Mas (Farmhouse) opened over 5 years ago, finding a balance between the prevailing trend of casual dining, with New York’s timeless need for upscale, romantic evenings. Even without the celebrity chef buzz, most Friday and Saturday evenings are still fully booked, weeks in advance. The parenthesis made sense, describing what Mas meant in French – Farmhouse.
Sticking by branding principles, the new offshoot restaurant keeps the naming convention, proving once again slick marketing trumps grammatical logic. (La Grillade) describes the theme of the restaurant, where everything is cooked over wood fire.
During my meal at Blue Hills at Stone Barnes, I experienced for the first time all of the intricate flavors that a wood burning grill can deliver. As such, I was quite excited by the promise of Mas (La Grillade), and that excitement grew as I sat the bar, and saw a chef lug a cart full of wood logs into the side door for the kitchen.
Mas (La Grillade) (this is getting a bit annoying) doesn’t look anything like a farmhouse, in fact Mas: La Grillade (Townhouse) would be a much more accurate description. The split level look, with the gorgeous skylight on the 2nd floor dining area resembles a posh townhouse. During the day, the seats under the skylight makes every other table look dim and unattractive.
During lunch hours, Mas offers a prix fixe menu that’s an excellent value at under $30 per person. This is particularly attractive if you want your noon time meal to be more than eggs benedicts and bacon.
For starters, you get three choices that are remarkably similar. Since the restaurant cooks everything over apple, oak, or other hardwood derived flames, two choices were a pairing of a salad with a grilled item. In my case, it was the trumpet (a.k.a abalone) mushroom. Depending on the season, your choices may vary. Other choices may be a seasonal soup made with charred vegetables, which are always smoky and delicious.
On the recommendation of my Twitter friends, I ordered the grilled oysters. The flame treatment kept the fresh flavors of the east coast mollusks, and the lemon lime shallot dressing added great flavor. I’m not usually a fan of cooked oysters, but these are fantastic.
The swordfish entree was a nicely grilled piece of fish accompanied by root vegetables. The wood fire adds a layer of flavor, but in the process sacrifices some tenderness as the oils drips into the flames. The chef adds some of the juices and moisture back through a light sauce, but it’s not as refined as I had hoped for. Grilled root vegetables are always a crowd pleaser.
Dessert looked like an afterthought when it first appeared on the table, yet this panna cotta was remarkably well thought out. The light sorbet balanced the creaminess and made for a fine finish.
Limiting yourself to a wood fire seems like episodes of Chopped that limited contestants to using the grill, it might be entertaining, but at times misses the mark. For those who enjoy a proper lunch during brunch time, Mas is a good solid option, though it does not live up to its lofty (Farmhouse) heritage.
What does this rating mean?
Rating is for the brunch prix fixe, which is a great value. Comparable in the area to perhaps Perry Street, where brunch goes beyond the standard fare of eggs benedict.