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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Matyson's Tasting Menus

Mondays through Thursdays, Matyson offers tasting menus that are some of the best dinner experiences in Philly: not only are they consistently interesting thematic constructions, they're also an amazing deal. $45 plus tax and tip gets you five generous courses, usually including pretty luxe ingredients. The menu changes every week, updated here>>.

This week's menu featured Duck:

Rilletes with a Trio of Garnishes
Apricot marmalade, crumbled blue cheese, & cornichons

Foie Gras Ravioli & Truffles
Black trumpet mushrooms, parmesan foam

Crispy duck confit, andouille sausage

Duck L'Orange
Potato puree, haricot vert, almonds

Chocolate Toffee Cake
Vanilla ice cream

The rilletes left me a little cold, the texture was pasty, the flavor vague, you might have been able to convince me it was hummus if I wasn't paying too close attention... That said, it's wasn't bad just a bit blah, even with the good accompaniments. But that was the only part of the meal that wasn't excellent. The foie gras ravioli was delicious, a slightly crispy wrapper containing luxurious chunks of foie. The cassoulet was not the classic casserole dish, everything slow-cooked together, but somehow the flavors were so vivid and unified, it tasted as if it had been. The duck confit might just have been the best we've had in town: crispy yet moist, tender and not too salty. The duck breast was in danger of being overwhelmed by the preceding courses, but it held its own, offering perfectly tender meat under a light but vibrant citrusy sauce. Dessert looked conventional, but was mysteriously addictive, the toffee crumbles adding a compelling twist to the intensely chocolate cake.

We've been so charmed by the tasting menus here that we almost forget that there's a solid a la carte line-up here too. The restaurant allows a party to mix the ordering, the whole table doesn't have to choose the tasting menu as some places require, so if some of your group don't feel like five courses, they can just get a couple of items from the interesting standard menu.

Founders and chefs Matt and Sonjia Spector departed late last year, turning the restaurant over to folks who had been working side-by-side with them for a long time, so the transition has been seamless. There have even been some suggestions that the change has provided a spark of energy, perhaps the kitchen feels like they've got something to prove. Whatever the reasons, they are putting out some great food. The tasting menus are a strong draw, but the regular menu is compelling enough on its own.

37 S. 19th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 564-2925

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