Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Great Tasting Menu at Mas (Farmhouse)

Oh how I've missed you all! Please accept my deepest apologies for how long it's been since my last post. Life has been a little hectic lately as I recently got a new job. I am now the Manager of Community Management for two major food industry brands at a large advertising agency in New York. This is truly my dream job, and I feel so lucky to have gotten it. I'm working with wonderful people, and I'm working with what I love: food and social media. Thanks to my friends, my family and my amazing boyfriend for all the love and support.

Now, on to the important stuff. I recently decided I wanted to take Patrick out for a special meal to thank him for the aforementioned love and support, especially during these last few months as my professional life got a bit overwhelming. I told him he could pick anywhere in NYC, and while we entertained thoughts of the tasting menu at WD-50, incredible fish at Le Bernardin, he finally decided on the West Village's Mas (Farmhouse).This was a restaurant we used to pass daily as we walked into our old job in Soho, and somewhere we have both always wanted to try. We waited until a holiday weekend in New York, knowing the city would be very quiet (just the way we like it) and ventured down to the Village for our meal.

From the moment we stepped into the restaurant, I knew this was going to be an experience like nothing we'd ever had before. We were shown to a cozy table for two in the busy but not overly crowded restaurant, and settled in for our food adventure. We noticed the menu mentioned a 6-Course Tasting Menu, but we couldn't find the actual menu for that anywhere. We asked our waiter, and he explained how it works.

You tell him your food likes and your dislikes, things you want to try and things you want to avoid, and the chef creates a custom tasting menu based on your preferences and based on whatever is fresh that day. True "farm to table," this was a concept that was just too good for us to pass up. I told the waiter that I liked almost everything, just nothing too spicy and nothing with too much butter. Pat noted that he did like spicy and would pretty much eat anything. And with that instruction, our meal was underway. It's no secret that I like to take pictures of my food, but this place, and this night and this vibe, it just didn't seem right. I decided to put the camera away for the night and just take everything in. Hopefully, I will be able to describe the food to help you envision it, but apologies for the lack of photos.

We had some very yummy cocktails while we waited in anticipation for what was to come. I had a vodka grapefruit concoction while Pat opted for his usual Manhattan. The first dish that came out was fresh shrimp with several fresh vegetables, and it was quite delicious. I know I just said fresh twice, but that doesn't even begin to describe it. It was as if the shrimp had just been plucked from the sea and the vegetables picked from a garden outside. This was a great start to our meal. Also, each dish was brought out by two people who placed the plates on the table, in front of each of us, in perfect unison, and then plucked the empty plates from us as soon as they were empty. A nice touch.

The next course needs not only its own paragraph, but its own blog! It doesn't sound spectacular, but oh boy, was it ever. The two waiters placed small bowls of green liquid in front of us and we truly had no idea what we were in for. Asparagus soup with shaved white truffles, poached scallops, sweet corn and trumpet mushrooms. One bite of this soup and Patrick and I looked up at each other in a moment of pure food bliss. The broth was a little sweet, incredibly fresh, full of intensely amazing flavor and the epitome of absolute perfection in a bowl. There is no way for me to emphasize this enough, it was simply the most divine thing I have ever tasted. The scallops were buttery and tender, the corn was sweet and the truffles and trumpet mushrooms added an earthiness to the soup that knocked it out of the park. I literally picked up my bowl for the last sip and almost licked it clean. Then I remembered my manners and didn't, but I REALLY wanted to!

When the waiters surrounded our table to lift the plates away, it was like saying good-bye to an old friend. I knew that I had to have that soup again and that any dish that came after would pale in comparison. At this point our waiter seemed to have realized that he forgot something pretty big and asked us if we'd be interested in a wine pairing with the rest of our courses. We were interested, but a little annoyed that he was only asking us now after we were two dishes in. At this time, new plates were placed in front of us and we prepared ourselves for the next dish. A simple piece of Halibut sat in the center of the plate and we were served two glasses of red wine. I was surprised that the wine was red to pair with fish, but it was actually perfect. Light, slightly chilled and crisp, it paired very well with the dish. Halibut is one of my favorite fishes for its sheer simplicity, so I was pretty excited. And for good reason. The fish was light, flaky, buttery and fresh. It was unspoiled by any heavy sauces or seasonings and was just very simple and delicious. The piece of fish wasn't very large, but was just enough to be a satisfying seafood course. Again our plates were whisked away, and we were ready for the next course.

Roasted chicken with crispy skin was again paired with a delicious red wine. The chicken was moist and full of flavor, the skin was perfectly crispy and salted just to my liking. The wine was smooth and paired beautifully. We thoroughly enjoyed this course but we were both hoping for a heartier meat to finish off the pre-dessert courses. And speaking of dessert, I actually asked the waiter if my final course could be something savory, like a cheese course, and he told me it wouldn't be an issue. The next plates were brought out, and we were both very excited to see that the final dinner course was a crispy pork belly. Patrick and I both love pork belly and this dish certainly didn't disappoint. Properly fatty, tender, savory and yummy, our plates were empty almost immediately. A third glass of red wine, this time a bolder, richer wine, was paired with the pork and was really able to stand up to the flavor of the meat.

As we waited for our dessert course and finished our final glasses of red, we began to look back on the meal and discuss how much we both enjoyed it. We really couldn't get over how incredible the asparagus soup with scallops had been and we discussed how we'd go about describing it to friends before deciding we'd never be able to do it justice. Even now, as you're reading this, you won't be able to fully appreciate this soup unless you go to Mas yourself and try it. It's just that good!

Unfortunately a piece of cake was placed in front of me, and I was disappointed that the waiter had messed up my final course at such a nice restaurant. I didn't want to complain, so I ate some of it (confirming how little I really like cake) and the waiter stopped by the table to check on us. He looked at my plate and realized his oversight. Now don't get me wrong, I'm okay with mistakes as long as they're handled properly. This was not. To make up for accidentally bringing me out a sweet dish when I told him I favored savory to sweet, he poured us a complimentary glass of sweet dessert wine. It was really surprising to me that he thought this was an acceptable make-good, but our meal had been so incredibly good that I let it slide.

I paid the bill and we were back out into the New York City night with our stomachs full of incredible food. For a wonderful tasting menu experience, I highly recommend Mas (Farmhouse) and hopefully they will work out the small service glitches to make it a truly perfect experience.

Do you enjoy tasting menus or do you prefer larger portions of less dishes during a meal? There are a lot of tasting menus I still want to try, but I'm so happy we tried Mas.

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

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