Masq Restaurant & Lounge
306 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
Reviewed & Photographed by Jennifer Baker
Food & Service:
New Orleans is about flavors that systematically appear. Few restaurants capture the balance and true essence of New Orleans cuisine as well as the owners of Masq restaurant on Midtown’s eastside. New Orleans inspired dishes aren’t the only items on Masq’s lunch and dinner menus worth trying. There are also Italian influences such as a Chicken Parmesan Po’Boy and Sabayon, in addition to Quesadillas and Edamame with sea salt.
Masq gets its name from “masquerade”, a lasting symbol of the NOLA scene during Mardi Gras. Evening brings dimmer lighting encouraging a more romantic atmosphere, while the trim of orange and pink lights accent the outline of the ceiling and the many masks and paintings of darker hues decorating the walls, instilling a relaxing, festive vibe.
While spicy heat is often attributed to Cajun dishes, it shouldn’t be the sole proponent for its taste. And this, Chef Getzelman notes, is often the wrong assumption about NOLA flavors. “A layered process in eating along with a layered process in cooking” reflects Getzelman’s goal in developing Masq’s menu with co-owners George and Nora Chaprastian. It’s not the simple “put some cayenne on it and its Cajun” method that may seem enigmatic of this style of food. On Masq’s menu, every choice has flavors that work off one another but are not overwhelming, allowing each dish to stand and thrive on its own culinary merit.
Mac n’ Cheese Croquettes with bacon and jalapeno are a “happy accident.” Leftovers brought about Getzelman’s idea to add this item as a starter. Even happier is the richness of the roux and cheese inside and the perfect crackle of these panko crusted appetizers when piercing the crispy exterior with your knife. The mac n’ cheese does not ooze out of this small fried ball by design, and the noodles inside are perfectly al dente. The bacon is smoky and the jalapeno tame, but with the aid of spicy remoulade the kick is there at once.
The Prosciutto Fig Flatbread exemplifies the “layering” Getzelman aims for with its oaky taste, and is made onsite. The sweetness of the figs, saltiness of the prosciutto, along with the smooth satisfying goat cheese and spice of the arugula creates a truly decadent “pizza”.
The Shrimp Po’ Boy is another standout thanks mainly to the mixture of spices in the breadcrumbs. The coleslaw that accompanies the po’boy will make a believer out of anyone. There’s a sweet crispness to it that goes beyond typical coleslaw. This comes through with not just the addition of fennel along with the cabbage and carrots, but the fact that this is a side dish and always made to order. Not allowing the vinegars and mayonnaise to get “too friendly” again exhibits flawlessly the multi-tiered tastes Getzelman strives for and achieves.
In terms of spice and heat, the Jambalaya has just the right balance. The array of proteins, including spiced chicken, Andouille sausage and fresh shrimp have varying tender textures, while the heat of the rice mixed with peppers is calmed with a few spoons full of goat cheese. The creamy cheese adds a velvety flavor to the dish that once again creates the flavor layers Getzelman seeks.
The Sabayon, a classic frothy cream served with fresh blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries (as well as freshly made whipped cream) is the perfect capper to tone down the cayenne, black pepper, green peppers, and jalapenos of your previous savory courses, while still being a lighter fare that won’t leave you feeling stuffed. It’s considered a fine palate cleanser, and rightfully so.
Masq is a restaurant and lounge, but expect much more than “bar food” and cayenne-infused dishes. Anticipate the thoughtfulness of a menu that pairs textures and flavors so skillfully that guests get to experience NOLA from the center of Manhattan. Take a look at the wine list too! There are plenty of choices to pair with the excellent food served here at Masq Restaurant and Lounge.
Make sure to stop by Masq during Mardi Gras from February 15th to March 4th when NOLA staples like Etouffee and Gumbo will be offered regularly.
A native New Yorker, Jennifer Baker has been writing since she entered the academic institution and continues to do so every moment she gets. Jennifer has a particular love for desserts (both eating and baking them) and while partaking in some of the sugary treats NYC has to offer, she has interviewed local bakeries such as Ivy Bakery, First Prize Pies, Hot Blondies, and Zugar Haus. Jennifer regularly posts about writing, books, baking, and food events in addition to reviews and hosting giveaways on her website: jennifernbaker.com. You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter at @jbakernyc and check out her site at www.jennifernbaker.com