REVIEW #82

Má Pêche

Má Pêche is the odd man out in David Chang’s growing empire: housed in the basement of the Chambers Hotel in midtown, it is the first of his restaurants not located in the East Village, as well as the first to accept reservations. It is more spacious, more comfortable and husbands a more serious wine list (a consequence of its having taken over the space from the defunct Town). Windowless, with a gigantic x-shaped communal table dissecting the dining room, the interior when it opened was atrociously designed. What a loss that they did not simply retain Town’s beautiful interior.  Now the communal table has been re-arranged in two parallel tables and a chef's conter tasting menu has been instituted called Kapp?.  

Put that out of your mind, if you can, as the food is truly first-rate. As at Chang’s other restaurants, the cuisine is impossible to categorize but self-identifies as “American”. Really, it comes closest to French-Vietnamese fusion, a focus suggested by its name, which translates as “mother peach” in an amalgamation of French and Vietnamese. Chang shaped the restaurant in consultation with the Vietnamese-born Tien Ho, his former lieutenant at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, who headed the kitchen at Má Pêche until his departure and replacement by Paul Carmichael in October 2011.   

The best items are truly outstanding: the fries accompanying the steak frites which are, in fact, rectangular rice fries; vegetables that make you rethink everything you thought you knew about vegetables, like the Brussels sprouts with chili vinaigrette, cranberry and scallion, the sunchokes with beef tongue, basil and fish sauce and the carrots with bone marrow, chili and lime. The “Beef Seven Ways”, a $450 extravaganza that showcased a dazzling panoply of meat preparations, including tendon, wagyu, meat pie, ribs, cote de boeuf, brisket and oxtail soup, has lamentably been discontinued, however there is now a tantalizing large format meal comprised of sous vide and then deep fried whole chickens and smoked lamb shoulder . The adjacent Momofuku Milk Bar is an excellent option for picking up a dessert (such as Crack Pie or Compost Cookies) on your way out.

Má Pêche is not the same as Chang’s downtown restaurants but, then again, it doesn’t try to be and it succeeds on its own terms. It earns a spot among the Top 100 restaurants based on the sheer quality of its food alone.

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INFORMATION

Midtown East
15 W. 56th St.
New York (nr. Fifth Ave.)
(212) 757-5878
Mon-Tues, 7am-11am, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Wed-Sat, 7am-11am, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm; Sun, 7am-11am, 5:30pm-10pm
    David Chang, Chef
    Paul Carmichael, Executive Chef
    Johnny Leach, Chef de Cuisine
    Tj Daveldek, Sous Chef
    Eunsook Genardini, Sous Chef

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