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Chez Ma Tante

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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 08:43 PM

Chez Ma Tante is a new restaurant in the waterfront warehouse section of Greenpoint (on the corner of Franklin and Calyer).  Because it's named after a hot dog and poutine stand in Montreal, and one of its chefs worked in M. Wells Dinette, it has been described as an Elevated Quebecois Trash place.  But I don't find that helpful.  Nor do I think it casts much light to note that its two chefs came immediately out of Ignacio Mattos's Cafe Altro Paradiso.  It isn't even on target to call this another of the current string of meatstaurants -- although that's closer.  Maybe the best way to think of it is as a more European (as opposed to American), and much less refined, Otway:  hearty forthright food, prepared with evident care and skill.  No, that isn't it, either:  the food here is less imaginative (I don't mean that as any kind of criticism, understand -- just a descriptive).  But I think you're getting the point.

 

Of course, this is just the kind of thing that I like, so of course I liked it.

 

Things started badly, because as soon as I sat down I was told that they were out of the the appetizer and main dish I had pre-chosen from their web menu.  I grumbled bad-naturedly, but the nice bartender pointed out that I was visiting on the Sunday after they had unexpectedly received a highly favorable Eater review from Robert Sietsema, and they were totally unprepared for the huge spike in demand they had experienced over the weekend.  He then went into the kitchen to inquire and discovered that they had a single serving left of the appetizer I'd wanted, a head cheese.  (And it was a HUGE serving.)  So for once I'm not going to complain about this.  (For the record, the main dish I'd wanted -- which they were totally out of -- was veal tongue.)

 

Things then picked up.  The head cheese, while looser than I'd ideally want, was delicious.  For a main dish, I had a kedgeree -- and it was not bland at all (that common downfall of this dish).  You can see what kind of food they're serving here.

 

For dessert, I had the apple sorbet with Polish vodka.  Except they were out of Polish vodka, so I had Tito's.  The sorbet was intense.

 

You'd expect a place like this to have good cocktails, and it sort of did (classics, mainly, rather than house creations -- but none the worse for that; I would say, though, that nice as the bartender was, the technical talent behind the bar did not match that in the kitchen).  You'd expect it to have a good natural wine list, and it did (and markups seemed fairly gentle).

 

You'd expect a place like this to be the kind of place you'd have a great time in.  And it is.

 

COMP DISCLOSURE:  So many drinks that I can't remember how many they were.  Probably some snack-sized food, too -- but I can't quite remember, for reasons encapsulated in the previous sentence.


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#2 Wilfrid

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 11:20 PM

Does look interesting.

And Twitter tells me Skeeter de Guia is there right now!

#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 02:24 AM

Woo hoo!
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#4 Sneakeater

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 07:05 AM

Still chugging along.  Still really good.  Still endless fun.

 

COMP DISCLOSURE:  At least one drink.  PLUS one of the owner bussed one of my plates.


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#5 Wilfrid

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 11:16 PM

I bet they will sell out of the head cheese before I get there.

Just preparing myself.

ETA: And the veal tongue. Maybe I should cancel.

#6 Wilfrid

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 11:22 PM

I should cancel, shouldn't I? Just go to Otway.

#7 Wilfrid

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 03:10 AM

And...neither the head cheese nor the tongue even on the menu (leaving a dull choice of appetizers).

#8 Sneakeater

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 03:13 AM

I should have warned you about the tongue. (Although the head cheese was there a week ago.)
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#9 Sneakeater

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 03:14 AM

The tongue now pops up as a special sometimes.

Not that that helps you.
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#10 Wilfrid

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 02:46 PM

A bumpy ride.

 

I was on the dot for my reservation; seated some forty minutes later.  An hour and twenty minutes between arrival and being served an entree.  As mentioned above, the appetizer selection wasn't as appealing at the restaurant as it was online.  I ended up with chicken liver pate which was no better or worse than most other chicken liver pates.  I'm glad I resisted the fries with aioli, as they turned out to be big potato wedges.

 

I ordered some oysters "with parsley" from the snack menu; they arrived at the same time as the pate. The parsley dressing was okay, but also a fierce vinaigrette, gritty with what I think were tiny pieces of onion, which negated the flavor of the oysters.

 

Unless you were looking for fish or the token vegetarian option, mains were chicken or pork. The pork was billed as "pork shoulder, salse verde, and lentils."  A sea, an ocean of, bland, slightly overcooked lentils which I didn't come close to finishing. The shoulder was cooked al dente -- any Dominican lunch counter will give you a slower cooked, more tender version of the cut.  The salsa verde was very good.  The big problem, nothing on the menu about spice or peppers.  The meat had an assertive spice rub, which might have been okay except that it included Sichuan pepper, something to which I am strongly averse and would never order.

 

The upside to the immediate surrender of my tastebuds, was that I could no longer tell that the second glass of Cahors I ordered was not nice, like the first, but was some sticky, bubble-gum fruit bomb of a wine.

 

I backed away from dessert and out the door.  Nothing I ate would I choose to eat again.  A hundred bucks, of course.



#11 Wilfrid

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 02:49 PM

Not to be compared with Otway, obviously.  



#12 Neocon maudit

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 03:05 PM

Mmm, and I'd had hopes for this place.  In fact we nearly went on Saturday [we were in Bushwick but had a car], and now I'm glad we went to Faro instead.

 

Szechuan peppercorn is the sort of unsubtle ingredient that should always be explicitly mentioned on the menu. :o



#13 GerryOlds

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 10:11 PM

Oof. Can only vouch for brunch, but I think this may be one of the rare places where their daytime menu is better than what's offered at dinner. The kedgeree, which I'm assuming was the fish option you mentioned, is on both menus and is actually really nice.



#14 Daniel

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 05:08 AM

I went with friends a few months ago, it was the day I got home from China. I cant recall one thing about my experience
Ason, I keep planets in orbit.

#15 Wilfrid

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 03:22 PM

I think there was skate as well.  There was some straight fish option.







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