after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Matyson

my road not taken …

with 3 comments

t says:  A long time ago, when I was a wee lad, I tried to use this Robert Frost poem for a school-related speech.


But little did I realize that “The Road Not Taken” was not at all about the righteous choosing of a road less traveled, rather, an anticipation of remorse when choosing from two equally attractive roads.  What does this have to do with a food blog?

This might be my road not taken:

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 2.32.47 AM

I’ve seen my fair share of Matyson’s menus show up on Foobooz or in my inbox.  This one is perhaps the most delicious-sounding one I have ever seen, with not a single item that doesn’t make my mouth water – right down to the deconstructed KandyKake at the end!  But ultimately, I couldn’t justify a weekday $45 splurge (not including tax, gratuity, or the wine I’d bring), and it was torrentially raining outside.  Thus, I opted to stay indoors and whip up a full-on homemade meal – which turned out great!  But now, after several hours have passed, as my shiftwork insomnia sets in and I’m left to sit and stare at Matyson’s menu I cannot help but wonder if perhaps I should have chosen the other road?

I guess we’ll never know …

(well … unless you go tomorrow – then you can tell me how awesome it was!)

P.S. Dear Matyson … if you could just offer this menu on a weekend, I’d be extraordinarily grateful.  I’d gladly share some wine with you!


t says:  it turns out that a loyal adsz reader went to Matyson to check out the menu.  Here is the official report, copied from the comments attached to this post, and the photos from foobooz’s website!

rch says:  Verdict: It was really delicious, one of the best I’ve had at Matyson. Standout was the roast pork. I could have eaten 3 more of those. Oyster was nice, really refreshing with the blood orange and cilantro. Pretzel was a little odd, actually – super delicious, but it didn’t really call back “pretzel” at all – more just Philly Italian food. The wagyu beef with gougere was tender and awesome, though I would have liked more onion flavor. But that’s just nitpicking; it was delicious. Dessert was good too, but we seriously considered asking for a second helping of roast pork instead of dessert, and I’m still sort of sorry we didn’t! Wish you could have been there with us – fingers crossed they’ll add a couple of these to the regular menu…

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Credit: foobooz

Written by afterdinnersneeze

1 May 2014 at 12:40am

Matyson gets some new visitors.

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t says:  g was super-excited by an updated Matyson menu – but we hesitated in making a reservation … a and v did not … neither did kp.  It was good though, because now we know whether or not we should go – here’s what they have to say about their [separate] visits.

kp says:  I had the Pork Belly with Kimchi which was not okay. The pork belly itself was described as having some spice (gochujang); however, it really had no flavor and no definetly no heat. The cucumber kimchi was not kimchi at all – no sour or heat, just a cucumber that may have been semi pickled – and not even crispy. The cilantro was some kind of micro kind that again had no flavor. The only saving quality was the pork belly itself was crisped up nicely.

Now the entree was much better!  Crispy Skin Red Drum Fish with black eye peas in a mild coconut curry.  The skin of the fish was expertly crisped to perfection (almost as delicious as chicken skin).  The meat itself was perfectly cooked through with delicate flaking. The black eyed peas (especially for a Southerner) was cooked to “just done-ness” (not mushy) with adequate flavors of hints of curry and coconut. The collard greens were not bitter whatsoever but could have used some kind of meat flavoring (bacon preferably).

I ordered the Coconut Cream Pie which was a heavenly dream. The filling itself was delicately fluffed and had crisped brown coconut that accented the creamy coconut. The macadameian crust was perfection with a beautiful full nutty flavor. The accompanying caramel was a nice sweet finish to each bite.

a says:  Very good though v and I were not blown away. Many good flavors, all proteins/fish were well prepared, and they took some risks. However, the risks didn’t always pay off and we felt some dishes lacked harmony as did the courses of the tasting menu. Some flavors were from southeast Asia, some from the Caribbean, and some the near east – all quite good but not always coming together perfectly. I’m also pretty sure most would find the portions small. The tasting menu is a good way to taste multiple dishes and the whole table doesn’t have to order it.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

5 October 2011 at 4:25pm

James Delivers Good for the Price of Great

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t says: We’ve gone to James twice, courtesy of two groupons – and a and v went once, too!  So here’s the lowdown of the restaurant that somehow went from top 10 to being left out of the top 50 according to Philly mag.  But of course, let us tantalize you with a poorly-shot iPhone photo … and you can guess if I liked it or not …

