Tag Archives: Diner

Curly’s Comfortable Quirky {and Vegetarian} Cafe

Curly's Coloring Wall

Sometimes you just want a good lunch spot that doesn’t involve greasy burgers or burritos. Thanks to a lovely lunch with a vegetarian friend I was introduced to Curly’s, a new meat-free twist on the classic diner menu. Before you run in the other direction, let me assure you it’s not just all lettuce and celery sticks.

Curly’s was originally a cafe that opened in 1927 in Manchester, NH and served the locals a traditional menu of bacon & eggs, meatloaf & beans, among other hearty items. Inspired by the comfort quotient, but with the desire to lighten the fare, a new kind of Curly’s was opened in Manhattan to rave reviews.

As you scroll down the menu you’ll see sections for burgers and burritos, which may make you take pause with the understanding that this was supposed to be vegetarian. But upon closer examination you’ll notice the items listed include a fauxphilly cheesesteak, crabfake po’ boy or a TLT sandwich {made of tofu bacon, lettuce, tomato and soy nayo, naturally}. No, these are not typos, but clever riffs on classics. Sure, you may need to swallow your protein pride in favor of tofu and soy, but I promise that these items do not fall short on flavor or satisfaction…or a sense of humor for that matter.

The Skim: Beyond just the comfort of the menu, Curly’s is cozied by the placemat art wallpapering its sunshine yellow walls. Each one-of-a-kind has been designed by patrons while they patiently wait for lunch, making use of the crayons that grace each table alongside the salt and pepper. Curly’s is a place with personality and it won’t leave you in a post-noon food coma — a refreshingly recast dining option.

Map: 328 East 14th {Btw 1st and 2nd ave}
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone: 212.598.9998

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M. Wells: Veal Brain on My Mind

M. Wells Diner

M. Wells Diner

Have you ridden the 7 train out to Hunters Point Ave yet? If your answer was no, my swift reply is WHY NOT?! In the midst of an otherwise industrial and sparse block, stands a small stainless steel building reminiscent of the typical pre-fab diners we associate with an American food trend in the 1950s. But this home of M. Wells diner is anything but typical in menu or atmosphere.

M. Wells is the love child of husband-and-wife team Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis. Dufour, who previously resided at Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon, has brought his appreciation for nose-to-tail dining to a most unexpected neighborhood, in a most unexpected format with the most unexpected menu items, that will have your head spinning and the likelihood of future Hunters Point excursions a certainty.

Tucked away in our own intimate vinyl booth, we started with a blow-your-mind-can’t-get-it-outta-my-mind order of veal brains. Armed with a sense of adventure, I was determined not to leave without first trying this dish. And I probably won’t ever leave M. Wells again without first having a little brain food. The center was smooth and delicate and practically melted away, while the outside was graced with a crispy breading, onions, capers and plenty of butter and lemon — if I didn’t know any better, I might call this Brain Piccata. A must.

Veal Brains

Like Oysters? How about the Beau Soleil Oysters with Coffee Sabayon? It’s like a lighter version of surf n’ turf — a salty delicate oyster topped with, not sea foam, but an earthy, rich coffee-based sabayon. A morning walk on the beach.

Oysters and Coffee Sabayon

Oysters and Coffee Sabayon

One of the other most intriguing starters was the Escargot & Bone Marrow. Both rich and delightful on their own, could obviously only be made better by putting them together. Cut lengthwise, the cavity of the bone was lined with the specialty snails and covered with a blanket of marrow and a red wine puree. Grab a small toast, spread, close eyes, savor, repeat.

Escargot & Bone Marrow

Escargot & Bone Marrow

This is when I suggest you bring enough friends along so you can just keep going. At this point in the meal you’ll be blathering on about how amazing each bite has been, you might be on your second or third equally as intriguing cocktail, you’ve zeroed in on the mighty fine tunes filling the air and you will be glad that there is more to order and friends to share this experience with.

Case in point: we did not shy away from the $85 Aged Cote de Boeuf for Two {we shared with four and had leftovers}. Served on a large platter with Bordelaise sauce, the tender pink cut was the true surf ‘n turf of the evening. Its partner: a large cellophane-lined metal bucket of cajun crawfish that were both steaming and southern-spiced hot to perfection.

Cajun Crawfish

Cajun Crawfish

The Skim: If you’re bored with your regular NYC restaurant haunts, be bored no longer. Of course you have to be one of those people who is willing to travel for food — contrary to popular belief, not all good restaurants live below 14th street. Be sure to make a reservation, as the small digs don’t leave much room for walk-ins and from what I could tell there aren’t too many other options close by. M. Wells is a must for any adventurous, comfort-food seeker who can appreciate eating from brain to chicken feet and anything in between.

Map: 21-17 49th Avenue at 21st street
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 718.425.6917 

Adventures in NYC Dining:
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!
Brooklyn Fare Fares Well, Earning 2 Michelin Stars

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