“Mà” means “hand” in Catalan. The quest for finding the right name started from the word “hand-hands” and its forms in different languages of the world. And there it was, the most simple and poetical shape. Why “hand”? Because everything at Mà is somehow hand-related, from the crafted wood pieces or the walls, to the food itself. Later on, we found out that “mà” means also “us” in Persian. And everything at Mà is us-related.
What’s your mission / philosophy?
Our mission is humble and basic: to create a small community around a small place that, more than a bistro, is a living room with a friendly open kitchen operated by a team of young cooks. We do not have colossal goals, never dreamt of changing the world (maybe a few nights), our aim is not to revolutionise things around here, even though, sometimes, avoiding innovation could be a form of innovation in itself. Although we use top-notch ingredients – from the visible to the subtle ones, such as the cooking wine, and we have all the respect for seasons and “terroir”, for anything that comes from small enterprises and hand-work, we feel that these values should be so natural and tacit, that by stating this with constant repetition their very character of “it should be like this, not otherwise” gets diluted.
Businesses often meet certain personal needs of their owners. Mà is not a business, but it does meet our needs. We wanted a place like those we had been searching and waited for, an imperfect, warm, familiar and homely place, whose purpose is none other than to nourish both the body and the spirit.
Who’s behind Mà bistro?
Who is behind is of less importance. What’s important is that this place is built up by a team of young people with a good mindset, dreamers, enamoured of everything beauty. But to discreetly answer this question, we divide our time between the unconventional dining club that is WeDine, the private events design studio and now, this little pearl that is Mà.
What makes it different from the other bistros in town?
It would be a lack of fellowship to think of what we have and others don’t or what others do that we avoid doing. A famous Romanian furniture brand had a very inspired ad line going like “Fortunately, we are all different.” That’s about right!
Oh, I actually know the answer. What makes it different and particular is that it is undoubtedly the smallest bistro in the city.
What type of food is on your menu? Is it a seasonal menu?
We change the menu every two weeks. It is a small menu, touched by spontaneous culinary exercises. The cooks – three at number – have all the freedom to create and treat the kitchen as their playground. There are neither “food type” directions, nor restrictions. This week you can have a crispy lasagna that a Neapolitan praised to be better than his grandmother’s, and next week you can enjoy a very fine sushi with home-made soy sauce or a boeuf bourguignon cooked in Julia Child’s dreams. For breakfast, you can choose the week’s fat yogurt granola or a decadent corn crust omelette with chorizo and old cheddar. We buy our bread from the neighbourhood’s French boulangerie, the coffee comes from the coffee shop next door, we listen to jazz most of the time, open up early for morning rituals and close early for evening rituals. People have asked why do we close at 8PM … We close at 8 because Mà is the place where you stop for an early dinner on your way home, where your books and blanket await you. You know, when you walk down the streets of Paris around 6 in the evening and see the sidewalks full of people who have finished their job and stop in bistros for a glass of wine and a snack, carrying baguettes in their bags. Or people that hook up with friends for a “quick check” over a gin & tonic and a bite after office hours, before returning home… This is our evening mood.
What is your clients’ profile?
It is too soon to collect all the information and sketch a targeted profile, but we assume, if they choose to stop by, they are the type for whom the place itself, the service, the music, the lights or the oil painting on the cupboard are as important as it is the food. So far, we have offered all clients blank notes to jot down their feedback. 90% of them pointed out the atmosphere and ambience, besides food.
What is the pièce de résistance of the space?
It’s so hard to name something in particular. Laura Paraschiv, our architect, created an interior concept built around objects. From the tables made of old wardrobe doors, to the 40 custom-made lamps, or the feminine painting in the kitchen – that stainless steel “battlefield” of the boys, every corner, every inch of wall, every detail becomes a small piece of a “whole de résistance“.
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Photo © Andrei Vintilă