It has chocolate and bacon and chiles … was it awesome?  Find out soon …

t’s Props:  The food was good overall – nothing made us regret having tastebuds – so we were happy about that.  Our favorites, which we’d reorder again were both pasta dishes.  The first was the pappardelle with duck ragu with orange and chocolate – it was so good that we ordered it both times we went!  And the risotto alla kristina (risotto made with prosecco and barely-warmed-through oysters) was also delicious!  Both of these had nicely cooked pasta and beautifully harmonious flavors (seriously, that risotto dish with the oysters was surprisingly oyster-y … in a fresh-tasting, good way).  I also enjoyed the venison dish (g doesn’t do venison) which, too, was impeccably cooked and worked so well with the bitter chocolate – I only wish they gave me more meat because it was rather tiny (so a normal-sized person might have found it microscopic).  As for atmosphere – it’s a nice and large space – quite a departure for a South-of-South eatery.  The chairs were plush (g seemed a little obsessed over how comfortable the chairs were) and there was substantial spacing between tables (although I felt like g and I were SO far apart because the table was so big!).  This place is great for claustrophobics who are tired of the cramped BYO scene.  The service was also top-notch – some of the best we’ve seen in the city.

t’s Slops:  Venus’s jewel case (a spinach fettucine with bacon in a puffed pastry shell) was a good idea, but kind of a failure – it ended up being a mushy spinach fettucini in a congealed creamy sauce (the bacon was only noticeable if you happened to get a piece).  g’s lobster dish was rather unremarkable … which was remarkable because it had lobster in it!  The bacon budino dessert (pictured above) was good in concept (bacon brittle, chocolate budino, paprika ice cream, chile jam), but the balance of flavors was off – please turn down the paprika and turn up the bacon (stick it in the ice cream!).  Also, in my opinion, the chocolate budino was not a budino (unless I am mistaken about what a budino is, but google suggests I am not).  Had the budino been as awesome as I imagined, the title of this post would have been “James’s Barbuzzo Budino Killer”.

t’s Verdict:  I’m  sure there will be times when I think back and fondly remember those two pasta dishes.  But without a strong supporting cast of other dishes, I’m afraid that walking to Melograno or Mercato or Barbuzzo or Amis for pasta is just far easier than cabbing to James.  Furthermore, tack on the price of alcohol and the lack of more groupons, and now I’m pretty sure that the deliciosity-price quotient (DPQ) is just too low for a return visit, landing it in the same category as Matyson (good-tasting Contemporary American, but just not enough food!). 

a says: We agree with almost everything said by t and our experience was much the same (n.b. Thank you Groupon). We were excited to hit James due to its past accolades and positive reviews online. We knew it was pricey for South Philly and not-byo but that’s no reason not to show some love.

a’s Hollas: We were seated immediately in a space much more open than any CC byo which is appreciated. Our server was polite, attentive, and happy to make recommendations when asked. The IPA and wines by the glass were decent. We split our first course, James’ rif on choucroute garnie, which was ambitious and delicious. My 2nd course, pappardelle wih duck ragu, was full of flavor and a high-point of the meal. My entrée course was a tender and juicy veal loin, cooked to perfection and appropriately sized. We went with the apple pie for dessert which was intricately plated but tough to properly eat.

a’s Boos: The music seemed a tad too loud for the ambiance and there was too much time between courses considering the restaurant was at 75% capacity. I found the wine list limited, lacking many deals or bottles in my “$35-$65 sweet spot” for this level of restaurant. The choucroute was was not substantial, even for an appetizer and v thought her risotto alla Kristina (risotto with oysters) was good, not great. (v said, “Too strong a sea flavor.”) v’s fish entrée was again too small and nothing to write home about.

a’s Verdict:  I’d be happy to return to James to give it another shot, if someone else wants to pay or we’re in need of a respite from the cramped byos of CC. We also noted the lovely private table for large groups which sits in a beautiful room away from the main dining room.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

28 February 2011 at 11:04pm

Meritage: Solid Food for the Price

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t says: My dad and I took a “Sushi Basics” class at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.  It was a ton of fun!  What was particularly interesting was that our instructor, Chef Anne Coll, was obviously not Japanese – not Asian at all (from what I could tell).  That said, she wowed us with her extensive knowledge of and experience with preparing Asian foods – she used to be at Susanna Foo in its hay-day).  She was very pleasant and an excellent teacher, explaining to us the finer points of making sushi rice (super-important), slicing fish, and cutting cucumbers.  We thanked her for a great time and bid her farewell.

