A hearty and COMFY afternoon lunch at New York City’s M. Wells Diner
It could be one of the many roadside diners in slow, inevitable decay along the less traveled, small town roadways of upstate New York. M. Wells Diner just happens to be in Hunter’s Point, an industrial and rather bleak section of Long Island City. A world apart from the shiny new high-rises of Long Island City’s waterfront and Manhattan.
M. Wells. was an equally forgotten and rundown place until its new owner, Chef Hugue Dufour saw the potential in its decayed and way-off-the-beaten-path state. Since New Yorkers love nothing more than trekking off to outer boroughs in search of the latest food find, M. Wells has been a hit from the get go. Of course it doesn’t help having the contacts to generate instant press hype. But, the true allure of M. Well’s is its hearty and delicious mix of traditional Canadian “diner” food with the nouveau. Curious foodies and locals have been deluging M. Wells with a steady flow of hungry eyes and full booths since it opened and signs are that business couldn’t be better.
Trying to have a casual breakfast or lunch at M. Wells on a weekend would be a practice in pure masochism. But being “underemployed” has its benefits and a late lunch on a Wednesday found the place at a tolerable pace of business (unlike the previous attempt on a Saturday with lines out the door).
This writer is by no means a food critique but found the Cubano sandwich to be a succulent, mouth watering twist on the traditional pressed Cuban sandwich. With barely a pickle in sight and lightly pressed but not flat, it was loaded with chunky and sweet pork, cheese and a mayo-like sauce. Well worth the $7. Hand cut fries were crispy and a deep golden brown. My girlfriend’s lobster roll was equally rich with summer like zest and fresh chunks of lobster.
The food at M.Wells is one thing, the setting another. For a moment one might think they’re anywhere but New York City. With winter in full force outside, it exudes a cozy funkiness with its traditional chrome metal interior matched with kitschsy bric-a-brac. The soundtrack was an eclectic mix of acoustic rock and dub sounds. Service is provided by a flannel shirted, bearded French-Canadian. It’s about this point where the strange déjà vu of Twin Peaks kicks in. Dessert was two very classic doughnuts straight out of grandma’s deep fryer and coated with sugar. The comfort level couldn’t have been higher. As we dined a photographer next to us was enthralled with the food he was shooting, noting to the waitress how difficult it was not to eat the subject. The poor guy.