Has there ever been a more drawn-out opening than Má Pêche?
Oh, there are plenty of places that are announced and then take forever to get past the plywood stage. But Má Pêche has been serving lunch for almost six months! Then they added breakfast. Then a bar menu.
To keep the critics out, they’ve studiously avoided serving dinner. Once you serve dinner, you’re a real restaurant, and that means Greene, Richman, Cheshes, Sutton, Sietsema, Platt, and Sifton are on their way. No such compunction applies to bloggers.
I suspect that David Chang isn’t the first chef who has dreamt of soft-opening for months at a stretch while they get their act together. Apparently he has the financial backing that allows him to do it. Good for him. Meanwhile, the Chambers Hotel hits the jackpot, with more attention in the last half-year than it has had in the last half-dozen.
Má Pêche is right out of the Momofuku mold: asian spices, local ingredients, French technique, and a minimum of formality. He has tweaked his forumula for the transfer uptown. The supposedly Vietnamese-inspired menu seems a bit more Frenchified, the staff a bit more professional. But only a bit. Má Pêche seems about as Vietnamese as Momofuku downtown was Korean.
I stopped in just for a snack, ordering the chou-fleur chiên, or fried cauliflower with curry, mint, and fish sauce ($12). I’m no Momofukologist, but this seemed right out of David Chang’s playbook.
True to form, the menu advises that the cauliflower is from Satur Farms, Long Island. It’s an excellent dish—better for sharing, as that much cauliflower gets cloying after a while. But this is a bar menu, after all.
There are about a dozen dishes available— nothing like a full menu, but certainly more than enough to put together a terrific meal. The cocktail list consists of classics, slightly tweaked, such as the Seven Spice Sour that I had. At $14, they aren’t giving them away.
The bar space isn’t especially pleasant, with the countertop bisected by an unsightly column. If this wasn’t a Momofuku restaurant, it would be nobody’s favorite bar. Even now, based on reports and my own observation, you can basically walk in anytime. That surely won’t last.