Mas (la grillade) is a Lunch Worth its Weight in Oysters

Lunch at Mas (la grillade) isn’t something to be taken lightly. It takes awhile, it takes some amount of money, and it takes forethought.

Because the food here is so delectable that it will make everything else that you eat that day taste like crap.

So don’t plan an y important meals that night.

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Mas (la grillade) is a 2012 offshoot of the very popular Mas(farmhouse). The decor and atmosphere remind me very much of Union Square Cafe – elegant, light flooded, but still relaxed and casual enough to go wearing jeans (not ripped of course, and not paired with a tank top). It’s the perfect place for a special date or a lunch with long-lost friends. The banquettes are spacious and the table space is ample.

photo 1 (5)  Bread

Served piping hot from the oven. Yeasty and slightly sour. Spread it with the room temperature butter and don’t forget to spread that truffle salt around – savory and delicate aromas waft upwards as it hits the hot bread. I only ate one piece, but it took a lot of self-control.

Self control is overrated.

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Oysters with shallots and thyme

Quite simply, perfect. I love oysters in all iterations, and these are prepared beautifully. Winter oysters are the most sweet and creamy, and these gently grilled oysters are brimming with that mild, buttery, faintly salty flavor. The heat actually makes the oyster milder than it is when raw. The butter sauce complements the oyster well – it echos the richness without overwhelming it, and the shallots are sweet. The thyme is especially surprising, since it adds an earthiness that oysters don’t typically have. Served with a glass of white wine recommended by our fabulous server (really…the service here is informed, friendly, and totally adds to the experience), my only complaint is that I could eat 35 of these and still want more.

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Grilled romaine with buttermilk blue cheese dressing

I haven’t had cooked romaine in a long time, and why not? I forget how wonderful it is – really hearty and filing with a delicate smokiness that makes this so much more satisfying than a cold salad is on a freezing day. The bacon is crispy but not too smoky so it doesn’t overpower the lettuce. The tomatoes are just a half-hearted afterthought but the dressing is wonderful – more ranch than blue cheese, with cool creaminess punctuated by a few funky, salty nuggets of soft blue cheese.

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Grilled scallops with white radishes, squash puree, and broccoli rabe

The greatest scallops in recent memory. Lightly seared with a golden (NOT black) crust on both sides, but still soft enough to cut with a spoon. Buttery is the best way to describe these in both flavor and texture. Soft but not slimy, warmed all the way through, with a very lightly seasoned crust so the scallops delicate flavor shines through. The broccoli rabe is pleasantly bitter and the squash amplify’s the sweet note in the scallops. The serving is also very ample –  6 gargantuan scallops when most places give you 4 and call it a day. This is a treat for scallop lovers.

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Olive oil cake with blood oranges, lime sorbet, and lemon and vanilla curds

Oh yeah. The pastry chef knows what (s)he is doing. This cake almost has a corny, earthy taste. It’s very moist. The lemon curd is tart and creamy and the vanilla is sweet and fragrant – mix them together on your spoon and it’s like a sophisticated Creamiscle. The sorbet is like the best lime popsicle you ever had, and the entire dessert is so bright and flavorful that it jolts you out of your wintery blues.

This meal isn’t cheap, thought here is a $38 three course prix fixe for lunch. However, the meal is very special. It’s leisurely, it’s delicious, and for the quality of the food and the portion you get, the prices really are warranted. The service is a total standout – I have rarely had someone who so loved food and the restaurant hat he stood around discussing the virtues of different oysters with me and poured my mom a complimentary taste of the wine I was enjoying.

So bring your expandomatic pants and cancel your fancy dinner plans – this lunch may be the meal of your week.

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