Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

September 18, 2010 11:55 AM

Restaurant: MAS (farmhouse)

MAS (farmhouse)

39 Downing Street
New York, New York 10014
Fax 212-255-0279
Note: I was asked the other day why I never suggest that a restaurant is not very good. As I think I noted many years ago, I only write about restaurants that I enjoyed either for the cuisine or accommodation.

Susie, Jimmy, Debbie, and I came here for dinner after an evening of theater – “Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

As you enter, there is a small area to the left where you can sit to have a drink, probably a waiting area for those whose tables are not yet available. There is a bar to the right.

The main dining area seats about 50 people. There is a banquet that runs along the front wall of the dining area; it continues along the long side wall of the restaurant, and then continues along a part of the back wall of the dining area. There are a series of two-person tables that can be put together for larger parties. We had a great table in the far back corner of the dining area, which allowed us to sit on 3 sides of a table.

On the other long wall of the dining area is a community table with 5 chairs on each side. The walls are dark and dimly lit. The floors are of wood. There is a private dining room behind near the end of the bar.

One of the interesting options of the restaurant is to allow its patrons to order half portions of two entrees.

Susie started with a Salad of Local Green Asparagus and Mizuna with a Pickled Ramp Vinaigrette, Ricotta Dressed with Tarragon and Pink Pepperworms. She then had a half-portion of Ravioli of Goat Cheese, Parsley and Lemon Zest, Roasted Baby Beets and Sugar Snap Peas with a Roasted Garlic Foam, and a half order of Roasted Wild Striped Bass, Ramps Sautéed with Smoked Shiitake, Carrot- Coriander Puree and Fiddlehead Ferns. For dessert she selected Wild Huckleberry-Hazelnut Tart, Huckleberry Ice Cream and Honey Crème Fraiche.

Debbie started with a half-portion of the Ravioli. and then a similar portion of the Pacific Halibut Crushed with Sea Scallops in a Saffron-Cockle Broth, Braised Spring Onions, Fava Beans and a Spring Onion Fondue. She also savored the Huckleberry Tart.

Wild Nettle Soup with a Parmesan Foam and a Stew of Hen of the Woods Mushrooms was the appetizer choice of Jim. He followed that with Roasted Long Island Duck Breast with Mustard Greens and Farro Baby Turnips Glazed with Olives and Rosemary, Turnip Green Puree and a half portion of the Bass. His dessert – a Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate Mousse over Cocoa Streusel, Salted Caramel Ice Cream & Chocolate Ganache.

I started with Duck Rillette with Moutarde Violette and Toasted Brioche, Rhubarb Compote, Field Mache and Dick Crackling Salad. Then, breaking with my usual practice of avoiding beef, I picked Braised Beef Short Ribs and Escargot Glazed and Orange and Parsley, Wild nettle Risotto and Baby Carrots. I was glad I made the exception. They were perfect. The restaurant was not comfortable with the idea that I would only have one entrée, while each of the others were having two, so they brought me a tasting of another entrée, but I do not recall what it was. I finished with Poached Rhubarb over White Chocolate Ganache, Rhubarb Sorbet with a Pistachio Sablee.

The service was very good. I was particularly taken with the fact that our serving person was not comfortable with me having one less course than my companions.

The menu changes daily, and although I do not know what time each day’s menu is posted online, it is likely that you can take a look at the menu before you decide whether you want to eat at the restaurant that day.

The men’s room is tiny. It reminded me of Quince, in its old location in San Francisco. It is very dim. There is a white ceramic commode and a very small white ceramic washbasin. Next to the washbasin is a small stand and over it a mirror. There is a pile of towels. The walls are dark blue.

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