushroom and foie gras soup (can be ordered without foie). Even without the foie, the soup alone was earthy and rustic and just the comfort we need for the blistery winds we endured during the long wait. Add the foie and it was just another level of decadence altogether.
Bone marrow is also something we automatically order whenever it’s on a menu. Studded with escargot, this diner sure knows how to win our hearts.
Egg souffle with mushroom broth and bonito was an unexpected but well recieved dish as it reminded us of a fancier Korean steamed eggs (gaeran jim), again, great for the cold weather.
M. Wells also serves a solid egg and sausage sandwich, bacon and hash, as well as burgers and hot dogs, and salads. But don’t come here for that, the menu changes daily and it’s the offal and off the menu specials that really stand out. With most items under $10, M. Wells was worthy excursion on our NYC eating vacation.
M. Wells 21-17 49th Avenue (21st Street), Long Island City, Queens; (718) 425-6917