Mas (la grillade), NYC

September 18, 2012

Chef Galen Zamarra opened Mas (farmhouse) in 2004 and it has been full ever since. Last year he opened Mas (la grillade) to offer another aspect of rustic Franch cuisine. Its website says: “Mas (la grillade)’s entire cooking line consists of a bank of 4,000 pound wood-fired grills, spits, and pits. Solid fuel sourced from local farms and vineyards will include apple, quince, oak, grapevines, and old wine barrels.”  That sounded intriguing so Linda and I went for dinner on August 29, 2012.

We were seated in a corner banquette in the back of the lower level of the fairly small restaurant.

This was the view from our seat shortly after our arrival before the restaurant filled up.

We ordered glasses of the house Champagne.

There are two choices in each of three courses, plus dessert, in the prix fixe menu, but one can substitute from the limited à la carte selections. (The table next to ours had a good looking tasting menu with more courses and generous portions.)

We ordered a bottle of 2008 Terre Blanche, Domaine Monier, Saint Joseph red wine from the all French wine list.

The amuse-gueule was house-smoked salmon on grilled corn salad.

A nice start.

Linda’s first course was
Charred Corn Soup with Grilled Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Espelette Peppers and Chive Oil

This was excellent. The sweetness of the caramelized corn blended nicely with the smokiness of the mushrooms.

My starter was
Grilled Maine Lobster and Anise Hyssop In a Clear, Smoked Gazpacho with Cucumber, Radish and Basil Sorbet

The generous serving of lobster chunks was enhanced by the various fresh summer flavors.

Linda’s fish course was
Grilled Local Swordfish with Charred Carrots, Turnips, Baby Leeks and Parsley- Walnut Gremolata

She wrote: “The small swordfish cut was moist and well prepared. Excellent.  The turnips were were the best of the veggies. None were “charred;” they just had a few grill marks on them.”

My fish course was
Grilled Halibut Wrapped in Zucchini with Smoked Tomato Compote, Alphonso Olives and Bibb Lettuce

The concentrated smoked tomato compote dominated this dish, but the grilled piece of bibb lettuce was perhaps the most interesting component.

Linda’s meat course was
Smoke- Roasted Duck Breast with Swiss Chard, Bacon and Potatoes “a la Chapa”

The thick slices of smoked duck breast were almost like ham. The smoked potatoes and chard were very good.

Mine was
Pork Crepinette with Grilled Red Pepper Purée, Summer Squash and Spinach

The grilling created a flavorful pork exterior for the crépinette, but the ground pork inside was too salty and vinegary.

Linda’s dessert was
Blackberry Frangipane Tart with Nectarine Sorbet, Blackberry Compote and Milk Chocolate Caramel

Very good.

My dessert was
Grilled Peaches in Verbena Syrup with Crème Fraîche Sorbet, Cornmeal Crumble and Raspberries

Grilling the peach could have been a very good idea, but this one was not ripe enough. The other components were very good.

The mignardises were peanut butter cookies and olive oil cakes with plum marmalade.

Nice.

We enjoyed our meal for its good, seasonal ingredients and its consistent, but imaginative, use of wood-fired cooking.  The service was friendly and efficient; the pace was right and the noise level low.

“What we’re doing at Mas (la grillade) is the antithesis of molecular gastronomy,” says Zamarra. “Cooking over live wood coals has nothing to do with transforming food into theater, but rather celebrates the natural properties of foods and flavor. This cooking technique delivers simple, yet sophisticated, cuisine.”

We thought that he succeeded in executing this concept well. Congratulations.

http://www.maslagrillade.com/home/

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