Ma Peche is the newest soon-to-be-open addition to the Momofuku empire, their first foray into Midtown. Prior to its officially opening in the Chambers Hotel on 56th Street, they started serving a limited lunch menu in the hotel mezzanine lounge. So on our last "pretending to be ladies who lunch" day, petiteseour, another friend, and I decided to check it out and take advantage of the $10 lunch specials before the real restaurant prices hit.
The space was lovely, albeit without real tables and chairs. And by 12:20, the place was already full. After a short wait, we ended up on a loveseat and ottoman eating off of wooden box-cocktail tables.
Being all slightly under the weather, we had to rethink our usual practice of sharing all of our food. We all wanted to try the Hue-style chicken soup, but didn't think we could each eat an entire bowl. The waiter gave us a bit of a hard time about this, but after we explained that we were each going to order a lunch special on top of this, he acquiesced.
This was just the start of an all-around difficult service situation. When the soup did arrive, it came in one bowl (the ingredients in one bowl -pictured left, with broth to be poured on top). We had to re-explain why we couldn't all eat from the same bowl, then had to wait for them to come back with smaller bowls, all while our soup sat and cooled. Then there was also the bottle of water that was never delivered to petiteseour, and other general inattentiveness and forgetfulness.
For our main lunch specials, we tried the rice noodles with pork ragout, greens, and crispy shallots, and the terrine banh mi (both pictured above). The banh mi was terrific - the terrine was flavorful, the bread crusty, and the pickles fresh.
The final nail in the coffin on the service was ordering coffee at the end. They served French press coffee for $7. Faced with the decision of getting $7 coffee or going out in the cold to go somewhere else, we figured, well, we'll split a pot between us. Even though we asked for 1 pot of French press, they came back with 1 double press, and 1 single press. It was more coffee than we could drink, and we were charged $21. The way we saw it, our waiter could have explained the sizes, and suggested that maybe a pot for 2 could be split by the 3 of us.
So hopefully they'll figure out the service in the official restaurant. Our waiter was only saved from being stiffed too badly on tip due to his being quite cute, our friend's sympathy having worked as a waitress herself, our having sat and chatted at lunch for over 2 1/2 hours, and not wanting to be perceived as typically thoughtless "ladies who lunch." We all agreed it ended up being a pleasant lunch, a nice spot for our little girls reunion, but if we had all be coming from jobs to meet up for a Midtown lunch, we would have really gotten pissed.
Mezzanine at the Chambers Hotel
15 West 56th Street, New York NY 10019
(b/n Fifth and Sixth Avenues)