A Chef at Play Where Quebec Meets Queens

M. Wells Diner's Quebec-meets-Queens culinary project—closely watched by Chowhounds (and the CHOW Tour crew)—entered a new phase this month with the long-awaited addition of dinner service. Pookipichu says the evening menu, offered only Tuesday through Thursday for now, is brief and whimsical and changes often (here's a recent sample).

Chef Hugue Dufour's vision of "Québéco-American" cooking, as he calls it, takes in a broad territory, including the diverse cuisines represented around his adopted borough. His nontraditional spin on Peking duck features tender, crisp-skinned meat served with pancakes, sliced hot chiles, and house-made hoisin sauce with an intriguing note of ripe dates, Pookipichu reports. Successive courses in this $150 feast for four might include fried rice in which crunchy seaweed and white anchovies strike a textural contrast with soft, moist duck and rice, and show-stopping fried duck tongues, delicately crisp with an almost floral citrus undertone. Closer to the chef's Montreal roots are a fine filet mignon tartare and veal brains, creamy inside and seared crisp outside, with a wonderful grenobloise sauce with lemon and capers, kathryn reports. Among the desserts, early favorites include light, fluffy coconut cream pie and a killer caramel brownie, brought out piping hot.

Dufour thinks big, as anyone who's gone nose to nose with his heavyweight breakfast sandwich can attest. His excellent burger, first served at lunch, has been supersized for the dinner crowd. It's now a whopping pound and a half of ground beef and lamb, cooked to a juicy medium rare, served on a sesame bun, and seasoned with sweet New Jersey ketchup. "Really good," says kathryn, who tag-teamed it with her pals. "We all smelled like meat and butter on the way home."

M. Wells Diner [Long Island City]
21-17 49th Avenue (at 21st Street), Long Island City, Queens
718-425-6917

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