21-17 49th Avenue
Long Island City, Queens
Official Site (there’s nothing there)
The metal facade is irreversibly run-down and some of the windows are damaged from Queens living. The thick windows shutter the dining room from the factory-inspired commotion outside – in stark contrast to the clarity that appears in the food between the booths. To me, this is as idyllic as it gets. And I can’t decide if it’s grandmotherly or kid sister-like. Either way, there’s a tinge of femininity, almost rabbit-like. Or maybe that’s just their French-Canadian upbringing. It’s days later and I want to come back.
It feels like the restaurants I’ve heard about in places like Portland Oregon or Maine: Nondescript, rundown diners taken over by well-trained chefs and repurposed for the future of eating. It’s here and it’s different than publicist-inspired cuisine in Gramercy. It’s a pleasure being in there, non-rushed, with 2 large architect-sized wood tables or the 6 deep red, cozy booths. I could occupy hours of my lunchtime at MW without free wifi and I would be consumed. And the prices are even cheaper than most of Astoria, where bullshit is creeping up faster than I’d like.
The early June menu is one sheet of paper. About 10 breakfast or lunch items like bacon or bacalao hash, baguette with accompaniments, and eggs over other things. Everything listed is special and subdued. On the counter are large glass jars filled with nuts, banana bread, sugar doughnuts and lemonade. In the freezer is frozen Custard from Timmy O’s.
I have suspicions, but I don’t want to ruin the experience by bringing words to my consciousness like locally sourced and organic. I can’t take feel-good eating anymore. I am free from morality ulcers as long as they keep their environmental merit in small print or conversationally, if asked.
In LIC, where shells of the past make for artistic opportunity, here they take advantage without awkwardly, brashly standing out. They’ve been getting a dangerous amount of press lately NYT Grubstreet Edible Queens VV Fork in the Road – easily the darling of summer 2010 Queens. My question: Would M. Wells be something special if it were anywhere else but Queens’ Long Island City? My answer is Maybe. All this press and dandyisms make me sick, but I walked in with disregard and was happy to be there. I’m only at my first glance, but it seems like real food.
If you haven’t yet, put it on your radar. It already is great, but there is potential for much more. I only hope that the locals appreciate it so the menu can spread it’s wings as far as the owners like, without pandering to expectations. Early reports have shown long wish-list of menu items, but we’ll see what happens. In this age of Thor Equities, I’ve quit anticipating. I’m just tasting.