Note: Click here for a more recent review of Mas (farmhouse).
I’ve had Mas on my mind since it opened in 2004. Although Frank Bruni in the Times was lukewarm, awarding just one star, Adam Platt raved in New York. I was more inclined to trust Platt. But I tend to make most of my bookings just a few days in advance, and it seemed Mas was always full. Anyhow, I finally got my act together, and scored a 6:45 p.m. table on Friday night.
The restaurant’s name means “farmhouse” in Provençal. Indeed, the décor announces its rusticity beginning with the enormous wooden door. However, it is also one of the more elegant restaurants in Greenwich Village, with its white tablecloths, bone china, and polished service.
The farmhouse reference also suggests Galen Zamarra’s zeal for seasonal ingredients. The menu changes daily, with only about six or seven appetizers, and a similar number of entrees. Each one comes with a long list of accompaniments, such as “Roasted beets baked with Westfield Farm goat cheese, baby greens, almonds & cucumbers”; or, “Roasted wild sea trout, thumbelina carrot stew, beans & white asparagus.”
Alas, there is no online version of what we had. The amuse bouche was a small square of butternut squash quiche—naturally, with three or four other ingredients that the server dutifully recited. My friend and I both started with the Trout Piscator ($16). She said, “There’s no way you’ll be able to describe everything that’s in here.” Even Frank Bruni was stumped, simply referring to “the delicious trout appetizer.”
The chicken entree ($34) was more straightforward: it came with wild mushrooms and mashed potatoes. The skin was crisp, the flesh tender. My friend ordered turkey ($36), which we both found slightly dry and a bit less flavorful. It did strike me that even the better of the two dishes, the chicken, was a tad over-priced at $34.
Only a restaurant like Mas would offer a butternut squash cake ($10) for dessert and get away with it, but the accompanying raspberry sorbet was an odd bedfellow.
The wine list is excellent, but expensive. I noted only one red under $50. We were delighted with a Herman Story Grenache, but at $70 it was more than we usually pay for wine.
Service was polished and attentive. Mas is one of those restaurants that does not leave the open wine bottle on your table. I usually prefer to control the bottle myself, but I didn’t mind at Mas, as they were always diligent about refilling our glasses. The one glitch was the bread service, which came with butter that was still frozen.
Mas always makes the list of the city’s most romantic restaurants. The room is charming, the service excellent, and the food first-class.
Mas (39 Downing St. between Bedford St. and Seventh Ave. South, West Village)