Mmma Peche.

29 Jan

It was a last supper of sorts–on my last night home before heading back to Ithaca, I went to Ma Peche with my sister, Sydney.  Even though I was home in New Jersey for a while over winter break, I did not really venture into New York City as much as I thought I would.  But, dear friends, I care more about the quality of my days in New York than the quantity of days I go there.  And Ma Peche was quality.

Upon stepping into the dim corridor out of the frigid January night, we arrived at the host stand and yet another outpost of…Momofuku Bakery!  Nice.  Our hostess directed us into the main dining room promptly, and I was surprised by how much bigger it was than any of the other Momofuku restaurants.  We passed the beautiful raw bar on our way to our seats and then took our place at a quasi-communal set of tables against the far wall.  Although I felt the seats were pretty close together, I realized that I didn’t really feel weird about it after a couple minutes.  The restaurant was not too loud, but there was enough din to make me feel like our neighboring tables could hear every word of my conversation.

OK, OK, I’ll get to the food already.  Ma Peche offers a menu not unlike its Momofuku siblings’, but the menu’s categories reflect its French-Vietnamese flair.  Our menu looked something like the one on the restaurant’s site, offering everything from small plates to entrées and cheeses:

ma peche menu pt. 2

Once our server gave us the menu, she explained that Ma Peche encourages sharing plates for a more communal experience.  At first, I wished that meant it was acceptable for me to dig in to the plate in front of the man to my right, but I refrained.  I figured I could deal with sharing with just my sister.

We really couldn’t decide what to order after perusing the menu for a bit, but since our waitress seemed antsy to take our order, we decided to bite the bullet and pick some stuff.  What could be bad?  Neither of us habitually eats like a linebacker, so we ordered two small plates, an entrée, and a side.

Our first dish was a bowl of Burgundy snails with a fat little link of pork sausage and a piece of crusty baguette.  Although my sister never tried snails before, she loved them, as did I.  A take on the classic escargot, the dish had a delicious pool of buttery garlic-tarragon sauce (instead of the classic parsley-garlic).  A swipe of violet mustard on the side added some floral and sharp contrast.

snails with sausage, tarragon, and garlic

Next, we tried the mackerel with black garlic sauce, horseradish, and apple.  Not only was it a beautiful, simple looking dish, but it was refreshing after the rich snails.  The mackerel was served sashimi-style, with its accompaniments judiciously plated so as not to overwhelm the fish.  Although mackerel can be fishy, it was fresh tasting and meaty, perfectly complimented by the tartness of the apple and deep umami of the black garlic sauce.

mackerel

When the our main dish finally came out–our duck breast with sausage, spaetzel, and scallions–after a relatively long wait, I was surprised by the small portion.  Three slices of duck breast, one duck sausage patty, and spaetzel that amounted to a garnish-like portion?  Methinks I shouldn’t be charged $28 for something nearly as small as appetizers half that price.  Hm…Furthermore, unfortunately, the food was not incredibly hot.  Did something go awry in the kitchen?  Did someone misplace our plate on the pass?  Luckily, the flavors made up for the wait and the portion size, and as I knew of the farm the duck was from (Jurgielwicz), I felt good about eating it.

duck

Our side dish, unlike the duck dish, was enormous.  Our bowl of charred cabbage with beef tongue was big in both size and flavor.  Such a simple dish, but so smart and well-executed.  The cabbage was charred but still crunchy, and the beef tongue was extremely tender and delicious.  Even though we could not make it through the bowl in one sitting, I went for it and got my cabbage doggy-bag on.  So worth it.

cabbage I could not leave behind

Last but not least, we ended our meal on a cheesy note, ordering the Oma and Vaquero cheeses for dessert.  The Oma was smooth, farmy, and rich, and the Vaquero was bold and creamy.  Not a bad ending at all.

All in all, I think Ma Peche is doing great in its early years, as evidenced by the full dining room we sat in.  Although it may take some time for customers to get used to the communal vibe (the couple next to us was pretty awkward about sharing a stack of napkins with us), the idea will catch on.  People like to share their eating experiences.  In my opinion, there is no crime in getting excited over food with those at the table next to yours.

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One Response to “Mmma Peche.”

  1. chefbrian1 January 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Cool meal GIMB,

    I see you are from New Jersey. I am not sure what part, but I assume north Jersey seeing that you venture into the city on breaks. I wanted to name drop my all time favorite Italian restaurant, http://casabella46.com.

    It is located in Denville, NJ

    CB

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