When dinner service commenced at M. Wells, snow clung to the stunted bushes outside.
Now that we’ve heard the sad news that a rapacious landlord is kicking facsimile Montreal diner M. Wells out of its location on one of Long Island City’s most obscure blocks, it’s time to gaze back fondly at one year of wonderful dining.
I was in on the secret from the start, and after eating there six or seven times, I lost count. I couldn’t do an actual review, because I knew co-owner Sarah Obraitis from a food expedition a couple of years ago. So I did the next best thing — I took pictures and occasionally posted them on Fork in the Road.
Well, all good things must end, and it’s always sooner than we would have liked. Yes, I know a new location is said be imminent, but I’ll miss that hike up the trash-strewn subway steps, and furtive look over my shoulder as I dashed into the old streamlined diner.
Here, then, are my 20 favorite dishes, in reverse chronological order. Remember, the place was first open only for breakfast, then breakfast and lunch, and, finally, lunch and dinner, and it began with simple concepts and progressed to more complicated ones. I will never forget the food, or the excitement of eating it for the first time.
1. Banana cream pie with whipped cream
2. Caesar salad with smoked herring dressing
3. Pork chop with gnudi and mushroom soup
4. Escargot with marrow bones
A quiet afternoon moment inside the diner
5. One of the restaurant’s signatures, a very gloppy egg-sausage breakfast sandwich
6. Seafood cobbler
7. Tortilla Española
8. Biscuit and butter with quince jelly
Making the rustic rural Quebecois meat pies called tourtières
9. Mixed-meat tourtière
10. Lamb-beef hamburger (early version)
11. Maple pie
12. Fried headcheese sandwich with gribiche sauce
13. Hubbard squash soup
14. Pickled pork tongue with mustard and homemade soda crackers
15. Heirloom tomato salad
16. Blood sausage
17. Brownie with vanilla frozen custard
18. An early M. Wells signature, pork sliders on Chinese steamed bao (photo by Tracy Van Dyk)
19. Steak tartare
20. Bacalao, egg and potato hash
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