Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I will stop making fun of
Canadians Canadian Cuisine
I have not been to Canada in ages. Canada is not the most exotic locale and it is easy just to say that all they got is Celine Dion, hockey, socialized health care and that country that John Candy was able to invade. What is generally less know is that it has a thriving food scene from Vancouver to Montréal. I have already have it set that if I go to Canada, specifically, Montreal, even before booking a hotel and making travel arrangements, my first order of business is to book a table or even a seat at Au Pied de Cochon, but not just book one reservation, but a two day reservation just so I can eat through their extensive foie and pork menu and hopefully not result in a trip to a free emergency room trip. M. Wells is under the command of the chef de cuisine Hugue Dufour, a veteran of Au Pied de Cochon and in July 2010, opened up Magasin Wells Diner, M. Wells for short, in Long Island City with his wife a Queens native.
I am a little late to the M. Wells train but this week was their first dinner service since opening and I figured that I had to check it out their brunch service. Although they are located in Queens, it is thankfully only two stops into Queens and the diner is conveniently located within a few steps from the stop. Unfortunately, since opening, M. Wells has developed a following which means people lining up even before it opens to get some morning grub. I arrived about 15 minutes before they opened and already, there was a few folks waiting outside. I generally avoid places that involved ridiculous amount of people waiting outside (I am looking at you Clinton St. Bakery!) I despise it so I avoid it as much as possible but I of course make exceptions and being an earlier riser now, I understand its advantages.
Place is small and is unapologetically a dive. If you were not looking for the place, you would easily drive by it and miss it completely. The inside is nothing crazy to look at either, it looks like any typical side street diner. If it was not for the food that they were serving, I would not even waste my time coming out here. This is no ordinary diner, they do not have your patty melts or club sandwiches, this is what Hugue Dufour is calling, “Quebeco-American Cuisine”. The local diner is not within leagues of this place, unless your local diner is serving Mushroom Soup with Foie Gras (A must have the next time I am here) at 10 in the morning and if it is, let me know where it is.
There is no egg white omelet to be found here so to start off I went with one of the specials of the day, the house Pickled Pork Tongue seared on the flat top and served with Dijon mustard and soda crackers. The tongue was fork tender with a great crisp sear from the flat top. The hint of acidity from the pickling paired nicely with the spicy sinus clearing Dijon mustard. The mealy soda crackers had a nice touch to it and gave the dish a bit of a homey feel to it. I tried to be a socialized human being trying to eat this dish at first with a fork and knife but after clumsy efforts of cutting soda crackers with my knife and trying to create a perfect bite, I just said screw it and used my hands. Besides, ever tried to cut soda crackers with a butter knife? You feel ridiculous and want to call an adult over to help you. Overall, this was a great dish and was a perfect starter to the day. Nothing says good morning like a warm piece of offal.
For my main, I went with the Tortilla Espanola which is the closest thing that you will find to an omelet here. However, it is not going be something cute like a Western or Denver Omelet. This Tortilla Espanola filled with potato and onions or the upgraded version of blood sausage and shrimp. I of course, went with the blood sausage and shrimp. I can not say no to blood sausage especially, its like Lady Gaga if she wants attention, OF COURSE I WANT IT. This was a hearty dish. I can see the Quebec influence in this dish; it is a dish that keeps you going, if the rest of the day you are outside in the freezing cold and chopping down a tree. The Tortilla Espanola, filled with potatoes, onions, blood sausage and shrimp was served with hearty rye bread a bit of clarified butter artfully spilled on the side. The eggs were more or less a binder to kept the substantial filling together. The Blood sausage, made in house was meaty and smooth with a surprising hint of cinnamon in that worked well with the taste composition of the dish.
When I go to a diner, my go to dessert finisher is usually a classic rice pudding or bread pudding, with whip cream on top. However, since I am clearly not at my local or typical diner I went with the Graceland. When I asked my waitress if she could describe the Graceland to me, her eyes completely lit up and was disturbingly excited to tell me about and was about to jump across the diner to get me one. The Graceland is a breakfast banana bread cupcake with peanut butter frosting. This was a great finisher to a great meal. This cupcake did not carry the typical heavy buckshot dosage of sugar, it was the right amount of sweetness and the peanut butter frosting was more like a spread and worked perfectly with the cake. If I lived in the area, I could see myself just sitting at the counter drinking coffee and polishing off multiple Graceland for a whole morning. Of course if I did that, I would need to truly move to Canada in order to have access to the free healthcare I would surely need.
I went here on a Saturday morning, first seating at 10 am exactly when they open. My meal lasted about 45 minutes and the diner was already packed and a swarm of people were already outside the door. My advice, get here early or dine solo. Dining at the counter is nice because you are eating at a chefs table with the cooks and the prep work all happening in front of you. As of this 2nd week of February, M. Wells is not doing a weekday dinner service which I must check out. I left the place with my coat smelling of fries and content like any time you go to a diner. But the food served here is not your typical diner fare and is worth to check out sometime.
M. Wells Diner
21-17 49th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
M. Wells Diner
21-17 49th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101