Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mas (farmhouse)

Pleasant surprises can come from letting a restaurant slip down the "to try" list for many years after it has opened. It may have fallen under the radar yet it's still producing some of the best food and best overall meal experiences you'll find in a city with lots of options. And what better time to catch such a spot than for a special occasion.

Mas (farmhouse) was one of those kinds of places. For the purpose of celebrating a friend's milestone birthday, I recently dredged it up from the bottom of a list of places I had in my file. The West Village restaurant is focused on seasonal, sustainable food and succeeds in a great way. It was one of the most approachable and accommodating places I have been to. The server was friendly and knowledgeable about the entire menu and answered our questions thoroughly.  Though there is an a la carte option as well as a four-course tasting menu, our group put our dining fates in the hands of the chef, with the chef's six-course tasting menu, which would be designed just for us, not from the dishes on the menu. The chef composed an amazing evening, even with some dietary preferences, meaning that at times a different dish was given to one dining companion, but without forsaking flavor or innovation.

We kicked it off with an amuse bouche of smoked cod and potato with saffron mayo and a fingerling potato crisp. For the non-seafood eating member of our table, there was a dish of roasted beets, cheese mousse and hazelnuts.

The yellowfin tuna sashimi with balsamic-soy, crispy shallots and brown butter sauce was the restaurant's signature dish. And what a great one. The brown butter played well off the smooth richness of the fresh fish and this was definitely something I could have eaten more of. And once we had seen what the chef could do, we were excited to see what else was to come.