Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

M. WELLS STEAKHOUSE, 43-15 Crescent Street (at 43rd Avenue), Long Island City, QueensI’ve never been a fan of steakhouses. They’re just so uninteresting. I like a tender filet mignon or fatty ribeye as much as the next macho carnivorous guy. But I can’t get past paying top dollar for nothing more than meat and potatoes. Maybe a little salt, pepper, and butter too.

M. Wells is probably the steakhouse of my dream. Avant garde chef Hugue Dufuor has expanded his M. Wells empire to include this destination chophouse in the middle of post-industrial Long Island City. The room is very hip, classy, and modern. It made me love the place before I tasted any food.

Aside from a gimmicky, but tasty bone-in burger (yes, they add a long beef bone to the patty before cooking) we actually steered away from the meat menu. The steaks hover in the usual steakhouse prices and apart from a pancake stack of pork chops, they all sounded rather pedestrian.

So we stuck mostly with the seafood heavy appetizers and rich, creamy vegetable sides. These sounded much more exciting and it’s here that I discovered the solomon gundy. While it sounds like it’s named for a foreign politican from the 1970’s, it’s actually a play on a Jamaican dish.

Solomon Gundy at M. WELLS STEAKHOUSE

In my mind, it replaces the steakhouse staple of blinis and caviar. Here, two buttery crisp potato waffles make up the base for a shower of appetizing ingredients. Pickled smelts, vinegary onions, lots of trout caviar, and a generous dollop of créme fraîche melt into the proceedings. The light and smoky flavors were braced by fishy salinity and tangy acidity. It was a delicious starter preparing you for the meat sweats that are still to come.

That aforementioned burger quenched our red meat thirst and the other dishes we ordered, including a game-changing wedge salad with dehydrated ketchup chips and a side of buttery cheese-laden endive au gratin, ended up filling us up and created a surprisingly inventive meal. And that’s not something I usually experience at a steakhouse.

M. WELLS STEAKHOUSE
43-15 Crescent Street (at 43rd Avenue),
Long Island City, Queens
(718) 786-9060
magasinwells.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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