Though it is true that the late night dining mob is always searching for the latest in farm to table élan, it is rare that the target for their adoration is a modest store front known for its tur-duk-en. In these last few months, Moreau’s Bistro and Food Lab is honored with lines going down the block for one of its 15 tables. Located in the meat packing district, closer to where the transvestite prostitutes roam in free-range style than the classy new theaters and night clubs that have established outposts in this hostile no-man’s land.
Moreau’s offers brutish service and little in the realm of ambiance. The tables are unmatched and uneven. The only lighting comes from 40 watt bulbs playing metronome to an air current cantata. It’s a given that the late night crowd adheres to a diet of poor service and that is found here. But usually, that abhorrent service is handsome or hip or at least tragically jejune, all while smelling of expensive perfume and garlic. Here, the wait staff has the eau du monkey house. They are a hairy and unpleasant lot. They knock over more plates than they place in front of diners.
During one of my visits I off-handedly asked what experiments are being done in this food lab. The waiter became ashen and shouted, “Lab? How you know lab? This no lab. No bad things done here. We cook food. We do right. No hurt.” After a moment I pointed to the menu where the words Food Lab were written. The waiter looked confused, as if he could not read. He then fled to fulfill our order.
And how that order was filled. Usually, Tur-duk-en is not a goal but a punishment one has to endure. The different flavors and textures attack each other, all striving for higher ground, and in truth, no one survives the melee, not even your taste buds or self-respect.
But at Moreau’s, that is certainly not the case. While the typical tur-duk-en is an attempt at to perform Mozart with a banjo, wash board and kazoo, here it is an unadulterated aria of sweeping unity. There was a harmony to the meal, as if the dish was one animal and not three. This illusion of one-ness is surprising and delicious.
Moreau’s takes this theme of blended meats as their raison d’être. There is mu-chi-lo, a wonderful combo of mutton, chicken and lobster. There is the crazed master piece entitled bi-oh-ha-la, an ingenious amalgam of bison, ostrich, halibut and lamb. Each bite is unique and correct. If you can forgive the occasional hard bristle of a stray hair, you will be gastronomically puzzled and pleased.
The last time my companion and I were there, on leaving the establishment, we were accosted by one of the many neighborhood tranny hookers, who thrust his/her finger in our faces. He said, “Don’t go there. It’s not right. There are screams coming out when they’re closed. Screams, baby. Like people, like animals, like something passing for something else. And the smell. Don’t you come back sweethearts. Just get out of here and get yourself some Whoppers or Big Macs, something we know what it is. Just split and keep on splitting. I can give you that advice for free.”
My dining companion and I looked at each other and laughed heartily. For if there was a better recommendation for a new cutting edge restaurant, I do not know what it could be.
David Macpherson is a writing living in Central Massachusetts with his wife Heather and son George.
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