Lara also is founder and editor of Grits in the City
Since Manhattan was a ghost town for the Fourth of July weekend, a friend and I decided to play OpenTable Roulette on our way back from Long Beach – soon extending our search even further to include spots we’d been meaning to try but never figured on scoring a prime Saturday dinner reservation. Which is how, at the last-minute, we found ourselves headed to Mas Farmhouse to treat ourself to a very nice dinner after a warm day in the sun.
Mas is known for sourcing its ingredients as much as possible from sustainable farming operations just outside of the city. The restaurant was candlelit and was partly empty, like most of the city. It felt appropriately in line with our relaxing day. We both started off with one of their seasonal cocktails – the greenmarket strawberry, a combination of organic strawberries, house-infused lemon vodka, elderflower liqueur, and Tahitian vanilla-perfumed sugar. We also started with their Maryland soft-shell crabs appetizer. The crabs were crusted with almond flour and paired with a cremer bean salad, Bibb lettuce, and pickled shishito peppers with poppy seed dressing. I’d never had soft-shell crab, and prefered the subtle flavor of it to the usual crab taste.
For my main course, I went with the roasted Violet Hill Farm “Belle Rouge” chicken breast stuffed with capers, thyme, lemon and pine nuts, served with baby carrots, swiss chard, and new potatoes roasted with duck fat. I felt a bit lame contemplating the chicken, but the server encouraged my decision, noting it was one of the better things on the menu. And after it arrived, I had to agree. It was extremely flavorful, with alternating bites highlighting different components of the dish. I’d never seen such interesting presentation of chicken – a cascading series of slightly stuffed medallions. My friend had the Pacific Halibut wrapped in leeks, which was served with zucchini and summer squash sautéed with onion brulee (the dish typically also features chanterelles, but those were left off due to an allergy).
For dessert, I persuaded her to try the poached sweet cherries over a cocoa nib tart, accompanied by cocoa nib ice cream and cocoa gelée. Our server encouraged us, saying it was one of their best current seasonal offerings. It was refreshing with the cool ice cream (not too sweet – more of a bitter cocoa flavor to it) and the cherries had been sliced so they almost looked like the fruit version of sliced olives. It was definitely one of the least sweet desserts I’ve had in a long time, but it was a refreshing change of pace. And my friend who’d hesitated since she doesn’t usually like cherries found she loved it as well. We were even each given a mini lemon tart along with our bill to help cleanse our palate. While its price means I won’t be back frequently, I thoroughly enjoyed this last minute dining excursion. Innovative and fresh.
Mas Farmhouse – 39 Downing Street – 212.255.1790
Additional offerings include $68 for a three-course tasting menu (menu lists suggestions, but you are allowed to choose from the entire menu) or $95 for a six-course Chef’s tasting menu