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Mas (farmhouse)

July 15th, 2008 · No Comments


At Mas, the charming West Village restaurant named after the French word for farmhouse, the French countryside is nestled into the arms of urban New York. They make a wonderful couple.

You could walk by the doorway a dozen times before realizing a restaurant lives behind the wooden plaque where the word Mas is elegantly scripted into its grain.

From the moment you enter, it’s as though you’re dining at the home of dear friends. The staff smiles so genuinely and serves you so hospitably, you wonder if they think you might be someone else; someone they know.

Their friendly demeanor does not impact their consummate professionalism. Dishes were delivered and plates were cleared impeccably, and without stiff grandeur or unnecessary flourish. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss how the amuse bouche plate is placed on top of the charger plate just-so, perfectly aligning the leaf design that decorates both. Only after the meal is over will you realize the water glasses were never less than half full.

Natural materials, like stone and wood, are used stylishly to create a contemporary atmosphere. Warm touches, like quilted pillows on the banquet seats, provide homey accents.

At Mas, organic vegetables and proteins are the backbone of French-inspired cuisine that highlights fresh ingredients rather than sauce work and cream. And though there are a few mainstays, Chef Galen Zamarra’s daily menu reflects the best the Green Market has to offer.

The menu looked as intuitive as the design and the service felt, but the execution was not always as successful.

While the meat in the Pork Pate was of the highest quality and its foil of cherries delicious, it tasted like a low fat version. I want my pate to be creamy and decadent. Mas’ was taut and unspreadable.

The ricotta that filled the Baked Cannelloni was luscious, but the pasta that encased it, too thick and al dente. The dish strived for delicacy, but only achieved mediocrity.

Braised Pork Belly was either poorly executed or poorly conceived. The belly’s scrumptious fat was gelatinous rather than crispy and caramelized, reducing the dish to a somewhat bland rendition.

But rest assured, Mas achieved some culinary feats significant enough to bring me back to dine in the future.

Perhaps the night’s biggest triumph was the Yellowfin Tuna appetizer. Hot butter is poured ingeniously over melt-in-your-mouth fish. Without ever touching a pan, the tuna boasted a seared and buttery top. A sprinkling of crispy shallots finished the dish superbly.

Goat cheese sat between sliced Roasted Beets and was showered with crushed pistachios. It was like a beet and goat cheese Chipwich. Easily the most creative presentation I’ve seen of these delicious, but prolific ingredients.

Roasted Sea Scallops had their tops scored before cooking, maximizing their brown and crispy surface area. The scallops were cooked flawlessly and the corn and onion compote they sat atop was sweet, summery, and sublime.

Only one of our desserts shined. Blueberry Cheesecake with a Toasted Buckwheat cake was out of this world while a Rhubarb Crumble and Valrhona Chocolate Torte were good, but far from great.

At Mas, you’re encouraged to create your own tasting menu, make appetizers entrée size, and vice versa. It’s just another way that Mas invites you in and includes you in the atmosphere.

There isn’t a scene to be found at Mas. There is an experience.

Mas (farmhouse)
39 Downing Street
New York, NY 10014

Neighborhood: West Village

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