"I don't think this is it," said the cab driver.
Yes, we thought, gazing out at the brick garage with a painted sign over its roll-up metal doors bearing the legend SPECIALIZING IN FOREIGN & DOMESTIC CARS. This is probably it.
It is the eccentric, suavely surreal and altogether amusing and excellent M. Wells Steakhouse, Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis' much-anticipated follow-up to their late, lamented Québécois/Queens diner.
Inside, auto body shop brick walls have been given a glam makeover in boudoir-red. There is gilded wallpaper on the ceiling, a decoupage mural of golden fish and wild birds lining the skylights.
The menu evokes over-the-top fine Francophilic dining: a tureen of onion and bone marrow soup ($14); bone-in chateaubriand for two ($100); a raw-bar round-up entitled The Full Dishes of Excellence ($115). The place is like a French Carbone, as directed by a sly Quebecoise David Lynch.
The veal head marsala ($38) is a sticky, sweet, deeply meaty wonder. The truite au bleu--plucked from its swim and poached quickly in court bouillon, dressed with hollandaise and served with impeccable boiled potatoes and tender cabbage--is pure, ungimmicky luxury. Do you require a supplement of Beef Butter ($25) with your beef? Yes, you do: It's not butter at all but an unimaginably buttery bite of well-marbled meat ordered off the "Sides" menu.
M. Wells is expensive and hard to get to. Its grunge opulence is not for everyone. But it was very much for us. There's probably a reason that two of our favorite spots these days operate out of rehabbed garages (Blanca is the other). But we didn't feel like pondering that one. We wanted sweet cakes from the rolling dessert cart and another glass of wine and to linger for a while before the inevitable taxi was called and the spell was broken.