15 west 56th street (in the Chambers Hotel)
New York, NY 10019
Heeeee's back. Chef David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar, Ko, Milk Bar) is here with Má Pêche- and a few changes. First change, it's in midtown. Second, it's just serving lunch, for now. Third, Chang is taking on the owner role while delegating out the menu and preparation responsibilities to executive chef Tien Ho. So yes, this is a David Chang project, but no it is not the cramped, elbow to elbow authentic Chang-ian dining experience as you will get in the East Village.
The recently opened restaurant is spacious with long, clean lines. The menu combines traditional Vietnamese and French elements of cooking. However, before the actual restaurant space opened, they were serving previews of the menu on the mezzanine level. But the burger and grilled cheese "preview" options were not much of a peep inside the lunch menu. Instead, dishes like fluke crudo with pineapple chunks and a mixed herb salsa and poached shrimp with kaffir ketchup begin the meal. The pork ribs with lemongrass caramel were part of the preview menu, but seem to have improved over the weeks. Steak frites, the classic French dish, gets a touch of Vietnamese character with rice fries and a dipping sauce consisting of mayonnaise, Sriracha, Worcestershire and a secret addition.
The mezzanine-level is still offering a $10 lunch. Although you can't get it to go, for 10 bucks you pick one of the following choices: two different banh mi sandwiches (chicken or pate/pork/headcheese), calamari salad or bun (in this case rice noodles with pork sausage, greens and crispy shallots). Choose a drink, coke, diet coke or water, as well. While the price tag for a undoubtedly smallish banh mi is a tad high, this is midtown people. A chewy, grey chicken sandwich could run you nearly the same amount at some delis.
Dessert is all mostly all about cookies. And milk. The baked-to-order chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies are thick, slightly chewy and buttery. The other frontrunner? The crack pie with oats and lots of butter. It will give you a sugar high that sends you buzzing back to work.