It is not your typical steakhouse. M. Wells is anything and everything besides just a steakhouse.
In a Napoleonic tradition of aristocracy, corks—still attached to the severed necks of champagne bottles—clunk to the floor with the swing of a sabre. A couple at the Chef’s Counter sipped glasses of Nero Né, while trout swam beneath the glass countertop. Beside the trout tank sat four panoramas—two yet-to-be decorated. One of the designs—perhaps representing Chef Hugue Dufour and his wife, Sarah Obraitis—is of a couple relaxing by their cabin in the mountains, surrounded by grapes and mushrooms and decorations of nuts and berries, as if to celebrate the fruits of their labor.
The entire space is like a breathtaking tribute to the dichotomy between work and play. From the outside, the space appears to be merely an old rundown garage, while in actuality it is an epicurean sanctuary on the inside.
The menu is equally brilliant and baffling. Appetizers can easily pass for full meals, and there is so much more than simply steak—though it is very much a presence, with or without the bone, intended to serve just one or an entire party.
On my first visit, a bag secured by a drawstring was the first thing presented at the table, and we stared at it, almost waiting for something to crawl out. Nothing did—of course—and so we passed out the warm pretzel rolls, which are served with a tiny pitcher of mustard, as well as a warm pat of butter.
From the raw bar, we ordered the “Dog Bowl,” which essentially could have served as our meal. The lobster tails were exquisitely smoky and sweet after being grilled, then slathered in an herbed aioli. Pickled smelt lay across potato waffles with crème fraiche, smothered in salty golden orbs of trout roe. Hackleback caviar was pressed into sheets and served on brioche, like tea sandwiches. A decadent lobster roll arrived next, dripping with tarragon aioli. Escargot was lined up and roasted alongside bone marrow.
Everything was luxurious.
Potato gnocchi were stuffed with foie gras medallions, and poutine was served with straws of crispy golden French fries loaded with melted cheese curds, all drizzled in brown gravy. The Grassfed Cowboy was as exquisite as any steak I have ever enjoyed, the juices burst in my mouth as I would bite. And I have never, ever had potatoes like these before—almost two parts butter and cheddar to a single portion of spud—stringing from the spoon playfully as I drew my fork.
The meal was outstanding in every possible way. And there are so many things that still I want to try. The beef butter sounds divine. The Caesar salad looks remarkable, covered in a snowfall of pecorino shavings. At just $15, the bone-in burger looked delicious. And the Coquilles St. Féréol is supposed to be like a seafood shepherd’s pie, with scallops buried beneath an afghan of mashed potatoes, which have been carefully piped onto the plate.
We paid the bill without even considering dessert. Our waitress, who had been incredible, smiled as she handed me the leftovers in a brown bag. “I snuck in a piece of cheesecake,” she said as she winked, which I had been eyeing on the dessert cart, swimming in a vanilla bean sauce.
43-15 Crescent St., Long Island City
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