The Great Fires

Galen Zamarra goes for smoky simplicity at Mas (la grillade)

The best musicians are as captivating during a solo as they are when backed by a multipiece band.

Using that same system of measurement for chefs, Galen Zamarra is among New York's best.

His first restaurant, Mas (farmhouse), is like an orchestra, its menu refined. Zamarra's new project, Mas (la grillade), focuses on the open flame. Proteins and vegetables, often dressed only in olive oil and grill marks, arrive on stark white plates. It's dinner as impromptu acoustic set.

The most composed dishes are still artfully minimal: A smoky appetizer of artichokes and chanterelle mushrooms ($16) was cooked on a chapa (a flat steel plate set over fire). It was then shocked with lemon juice and hazelnut aioli. The thistle's full range–creamy, salty, amaroidal and acidic–was forceful and delicious.

Squab ($24) saw even less frill: It was spit-roasted and butterflied; its gamey meat was so moist we could have sworn sous-vide was involved.

But the paradigm of Zamarra's success might also be the menu's simplest dish: a single round Carola potato ($4) from Paffernoth Farms, cooked in ashes and touched with butter, crème fraîche and chives. Straight out of a Philip Levine poem, it is luxury created from the quotidian.

Mas (la grillade), 28 Seventh Avenue S. (at Leroy St.); 212-255-1795 or maslagrillade.com