1 at Houston St.
Appetizers, $9 to $18; entrées, $24 to $49.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
Mas (la grillade), which opened several months ago in a slightly ungainly two-tiered space on lower Seventh Avenue, is the brainchild of another talented, classically trained chef attempting to adapt his refined cooking style to the tastes of the increasingly informal, rusticated dining world. Galen Zamarra trained under David Bouley, among others, and runs the excellent haute-barnyard farm-to-table restaurant Mas (farmhouse), on Downing Street. His new place is designed, as the name indicates, as a kind of casual bookend to the original operation. The menu is held together with bits of twine, and features elemental dishes (“fire-popped” popcorn, “wood-fired” oysters, “spit-roasted” squab) cooked over an open flame. The tables in the restrained, well-appointed room are set with guttering candles, and the air is perfumed with the faint aroma of wood smoke.
Unfortunately, most of the dishes I sampled were devoid of that just-off-the-fire crackle and gusto that characterize the best kind of open-flame cooking. “This is like something you’d find at a restaurant in Colonial Williamsburg,” said one of my tasters as she sipped at a bowl of admirably rustic but curiously bland organic pecan soup. I enjoyed my small-plate anchovy-and-ricotta tartine appetizer, although I can’t say the same about the tepidly cooked, exorbitantly priced spit-roasted squab ($36) or the expertly arranged but strangely denatured duck cassoulet ($36). The pricey New York strip steak ($42) was the only thing I sampled at this polite but oddly unaffecting little restaurant that had a proper grilled bite to it. The haute-farm-style desserts are mercifully free of wood-fired items, although you may detect a vague hint of smoke in the upside-down cake, which is made with fresh grilled pears, a scoop of honey ice cream, and an elegant huckleberry compote.Note
The bar features a sophisticated bourbon list, and an excellent selection of cocktails by former Eleven Madison Park mixologist Shiraz Noor.Ideal Meal
Anchovy tartine, New York strip steak, pear upside-down cake.