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Nov 12, 2013 06:08 PM

M. Wells Steakhouse

M. Wells Steakhouse is open. The restaurant is fenced by minimalist wood slats that open to a courtyard. Inside, the decor is a mix of industrial flooring, metals and found-art chic. M. Wells is the most aesthetically cool restaurant in Queens and one of the most in NYC. The trough for live fish and open kitchen are not only visually arresting but also utile in design.

Bread buns are served deliciously hot with a fresh circle of butter. The bread is gorgeously browned, with a fluffy, yeasty interior and a salty pretzel flavor.

I started with M. Wells Caesar. The preparation of the salad is done at an open station. The salad is crisp romaine buried under a heaping snow of parmesan shavings. The lettuce is very lightly dressed in herring sauce with croutons. The herring is subtle and the dish as a whole is rather restrained but well executed.

The bone in hamburger is a hamburger patty with a long bone protruding from its center. The patty is an elegantly blended mix of top rounds (grass and corn fed respectively) and aged brisket. The housemade sesame bun is expertly baked with an airy moistness and thin crust. The burger was perfectly cooked, crusty sear, medium rare, almost bloody and bathed in remoulade. A very well composed, well presented burger.

I ordered a side of poutine. The fries are crispy and the cheese curds had a consistency of a fresh paneer with the creamy flavor of mozzarella. The gravy was a bit salty for me. I wish the gravy had a bit more meatiness or smokiness.

The meal concludes with a jaw dropping dessert cart. I ordered red velvet cake. The red velvet cake has a banana bread/carrot cake-like consistency and crumb. Not the typical tighter and airy crumb that you might find at Baked or Lady M. The balance of sweetness is quite judicious and pleasing, thankfully not cloyingly sweet as can be with some restaurants. The frosting has cream cheese mellowed by creme fraiche, which is appreciated as I don't care for the flavor of cream cheese. I prefer a tighter and smaller crumb, but lovers of fruit/vegetable cake will enjoy the texture.

The service is solicitous, informed and warm, although a touch leisurely. The owner and hostess Sarah Obraitis is charm and beauty. Hugue Dufour was dapper and media ready even as he was cooking, as there were photographers and camera crew documenting the opening.

My initial impression is, M. Wells Steakhouse is easily one of the best restaurants, if not the best in Queens. They have an interesting selection of oysters to explore. The lobster roll looked really delicious, given their expert way with breads, it looks like a must order for a next visit.

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    1. Let me be sure I have this right. This was the opening night of a steakhouse and you ordered a burger with a bone in it and poutine?

      It was initially reported that it was going to be friends and family Tuesday and Wednesday with the regular public being let in on Thursday. Was that the case?

      10 Replies
      1. re: Bob Martinez

        Last night was strictly friends and associates

          1. re: AubWah

            Just saw this AubWah.... the night I went was NOT friends and associates only. I was not given a special invite, was not comped for food or drink, nor am I connected to M. Wells as a friend or co-worker, nor have I ever been, I am not a food critic, do not have a food blog and don't even have a Yelp account. Thanks for the peanut gallery, you and the other guy can give each other mutual helping hands or tugs, congratulating yourselves with big smiles.

          2. re: Bob Martinez

            I'm really glad the OP ordered the bone-in hamburger since it is the item that piques my curiosity the most.

            Seriously, if the OP was part of Wells' friends or family, don't you think s/he would've ordered steak, knowing it would be comped? It appears to me that the OP took a chance and showed up, got what was appealing to him/her, and Wells gladly took in some money last night.

            1. re: foodiemom10583

              The steak for one is $55. I'm not ashamed that I couldn't afford it in my budget for this week, I have a budget. Even the salad, hamburger and dessert was a splurge for a regular weekday night. More than anything, I think the point was not to say I shouldn't have ordered a burger, his point was to make me feel bad.

              1. re: Pookipichu

                I read it as more of a "Why didn't you didn't order steak at a steakhouse" comment. I honestly didn't read any financial issues into it. I would have probably ordered the same for the novelty of it, regardless of the pricing.

                1. re: foodiemom10583

                  Foodiemom, I always try to give people the benefit of a doubt. Let's just say I've been burned a few times and now I know better how to discern intentions.

              2. re: foodiemom10583

                The friends and family dinners on Tuesday and Wednesday were widely reported. I quoted Eater earlier. Here's an article from the LIC Post -


                And one from DNAInfo -


                My original comment was this:

                "It was initially reported that it was going to be friends and family Tuesday and Wednesday with the regular public being let in on Thursday. Was that the case?"

                The question was fair. He chose not to respond.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  Yes, Bob, I read your original comment. But then, you answered your own assertion thusly:

                  "Yep - confirmed. Last night was friends and family."

                  The OP did, in fact, respond to your question downthread.

                  1. re: foodiemom10583

                    Foodiemom, apparently my posts defending myself and addressing rudeness were deleted. Basically, the original article, dated 11/8/2013 on Eater NY said M. Wells Steakhouse was opening on Tuesday.


                    No mention of it being exclusive/friends & family. I went to the restaurant, was welcomed and asked how many in my party. No mention of friends & family.

                    It was only the day AFTER, that media reported the opening as friends & family only. A quick google check would have confirmed that. Moreover, the opening being exclusive was reported erroneously. About a third of the room when I was there were people unassociated with the restaurant. Friends and family were all milling together. Nor was there "rattlesnake" or "lion" on the menu as reported by some outlets.

            2. Hugue is so dapper, I understand he is under discussion for a GQ cover sometime in 2014..

              1. can i ask what's the point of a hamburger with a bone in it?

                5 Replies
                1. re: jon

                  I think the "bone in" burger marks a new culinary trend. We've all heard about chefs deconstructing traditional dishes into their component parts. Here Chef Dufour is "reconstructing" the burger. The insertion of the bone cleverly reminds diners that the burger is made from a steer which originally had bones before they were removed by the butcher.

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    Sound like the rib samsy's they sell at the Uzbek restaurants.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      I got the deconstructed/reconstructed thing. But is there some other reason more related to food taste rather than food philosophy that would lead anyone to want a hamburger with a bone poking out of it?

                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                        Per Kenji at the food lab, the bone insulates meat while cooking but provides no notable flavoring during cooking:


                    2. re: jon

                      It's just playful presentation.

                      Not everything has a deep philosophical purpose behind it.

                    3. Just to clarify, the restaurant was and is open to public, I was not on a guest list and am just a regular patron. I read about the opening on Eater NYC and showed up when they opened, they did not turn me away nor did they turn away others.

                      There is no rattlesnake or lion on the menu. My understanding regarding the bone in hamburger is that it evokes the hunk of meat the patty was ground from. M. Wells Steakhouse is quirky and I appreciate that they are willing to be different.

                      7 Replies
                        1. re: kevin

                          There is no menu posted that I know of, I have photos of the menu that I can post.

                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                Any idea what "Topnecks by the Bottle" means on the raw bar menu? I'm coming up blank.

                                1. re: JonL

                                  I have no idea, I had to have more than a few items explained to me.

                                2. re: Pookipichu

                                  Wow, that's a really cool dessert cart too.