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Matyson (LaBan, etc.)


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This week's tasting menu is “BBQ a la Matyson”:


Watermelon Salad

Feta, pickled red onion & jalapeno, ice wine, mint & opal basil

Crispy Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Avocado mousse, grilled corn salsa, Georgia peach glaze

Grilled Diver Scallop

Banana mash, grilled porcini mushrooms, fig vinegar

Barbequed Duck Breast

Baked beans, molasses, coffee, jicama-mango-orange slaw

Berry Cobbler

Vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce


Could anyone suggest some wine to pair with these dishes? Mr. Pawlak, I hear that you're a beer expert; is there any beer that you think might go well with some of this food? Is it looked down upon to bring beer to a restaurant of this caliber?

We're going tonight, and I've been bustin' my noggin trying to pair this stuff up. I thought about Zinfandel, which I've successfully poured with barbecue, but I suspect that this isn't going to be sauce-slathered molasses-soaked stuff. I think a good rose might get you a fair distance here, as would a very fruity white with good acidity, like a Riesling or sauvignon blanc,

I'm also contemplating a Loire red I have with very low tannin but high acid...

I think that I see a pattern here: go with fruity, pleasant wines with strong fruit and low tannin. I would stay away from the noble grapes - no Cabernet, no syrah, likewise no chardonnay. Possibly a California pinot noir, I've had a few that met that description. Some of the more casual chiantis would be good, I think.

The other problem, of course, is what order to pour in, if you have several wines: the scallops sandwiched between the ribs and the duck are going to be a challenge.

And of course there is the perfect beer: Anchor Steam. A more versatile beverage I know not.

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I've been bustin' my noggin trying to pair this stuff up

Dude, the watermelon salad has Icewine in it, and I happen to know you're awash in Icewine, why not try one of those!

I think you're right about a fruity west-coast Pinot Noir with the ribs and/or the duck.

Scallops, I think you're right with the acidic white, especially with the banana mash.

And indeed, the transition from ribs to scallops back to duck is going to be weird. I'd ask them if they could go scallops - duck - ribs. Or at least scallops - ribs - duck. It never hurts to ask...

Please let us know what works!

And BTW, there's nothing wrong with bringing beer, I've been at an entire meal paired with beers. And if not at a barbecue dinner, when?

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz


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I think you're right about a fruity west-coast Pinot Noir with the ribs and/or the duck.

I'm sure I'm too late, but in a similar vein, a nice Dolcetto or a St. Joseph would work here too...

Low alcohol and low tannins would pair well with barbeque flavors and not set your mouth ablaze in case there were any spicy flavors or any type of chile or pepper in the sauces.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Good beer is as appropriate in a good restaurant as is good wine. It's all in the pairing.

For this menu I would suggest two kinds of beers: Yards Saison or Flying Fish Farmhouse, both summery farmhouse ales, with the watermelon and scallop dishes; the light citrus notes and bright mouthfeel will pair nicely with these two courses (yeah, I'd reverse the order of the dishes too). For the ribs and duck I would bring eithr Yards Brawler, a low-alcohol session beer with tons of roasty flavor and a smooth finish; or Sierra Nevada ESB, an early spring beer (not Extra Special Bitter) with just enough hops bitterness to balance the browning of the ribs and richness of the duck, and just enough malt sweetness to dance with the dishes too; a very balanced beer. Enjoy!

Edited by Rich Pawlak (log)

Rich Pawlak


Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large


"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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  • 2 months later...

During the doldrums of summer, Matyson perked me up when I spied this week's tasting menu: "Lobster Love" through Thursday:


Mango mustard, avocado, coconut foam


Shell beans, tiny heirloom tomatoes, chervil


Mexican style grilled corn, salsa verde, peach BBQ

Butter Poached

Seared foie gras, crispy polenta, fresh fig & red wine reduction

Apple-Walnut Gallette

Vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce

$45 Prix Fixe (does not include tax, beverage, or gratuity)

I discovered the menu when She Who Must Be Obeyed and I stopped by lunch. She devoured the flat iron steak with parmesan-truffle frites and a side of spinach. I started with the summer veggie soup: a broth of cherry tomato juice, with crisp-tender shell beans (looked like small limas), corn, chard and assorted other summer veggies with thin shavings of parmesan on top. It was delicately herbed so as not to overwhelm the vegetal flavors. Then I went with the sandwich special, ss crab on brioche bun . . . yum.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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  • 3 months later...

After quite a while, we went back and finally had one of their tasting menus:

“Game Menu!"”

