In 2011, M. Wells Dinette was the best-reviewed new restaurant in all of New York City. But that wasn’t enough to keep it from losing its lease and abruptly closing that summer. It has re-emerged as the in-house restaurant for the Museum of Modern Art’s Queen’s outpost, “P.S. 1,” with all its moxie intact, though its hours (sadly) are cut to jibe with the museum’s schedule. Still, there are few finer lunch places in the city, especially if your tastes run to creatively elegant concoctions liked fluke crudo on a bed of smoked sour cream with gooseberries and jalapeno; or pillowy ricotta gnocci with a cheese foam, a red sauce, and huge, juicy chunks of lobster.
Those were just two of the dishes on offer when I last visited; Quebecois chef Hugue Dufour changes the menu daily (desserts are mighty fine, too). Taking its cue from the fact that the museum was a working public school until the mid-[‘]60s, the restaurant is designed to look like a classroom, down to the little nooks in some of the "dining desks" that hold colored pens and pads of graph paper. Flipping through the notebook in my "desk" I came across a cartoon of a goggle-eyed diner with the words “Stop staring at me, weirdo, and keep eating.” That’s sage advice here.
One note: While I recommend visiting the museum, you don’t have to do so to dine here.
- Pauline Frommer