Man, this one hurts a little. There’s one thing you should know before you read this review – we LOVE Mas (farmhouse). It’s one of the best restaurants anywhere, and every dining experience we’ve had there has been nothing short of incredible. So you can imagine that we’re disappointed to report that we don’t love their new venture, Mas (la grillade).
The new restaurant from Mas is dedicated to the purpose of cooking everything over hot wood embers, or, in what we assume to be some ancient language, “la grillade”. Now, as per Erik B. and Rakim, we certainly aren’t here to sweat the technique. We love grilled stuff. But we’re having a lot of trouble with the execution of this concept. Here’s why. When you go to have dinner at a restaurant that’s essentially called “restaurant, a grill”, don’t you want to see the grill? Or at least have some kind of indication that it’s there? Walking into the Mas (la grillade) space is a bit like walking into have dinner at a really nice, clean Radisson. Not only is there no grill to be found, but there’s no vibe. I want to see some flame, or at least some things that make me think of flames. But instead, all you see here are bright lights and white tablecloths. I know New York City is a tough place to find restaurant space, especially one where you’re operating a huge open fire, but it makes us wonder why Mas decided to work its concept into this particular address.
As for the food that comes off la phantom grillade, we were also unimpressed. The menu at Mas is big, and full of things that sound delicious, but much of what we had fell flat. We sampled meats, fish and even some wood fired oysters, and somehow the salad ended up being the most memorable thing we ate, courtesy of some awesome lamb bacon. In general, we felt like this was food we could find in plenty of restaurants around town that employ fire to cook things. That’s a far cry from the world-class restaurant this place spawned from.
Grilled Tartine of Smoked Trout
Two small pieces of bread topped with smoked trout and some fixins. The smoke on the fish was nice, but it was a bit under seasoned. For seven bucks, we say skip the tartines as a rule.
Wood-Fired Oysters with Lemon Thyme Shallot Butter
These were some tasty oysters, and they’re a nice way to kick off a meal. The lemon thyme butter was a nice way to add some flavor while still keeping it simple.
Grilled Romaine Salad with House-Cured Lamb Bacon
I don’t know if you’ve had lamb bacon yet, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that you will soon. Somehow I just feel like this stuff is gonna be all over restaurant menus next year. Rightfully so, it’s f*cking delicious, and made me write nice things about a plate of grilled lettuce.
Grilled Wild Striped Bass with Parsley-Walnut Gremolata
This was a really nice piece of fish, cooked perfectly and simply dressed with the parsley walnut topping. That said, we’ve had nice pieces of fish like this from a lot of places. Maybe our expectations are just too high from a place like named Mas.
Spit-Roasted Whole Hudson Valley Squab
This bird came off the grill and arrived at our table full on rare. As in, chewy and fresh like you just caught the thing with your mouth. I am sure that this is an appropriate way to serve squab in some places, and that most chefs even prefer to eat it this way. But there is no way more than 4% of actual people paying to eat at this or any restaurant want to eat poultry rare. We sent it back, had them put some heat on it, and enjoyed a well-cooked squab four minutes later. You should feel free to do the same. Or just order something else.
Baby Fennel and Pears
This was a delicious combination of things, and both the pears and the fennel were excellent grilled. Order away.
Rapini Grilled with Garlic and Chili Flakes
Another good vegetable side, which you will need. Entrées here are served a la carte, so you’re going to need to get some extras. Watch it though…things start to add up and that bill won’t be small.