Three of us had lunch there last Saturday (past the opening week, I know). We liked what little we ate. We ordered the fried cauliflower (with "curry, mint, fish sauce"), the chicken & morels pate (with "pickled ramps"), and the grilled branzini (with "long beans, almonds, coconut"). Everything was very good, although the food could use a little tweaking.
The cauliflower was almost perfectly caramelized on the outside. A floret here and there had strayed across the line, however, from the perfectly bronzed to the slightly burned. The fish sauce and curry were used with restraint. I'm not a fan of curry powder blends, and I was pleased to see that the chef realized that a little goes a long way. The pate was a bit of a disappointment, with the texture of a slightly too-firm gelatin, and with too little flavor from the morels. The pickled ramps turned out to be "ramp honey", or so our server said. It was lovely, but I couldn't help feeling that a restaurant of this quality should get its menu descriptions right. I also found myself wondering what ramp honey is -- honey from bees that only suck nectar from ramps (is that even possible?) or honey flavored with ramps? The dish was delightful to behold: three beautiful slices of pate, with an intricate mosaic-like appearance, separated by two dabs of honey, and balanced on the other side of the plate by two slices of toasted baguette. Since we were three at the table, the division of the toast was a little problematic. There was a slice of pate for each of us, but we had to break off pieces of toast. The branzini was superb -- moist flesh and a crisp skin sitting on a bed of long beans, and covered with tiny, crunchy almond nuggets. It would have been the crowning glory of the meal had it come last. Instead the restaurant fell back on the jaded family-style excuse and brought out the fish first, the cauliflower next, and the pate last. I'm not sure what the style is in the families these restaurateurs come from, but surely they must realize that the order in which you eat things is important? I'll have to learn to be explicit about order the next time I eat there.
These are minor complaints, though. The food is very good, and it has the clear potential to soar.
I went the first week so some of this may have changed since then. We got there at noon and were told that they were not opening until 12:30. I am hoping this was just because it was their first week. When we did get seated the place filled up quickly. Pretty big room, very high ceiling - 2 floors opened up so when you walk in you actuall walk down one flight. The bar is on that first floor and overlooks the dining room. We had short ribs and the ground pork/noodle dish. They were good but it was salty. That was my number one impression on the food - salty. People next to us had a sausage and escargot app which they both seemed to enjoy.
Also price wise it was more than you would normally pay for lunch during the work week. So good for once in a while maybe but the $10 menu they were running at the chambers is not in Ma Peche main dining room (although I am told they still serve it upstairs at the Chambers). So no Bahn mi sandwiches on the menus unfortunately. Also, Milk Bar upstairs for cookies and such afterwards.
I really like the other Momo places so I really wanted to love this place. I will probably go back but will hope that the foot is not as salty as it was this time. Part of the perils of going just when the restaurant opened (although I had been under the mistaken impression it had been open for a few weeks).
15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019