Friday, June 20, 2008

Philadelphia: Matyson

Mood lighting is my worst nightmare. It's soft, creating no shadows and no texture, and it's often yellow, leading to very warm-colored shots. Because the lighting lends to little texture, my poor point-and-shoot (Canon PowerShot SD1000... the best P&S I have ever worked with) isn't able to focus. Poor focus leads to blurry shots.

Why not use a manual focus, you ask? Well... we have a DSLR, but that thing is huge. I'd love to bring it to restaurants, but it's not conspicuous and D. would die of embarrassment.

Anyway, please excuse the poor quality of the pictures. They certainly do not represent the quality of the meal, which was excellent. I'd have to say this was the best BYOB we've tried in Philly so far.

Accompanied by the lovely tempranillo from Justin, we started with the zucchini napoleon (me), the salmon done three ways (J.L.), and a chickpea soup with bacon-rendered oil (D.).

The zucchini napoleon was divine. Finely shredded zucchini was mixed with binders (most likely egg) and fried until lightly crisp. The shreds were still rich and "squash-y", while the fried disc as a whole had a crisp crust. Although the salad, tomato compote, and tortilla strips were meant to give a Mexican twist, the cumin gave it more of an Indian air. All in all, excellent execution.

D.'s soup was lovely, with the bacon oil giving it a nice punch. Can't really go wrong with bacon. J.L.'s lovely salmon appetizer was also very good, with a salmon fritter, smoked salmon, and salmon roe as the "three ways".

Our entrees were delicious. I ordered a dish that was like a deconstructed bouillabaisse. I'm unsure about the type of fish, but it had a thick and fatty skin that crisped up beautifully with a hot sear.

Fresh black mussels (3 shells w/ meat and a handful of shell-less pieces... yay for generous mussel portions!), a deconstructed ratatouille, crusty bread with a garlicky aioli, and the best bouillabaisse broth I've ever had in the States. The only problem was that the broth was more of a sauce than a stew. I could have consumed buckets of the stuff.

Execution was excellent... everything was cooked perfectly. Composition was a little off. I would have removed the overpowering ratatouille, which had peppers and eggplant, both being a little too pungent. Otherwise, a perfect dish. The fish's skin had great depth of flavor and the meat was very moist.

For dessert, we opted for a luscious dark chocolate cake with dulce de leche ice cream, candied walnuts, and caramelized bananas. Wow and wow. The cake was decadent, but fluffy. I've attempted to make dulce de leche ice cream before and I couldn't quite nail down the sweet caramelly flavor. I didn't add enough salt, actually, so the flavor was quite muted. Matyson's version was nice and pungent. Caramelized bananas and candied walnuts were great touches.

J.L. has suggested that our next trip to Philly be a trip of BYOB exploration. I'm in for that!

37 S. 19th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103

9 bites:

Anonymous said...

Funny! I just bought a new "big" camera, but do love how tiny my Powershot is, too. But I'm to chicken to take photos in restaurants period.

caninecologne said...

nice post! i've also enjoyed your NYC posts! we were there last year and had fond memories of the places we visited/ate.

saw your blog from another foodblog (i forget which one)...keep up the great work!

Big Boys Oven said...

thos dishes must be awesome delicious!

Meandering Eats said...

Kellypea- Thanks for dropping by and for hosting the DB challenge this month! I'm still a little chicken about taking pictures in restaurants, but I've gotten used to the occasional stare.

Caninecologne- Thank you! All the best with everything... I really hope that it all goes smoothly for you!

Meandering Eats said...

Big Boys Oven- Yes, they were!

Alice Q. Foodie said...

Hi Marie! I feel your pain on the yellow lighting - using Picasa can help adjust the colors - but when it's really dark, it's pretty difficult. If your camera lets you adjust shutter speed and you can keep the camera still long enough, you can use a higher setting to get more light on the food. My camera also has different settings for different lighting conditions, so you might want to check for a setting like that on your camera (I just discovered mine a couple of months ago!)

Meandering Eats said...

I played with the pictures' contract and color before posting, but that blasted yellow cast from the lights definitely muck with the whole thing. I've been having such a good time with my camera's settings. The longer shutter is definitely useful, but I was so hungry, my hands were shaking! ;)

Anonymous said...

I need to do a BYOB trip to Philly soon too, though this place sounds great.

I heard about a place that does a great steak and broccoli rabe sandwich... I'll have to look up the name. :)

- JL said...

Just went to Matyson again this past weekend. Great again! They had this amazing pureed-avocado soup with crab meat.

9 bites