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.