'm. wells dinette' on Serious Eats

Carey's Favorite New NYC Restaurants of 2012

You know a restaurant opening is an important one when, a few months later, you can't imagine New York without it. 2012, despite plenty of closures even before a catastrophic storm that crippled, closed, or delayed so many restaurants, was a fantastic year for eating in the city. Here are my favorites of the year: not just full-service restaurants, but the odd bakery, cocktail bar, and Mediterranean lunch joint thrown in for good measure. More

M. Wells Dinette: Long Island City Strikes Back

In 2010, M. Wells Diner emerged in Long Island City, and before long it became something of a white-hot legend. Critics heralded the arrival of a new gastronomic genius to New York's food world, and it commanded two hour waits for eaters from Queens, Manhattan—even Brooklynites came hungry. And then fourteen months after it opened, it closed. A rent dispute couldn't be resolved, the place disbanded, and M. Wells the legend went quiet.

It's now re-emerged in a new form, M. Wells Dinette, the new cafe of MoMA's PS1 also in Long Island City. The retro diner trappings have been replaced by a bright, airy space housed within a postmodern museum (the aesthetic theme is school cafeteria redux, which is thankfully not overdone). The menu is smaller, both in number of dishes and in terms of their size—not small by any means, but no megaburgers either. And it appears more focused and pared down. We know Dufour and his team can cook. But will this pared down menu and more focused approach make for a more consistently pleasurable dining experience? After our recent visit, we'll—cautiously—say that it can.

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