Venison Crostini

Chestnut butter, balsamic cherries, juniper

Wild Boar Puntanesca

Potato gnocchi, black olives, parmesan, fried capers

Bacon Wrapped Rabbit

Toasted barley, wild mushrooms, fig compote, sherry gastrique

Half Roasted Quail

Vanilla-parsnip puree, haricot vert, cinnamon quail jus

Almond Crepes

Blood orange sauce, vanilla ice cream

I could quibble as I usually do about the microgreens with the crostini needing a little more acidity and a little more ... watercress flavour or about the gnocchi being great but still a little too firm. Instead I'll simply make one very simple statement: best 'new american' meal of Q4 2009. As usual, the pairings were the strongest point and they all simply worked. It appears that the changes in staff simply improve this place. Oh and: the price for the tasting hasn't changed since they started. That in and of itself is perhaps even more remarkable than the food.

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We just totally missed the Game Menu due to various other commitments, and your description makes me very jealous.

We had a tasting menu at Matyson several weeks ago that was a tad disappointing by Matyson standards (but would have been impressive for $45 at any other BYO in Philly), but that was the only blip in a string of many, many tasting menus we've had there in the past several years that have been varying degrees of excellent. IMHO, at its best the food here is simply in a different league from that of any other restaurant in Philly in a similar genre.

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Went tonight for the shellfish tasting menu.


Lobster "Cappuccino"

Lobster fritter, vanilla-bourbon foam

Florida Stone Crab Claws

Smoked paprika aioli, potato gaufrettes

Butter Poached Virginia Oyster

Creamy tarragon risotto, bacon-red onion marmalade

Scallop "Sandwich"

Braised veal cheek, celery root puree, truffled veal jus

Key Lime & White Chocolate Semifreddo

Blood oranges, raspberry sauce

First things first: both the stone crab claws and the dessert were 86ed. Bummer.

The stone crab claws were replaced by a crab, avocado, and mango salad with fried lotus root chips, wasabi aioli, and (I believe) sweetened tamari.

The first course was stellar. The fritter (while not having a pronounced lobster flavor) was a nice foil to the soup. Crisp, well-seasoned (subtle fennel notes) and hot. The broth was rich, it was nuanced, it was warm and comforting and everything I look for in an opening course on a chill night. Aces.

The salad was pleasant. I appreciated the lotus root chips for texture, although they were way too salty on their own. Obviously meant for contextual eating. The wasabi brightened everything else up nicely, and the soy drizzle around the salad provided a nice bit of sweetness to match with the crab. I don't think the mango played a role at all, really, but other than a bit of crab shell finding its way in, I had little to poke at.

I really liked the idea of the oyster/risotto plate but was left wanting (I think) acid and a different plating. The bacon marmalade overpowered the oyster, but perfectly complimented the risotto. Once I flipped things over a bit (playing with my food is always fun) I was happier with the dish, but the initial bite was all smoke and starch. Not in a bad way, mind you, my plate was quickly cleaned afterwards. The acid would've helped imitate a bit of the briny bite I like in my oysters.

The scallop was cooked perfectly. The veal cheek was rich and melty and comforting. The celery puree was a little sweet, but a nice contrast to the meaty richness of everything else. I do think that the textures matched too well. From top to bottom it was soft, softer, soft, softest. The truffle jus played up my nose a lot more than my tongue (which I appreciate) so it was the least of my concerns. The whole plate lacked texture for me, although all the individual components were delicious. People at the table used the comparison of baby food. Others said shephard's pie. Either way, I could've used some crunch.

The dessert being gone was replaced (for me) with a coconut cream pie, which was subtle and fancier than the diner fare I've loved all my life, and was quite a nice way to top off the meal.

All in all, it was delicious and fun and a great bargain. I had some problems with the pacing of the meal (and according to our server, so did the kitchen) and some minor complaints as seen above, but I'm excited to head back again.

On the service - top notch. Really attentive and friendly and savvy enough to know that I got no problems with poaching leftover wine from vacated tables.

They'll be seeing more of me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

These week's tasting menu is fantastic. In particular, it's not often that you see sturgeon on a menu. They had it as a special recently when we were ordering off the menu (there was no tasting that week), and it was great then too.

“Luxury for the New Year!"”

Lobster Bisque

Vanilla crème fraiche, aged bourbon

Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Corn muffin, persimmon coulis

Lightly Smoked Wild Columbia River Sturgeon

Potato latke, wilted watercress, hackleback caviar sauce

Pan Roasted Australian Rack of Lamb

Truffled sunchoke puree, hen of the woods, mushroom demi glace

Champagne Sorbet

Lemon bar, raspberries

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  • 1 year later...

Disappointing lunch at Matyson yesterday. Some of the dishes were up to their standards, including a really terrific smoked trout sandwich. But there were a couple of missteps: oversalted calamari and a steak salad that included inedible (and a little dirty!) lettuce stems. Maybe it's August and the staff's mind is on the shore?

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