M. Wells Steakhouse is open. The restaurant is fenced by minimalist wood slats that open to a courtyard. Inside, the decor is a mix of industrial flooring, metals and found-art chic. M. Wells is the most aesthetically cool restaurant in Queens and one of the most in NYC. The trough for live fish and open kitchen are not only visually arresting but also utile in design.
Bread buns are served deliciously hot with a fresh circle of butter. The bread is gorgeously browned, with a fluffy, yeasty interior and a salty pretzel flavor.
I started with M. Wells Caesar. The preparation of the salad is done at an open station. The salad is crisp romaine buried under a heaping snow of parmesan shavings. The lettuce is very lightly dressed in herring sauce with croutons. The herring is subtle and the dish as a whole is rather restrained but well executed.
The bone in hamburger is a hamburger patty with a long bone protruding from its center. The patty is an elegantly blended mix of top rounds (grass and corn fed respectively) and aged brisket. The housemade sesame bun is expertly baked with an airy moistness and thin crust. The burger was perfectly cooked, crusty sear, medium rare, almost bloody and bathed in remoulade. A very well composed, well presented burger.
I ordered a side of poutine. The fries are crispy and the cheese curds had a consistency of a fresh paneer with the creamy flavor of mozzarella. The gravy was a bit salty for me. I wish the gravy had a bit more meatiness or smokiness.
The meal concludes with a jaw dropping dessert cart. I ordered red velvet cake. The red velvet cake has a banana bread/carrot cake-like consistency and crumb. Not the typical tighter and airy crumb that you might find at Baked or Lady M. The balance of sweetness is quite judicious and pleasing, thankfully not cloyingly sweet as can be with some restaurants. The frosting has cream cheese mellowed by creme fraiche, which is appreciated as I don't care for the flavor of cream cheese. I prefer a tighter and smaller crumb, but lovers of fruit/vegetable cake will enjoy the texture.
The service is solicitous, informed and warm, although a touch leisurely. The owner and hostess Sarah Obraitis is charm and beauty. Hugue Dufour was dapper and media ready even as he was cooking, as there were photographers and camera crew documenting the opening.
My initial impression is, M. Wells Steakhouse is easily one of the best restaurants, if not the best in Queens. They have an interesting selection of oysters to explore. The lobster roll looked really delicious, given their expert way with breads, it looks like a must order for a next visit.