February 8, 2013
In the dead of winter, not much sounds better than a warm fire and some comfort food. Last Friday I decided to check both off the list, so I headed to Hyde Park to review M Wood Fired Oven. The restaurant, which opened in late 2012, is owned and operated by Alex Mchaikhi. If that name sounds familiar it’s because he also owns Cumin located next door. Executive Chef Owen Maass is the culinary artist for both establishments.
Considering the frigid temperatures and our unfortunate placement by the door, a cold beer – though enticing – was not the best drink option for that night. Per our waiter’s suggestion, my friend and I went with two tequila shots to get the blood flowing. It worked.
First up the local greens salad arrived at our table. We especially appreciated the wait and kitchen staff splitting the salad before hand. The creamy balsamic was lightly dressed and thus just the right balance to complement the fresh field greens, dried cherries, feta, and toasted almonds.
Our other three orders came out simultaneously: cauliflower gratin, #5 mushroom pizza, and the meatballs. The cauliflower gratin was amazing. It came with pine nuts, spinach, and brussel sprouts, too. Although I enjoy all said items, for those that find any of the above a little too healthy or weird for their tastes, I’d still highly recommend this side dish.
So what makes a good pizza? I’d say it varies per individual. For me I like a thin, crisp crust and on top I enjoy a heavy assortment of food accessories. M nails the former, but in the latter category, I think there’s definite room for improvement — more cheese, mushrooms and the like. Otherwise it seems more like glorified naan than pizza. I will say the fried egg in the middle made for a nice touch and reminded me of a month I once spent in Paris where that appeared to be a regular thing — egg in eye of the pizza.
The meatballs were the featured beef selection of the night. Again, meatballs – like matzoh balls – are something that everyone has a preference for. While I do prefer smaller meatballs to the two grapefruit sized balls on our plate, they were delicious on top of a piece of sourdough soaked in olive oil. The choice was especially heartwarming amid the cold temps.
In terms of the restaurant decor and atmosphere, I am very much a fan. The bar sits along the back side of the restaurant with the open kitchen and the famed wood fired oven. The walls are a simple wood, giving it a cabin chalet in Northern Italy kind of feel.
The music selection was interesting — in a good way. “Wild Ones,” “We Found Love,” and “One More Time” were some of the Top 40 hits playing. That music offered a strange but intriguing dichotomy. The desire to dance slightly curbed my desire to eat, but mostly the music just put a smile on my face.
Overall, I’d recommend a visit to M and am already looking forward to my return trip. There are still many items left on the menu I did not get to taste i.e. the half roasted chicken, house olives, and the #2 pizza.to top ↑