Fast forward several months.  g and I found out that Meritage (a restaurant which co-workers of mine bashed as “the worst restaurant in Rittenhouse”) was getting a new chef: Chef Coll!  g and I were super-enthused, so we added it to our list of restaurants to visit (we wanted to wait until after it had been open for a bit to work out its “opening pains”).  But of course, by the time we wanted to go, LaBan had given them 3 bells.  For those unfamiliar with LaBan, 3 bells is quite a good score, especially given the price point of this restaurant – no entree was over $21 (at the time – I spotted a $23 entree on their website recently)!  So, while every restaurant in the city that gets 3 bells (or more) becomes instantly booked for the ensuing 2 months, Meritage was super-booked!  Fortunately, we managed to go twice, once in November (on a weekday) and once in December (during the first snowstorm that gave us >20″ of snow).

12/2009, Tuesday Dinner, Party of 3.  Service was top-notch throughout the entire meal – our waiter was both friendly and informative about the dishes that were offered and his “favorites”.  We opted for the dumpling appetizer and found that while they tasted good, they were not revolutionary – g and I have made better dumplings, ourselves.

Our friend went for the tuna tartare and the pork cheek.  Having spent some time in Japan, I half-expected him to be very critical of the tartare, but he actually seemed very happy with the dish.  The pork cheek blew him away – it was tasty and so tender that exclaimed, “well, guess I don’t need this!” as he put down his knife and used just his fork.  I went for the “duo of pork” which featured a tea-smoked tenderloin and pork belly.  The tea flavor was very subtle in the tenderloin, which was well-cooked.  Having had Cochon’s tenderloin, with its rich, deep flavor, I felt a little let down – but don’t get me wrong – it was still a very nice slab of meat.  Fortunately, I felt that the pork belly was on another world, a definite high note in the meal – it was flavorful, cooked superbly, and made me want to go home and cook it myself (I have, and it wasn’t very good – I’ll get it eventually).

g had a good-but-not-mind-blowing hanger steak with chickpea “fries”.  Personally, I loved the chickpea fries – I felt they were novel (although perhaps borderline gimicky) and tasted great with my pork.  g liked them, but only ever admitted they were “good”.

The desserts were solid dishes, too, as I remember eating them all, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember exactly what we had.  I want to say that we had the chocolate bombe, some sort of pot-de-creme, and some sort of apple fruit tart.  It was a pleasant finish to a very solid meal.

12/2009, Saturday Dinner, Party of 3.  Meritage was so good (and reasonably priced) the first time that we planned a second visit with our other friend.  To start, we sampled the BBQ pork sliders as our appetizer – the meat, bread, and sauce made for a delightful sandwich which was NOT too sweet (I dislike super-sweet BBQ sauce).  That said, our friend, who’s from Alabama, reminded us that it wasn’t the most “authentic” BBQ ever (nevertheless, he said he’d eat it again).

g went for the chicken and I had the Jersey monkfish.  Both were superbly cooked.  g’s chicken was great (and we’ve tasted a lot of bland chicken in our time).  g felt that my dish was a little too salty, so perhaps the sauce contained too much ?soy sauce? – but I liked it a lot (I preferred mine to hers, and she preferred hers to mine).  Our friend, at our recommendation, went for the pork cheeks, which were once again dynamite (I think he’s started searching for pork cheeks in markets to try and cook them at home).  However, his lamb chops, judging by his reaction were satisfactory but unremarkable (at least there were no complaints).  Sadly, we were all too stuffed for dessert.

All in all Meritage provided for us two solid meals.  The portions were a nice size for the price, especially because within walking distance from our apartment, there really aren’t a whole lot of New American restaurants that fit this bill (e.g. Audrey Claire, which has yet to impress us and Matyson, which, while tasty, gives far too little food for the dollar).  No dish we had was “bad”, and the few pork highlights were absolutely inspiring.  I especially appreciate some of the creativity in Chef Coll’s dishes and I feel that, over time, Meritage could be huge!

What keeps us from going back?  Well, Meritage is NOT a BYOB.  That said, their wine list is less expensive than it used to be, with wines by the glass coming in at $8 each.  Nevertheless, for $16, g and I could have had a whole bottle of wine at a BYOB, not just two glasses.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 February 2010 at 1:43pm