Tuesday, December 21, 2010

M. Wells Diner: A Real Gem in Queens

As the end of the year nears, it's time that I blog about one of the best things I ate this year. It was inarguably the best dish I had in New York this year, although I had great meals are Lincoln, Marea, Di Fara, and Osteria Morini. It's the mussel hash from M. Wells diner in Queens. A nicely browned stack of hashbrowns is topped with tender braised brisket, fresh, perfectly cooked mussels, and a runny poached egg drizzled with an unusual and exceptional scallion dressing.

Mussel Hash at M Wells

I had the same reaction as my friend whom I asked to accompany me to M. Wells. Going all the way to Queens for a diner?
As both LAist's Sam Kim and Destination Eats insisted that it is well worth it, I decided to make the trek - which turned out to be short and easy. Two stops in to Queens, and the diner is a mere 10 steps from the station. The so-called "elevated diner food" at Magasin Wells is brought to you by husband and wife Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis, who hailed from Montreal's acclaimed Au Pied de Cochon.

We waited a few minutes for a table in the narrow and packed diner and finally joined another group at their table.

Our server was a lively guy with plenty of recommendations and pride on their food. We had a hard time choosing between the seasonal items that are "going off the menu next week", the "there's only 2 orders left" hot-ticket items, and the mainstay favorites I've read so much about.

The foie-gras stuffed whole quail sounded absolutely divine but I wasn't sure I could handle it for breakfast. Taking his words that the mussel hash was "amazing" I ordered that. He was right, and what a way to start our meal. The potential at M. Wells came full force in this dish, a combination that I had never previously expected nor thought could be so, so good. Was it the crisped potatoes and tender mussels soaked in the rich yolk? The touch of scallion dressing brought together and added flavors that were simply unforgettable.

We were eager to see what would follow. The egg-sausage sandwich with cheddar, tomato, pickled jalapeƱo, English muffin ($8) seems to be one of people's favorite.
Egg Sausage Sandwich at M Wells
While everything from the juicy sausage to the fluffy eggs ensured that this would be a great breakfast sandwich, the pickled jalapeno is the key that made this into something special, something you could crave for.

My friend ordered another special menu item: a French Canadian meat pie with cranberry sauce - a seasonal dish for the holiday season.
Meat Pie
Chunks of tender meat encased in a warm and flaky crust. Again, it's the sauce that distinguishes the food here from very good to exceptional.

This meal started with a mind blowing bite. We were glad to find the rest of the meal held up to this standard (though nothing surpassed it) and M. Wells is now on my list of favorite New York eats. I can't wait to see what else they can rock my palate with because since that mussel hash, all we could think of was "Damn. That was good."

M. Wells Diner
21-17 49th Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 425-6917
M Wells on Urbanspoon



Mussel hash?! Heck yes! I'll be back in NYC in May, perhaps a train ride to Queens will be in order. Thanks for the tip!


Wow, didn't know it was one of the best things you ate all year. Glad you enjoyed it. It's amazing how much the menu changes. I've been there twice and had completely different things, and each time left me so full and satisfied.

Kung Food Panda

Damn, this looks great. I can't wait for my meal here!

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