When we heard that the famous French Dijon mustard brand Maille had opened a mustard boutique on Columbus Avenue a couple of weeks ago, we though it was in interesting marketing idea for a pop-up, but wondered whether or not it was a sustainable long-term concept to devote prime real retail estate to selling a single condiment, especially one that is available in most supermarkets for around $4 a jar.
Well, It turns out that customers had no such misgivings. They saw the store, said, "Yum! Mustard!" and started buying.
We stopped in a few days after it opened and saw an elegant little shop with shelves filled with all sorts of flavored mustards in single jars and packaged into pricey gift sets along with an assortment of olive oils and vinegars —so really, more than just one condiment, the shop does offer all of the ingredients for a very expensive vinaigrette. With a tasting bar, all sorts of mustard accessories and refills on tap, the store is patterned more after a perfumery than any kind of food store. And customers are literally eating it up.
We stopped into the shop yesterday, and noticed a distinct sparseness on the shelves compared to just a week or so earlier. Many of the gift sets were completely sold out even at $40 to $60 for three or four half-sized 3.8 oz. jars, but where else are you going to find yummy flavors like bleu cheese, morel mushrooms or walnuts and white wine to name a few. Sound weird? They are not. They are indeed yummy and tempting, especially the black truffle mustard on tap, but, as one learns over time, sometimes what looks tasty on the gourmet counter gathers dust once it makes it into one's own kitchen. Or maybe it's just overkill for a turkey sandwich.
So, after visiting the mustard store, The Shophound walked a block across town to pick up some bananas at Trader Joe's and discovered a delightful new item, the "Mustard Miscellany" package of four 7 oz. jars of Dijon mustard —imported from France— featuring intriguing flavors like black currant, chablis, Provençal, and basil for a mere $6.99. No, there wasn't any bleu cheese or black truffle, and possibly our palate is not so refined as to be able to discern the difference between fancy French mustard and somewhat less fancy French mustard, but, you know, $6.99.
In a pinch, it'll do pretty damn well.
Maille New York 185 Columbus Avenue at 68th Street, Upper West Side