Left the taxi at the intersection of Northern Blvd and Jackson Avenue.
“Seven dollars,” said the driver.
Passed the driver ten dollars and said keep the change.
Pockets of snow remained on Jackson Avenue. Lights illuminated a construction sight along Jackson Avenue. Workers dragged a hose through mud and you felt sorry for the men because they worked with their boots in the mud. But, you knew they were happy for the overtime and didn’t feel sorry for long.
Not many people walked Jackson Avenue.
You noticed the Manhattan skyline. Mid-town building lights looked pretty against the night sky. You walked Jackson Avenue until you reached forty-third street. There you turned right and continued straight in the direction of M.Wells Steakhouse.
All for your Friday glass of wine.
You walked in the street because the sidewalks remained impassable. On both sides of forty-third street you saw construction sites. One site bigger than the other. You turned left on Crescent Street. Another two construction sites. Across the street from one site stood a converted loft building. You saw an advertisement for apartment rentals but knew the price was beyond your means. Now, however, the wind blew off the East River and you were happy to afford any glass of wine that you wanted.
The wind was perfumed with the scent of BBQ smoke and the scent became stronger the closer you came to M. Wells. The air smelled sweet and that made you smile while you walked.
It’s easy to miss M. Wells Steakhouse. No shingle. No welcoming sign. A silver metallic garage door pulled down in front of the restaurant. To the right of the silver door is a red brick wall. White graffiti on the top half of the brick wall. To the right of the bricks is a six-foot-high wooden fence. A string of white lights run the parameter of the fence. In the background lights from apartment buildings in Long Island City. For a moment, you couldn’t find the entrance to the restaurant, but then you found the opening. You walked a few feet inside a mini-courtyard until you found the restaurant’s door.
Entrance for M.Wells Steakhouse, Long Island City. To enter: Push the near left wooden fence section. It’s that easy.
A hostess stood behind a velvet curtain.
“Do you have a reservation?” she asked.
“A drink at the bar.”
The hostess smiled and pointed you to the bar.
A thick dark colored stone served as the bar’s top. The bartender brought over a cocktail menu. He wore a long sleeve black shirt and black pants. A cook stood behind a raw bar. A black and white silent film played on a small screen on the far left of the bar. Otis Redding sang ‘Sitting By the Dock of the Bay’ over the sound system. The sound level loud enough to put a smile on your face, but not so loud that you couldn’t converse.
“What would you like?”
Ten specialty house cocktails. ($13). Seven beer and ciders ranging from $6 to $16. Assorted whiskey, rye, scotch, vodka and gins. Two Sparkling Wines by the glass. ($13-$18). Five white/Rose selections by the glass. ($ 11-$15). Five reds by the glass. ($12-$21).
You choose a Sonoma Valley Cabernet. 2012 Bucklin “Old Hill Ranch,” ($21) because you wanted to feel better than the words printed out off an e-mail that you carried in your back pocket.
The bar tender poured you a taste.
The Cabernet’s color so dark the wine looked more blue than red. You swirled the glass and smelled Oak wood and a scent that made you think of fruit, but you weren’t sure which fruit.
“It’s starting to open, isn’t it?” asked the bar tender.
He poured the wine into your glass.
The room filled. The crowd ? Call them Hipsters Plus. Black turtle necks, Woolen sweaters. Petti bone glasses. You watched the head waiter work the room. Smooth. Enthused. Passionate. He made everyone forget they dined inside a former garage. You looked at the restaurant’s maroon brick walls, the low antique chandeliers and how the light bounced off the metallic gate. So cool, you thought.
Here’s how it’s done. The headwaiter at M. Well’s greets diners.
An open kitchen on the right side of the room. Cooks with tilted baseball caps and focused gazes worked. You lifted your ‘Old Hill Ranch’ Cabernet Sauvignon and sipped the wine. You remembered what it was like to work in a kitchen and wondered if you could ever again have the same focused gaze as the cooks at M. Wells.
Under the watchful gaze of others…Cooks at work in the open kitchen at M. Wells Steakhouse.
When you finished the wine you asked for the check. Steven, the bar tender, asked what you thought of the Cabernet. Wonderful, you replied and promised to return soon.
You stood on Crescent Street. The wind calmed. The Mid-Town lights looked brighter than when you arrived. Cars still waited to get on the Queensboro Bridge. You watched four people struggled to find the restaurant’s door. You showed them where to push the wooden fence and all of you laughed.
You didn’t wait long for a taxi. Just before the taxi arrived you read the print out of the e-mail one last time. The taxi pulled to the curb. You tore the paper in half and tossed it in the trash.
We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider it.
Open 5:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Trains: Short walk from Queens Plaza.
Parking: Very,very easy.
Bathrooms: Large and clean.