Texting From Mar’s. Oh Yeah, Astoria.

“So, it’s a guy?”

She is in front of  Kaufman Studios. She points to a corner restaurant. Black mesh tables and wooden folding chairs on a raised deck outside the restaurant. The building’s walls painted battleship grey. “You’ve been to Mar’s?”

Use Outside Mars

Ready for warmer weather ? Outside tables are at Mar’s along 34th Avenue in Astoria

Light turns green. She crosses the street. Strolls into Mars.

Marble top bar in center of room. Low concrete ceiling. Wooden floor. Candles on tables. Low lighting. Four large – framed color photographs against one wall. Hostess works the room. Waiters in white shirts attend to customers at tables. Low level rhythmic music. Bearded bartender comes over with drink menu. Puts down a list of oysters. Eight choices ($2.75-$2.95) along with special of the day.

Flips to list of Mar’s Classics . Reads three of the eleven specialty cocktails out loud.

Blood Moon. ($11) “Tequila, Cassis, lemon juice, ginger beer, bitters.”

French Western. ($12) “Bourbon, Kas Krunpnikas, Salers, lemon juice, bitters.”

Mar’s Manhattan. ($15) “Knob Creek Bourbon, Cynar, Busnel Calvados, Brooklyn Hemispherocal Black Mission Fig Bitters.”

Bartender returns. She looks up and down the menu. “French Western,” she says.

“And for you?” asks the bartender.

“Glass of Joel Bonnet, Muscadet, 2013.” ($10/$39).

 

Wine at Mars

“I like on the table, when we’re speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine,” wrote Pablo Neruda.

Door swings open. Eleven of thirteen seats at bar taken.  Bartender knows most customers by name. “Hey, Mike, How you doing?”

His voice is polished. He asks about the drinks. Then greets another customer.

“So, what’s the problem?”

“We work together,” she whispers. Her voice sounds sad. “And, he smokes cigarettes.”

She lifts her French Western. Her fingers tap against the marble bar top. Gets up to use the bathroom.

A couple arrive. They take the last available seats at the bar.

She returns.  Sits and lifts the French Western. “We were texting.”

She looks left. A man is with a woman. He is drinking the beer. “You know him? she whispers. She doesn’t wait for a reply. “Tim Cornish,” she says. “Plays bass and sings vocals for The Gantry.”

The Gantry?”

“Astoria band…My guy’s a big fan.”

“So, he’s still your guy?”

Bartender draws the check. She goes outside. Sticks her hands in her pocket. Pulls out her cell phone. “Guess who I saw drinking a beer at Mar’s?” she texts.

Key Information:

Mar’s

Address: 34-21 34th Avenue, Astoria, New York 11106

Phone: 718-685-2480

Kitchen: 5pm-11pm

Raw Bar: 5pm-1am

Bar: 5pm-3:30am

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 5pm-7pm

Website: http://lifeatmars.com

Bathroom: Clean and well decorated

Best Subway Line: “N”, “R”

Bus: Q 101

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How to Find M.Wells Steakhouse While Forgetting Much and Enjoying a Glass of Wine.

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.

M.Wells Outside 2

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.

Bartender Steve

Steven, the bar tender at M. Wells Steakhouse, pours a glass of the 2012 Bucklin “Old Hill Ranch” Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

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.

Inside Metal Gate 1

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.

Open Kitchen 1

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.

Dear Robert,

We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider it.

Sincerely,

The Editors

Info:

M. Wells Steakhouse

(718) 786-9060
Open 5:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Trains: Short walk from Queens Plaza.
Parking: Very,very easy.
Bathrooms: Large and clean.