Matyson is a small and elegant BYOB located in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood serving new American cuisine. I had learned about the weekly tasting menu which showcases fresh local ingredients including a Lobster menu. However, we went on a Friday night where the tasting menu was not an option. The majority of the diners were over 50; although, later in the evening the clientele changed to a younger age bracket.
The manageable one page menu had your standard meat dishes and several appetizers (see menu). We all had high expectations to start, having recently dined at the Farm and Fisherman where everything was perfect. Our meal at Matyson however, was quite anticlimactic.
The appetizers consisted of the Veal Sweetbreads ($12)– a mix of veal, cauliflower, watercress, herbs, sweetbread and a creamy sauce. The Shaved Tuscan Kale ($10) was one of the highlights of the evening. A combination of shredded kale, quinoa, squash, pepitas, parmesan and oregano. It was a good kale salad but nothing extraordinary or original.
I ordered the appetizer special- a lobster cannelloni roll served with squash and barley in a creamy sauce. The dish was a unique twist on a lobster roll and I thoroughly enjoyed it but was not blown away.
Our table also ordered the Rock Octopus ($13)- a combination of potatoes, fennel, soffrito, and za’atar. The octopus was tender and blended well with all the other ingredients.
For the entrees, we ordered the chicken, sea bass, beef cheeks and pork belly. A good range of all the meats in order to really be able to assess the food. Besides the beef cheeks which the Count thoroughly enjoyed, the rest of us were quite disappointed with our dishes (especially for the price per dish).
The Braised Beef Cheeks ($26) came with dutch cabbage, beef tongue pastrami, mushrooms and greens in a thick gravy. The meat was very tender and juicy and the savory sauce made for a perfect combination.
I ordered the Striped Sea Bass ($26) which was presented in 3 pieces in a vertical dish over a poppy seed gnocchi, hedgehog mushrooms, radish and crème fraiche. The bass was fried and extremely dry and fishy.
The best part of the dish was the gnocchi- although even that was nothing special. I was so disappointed by my meal that I could not even finish it (even though I was still very hungry).
The Berkshire Pork Belly ($26) was served with mustard greens, apple, charred scallion and black garlic. Our friend who had ordered the dish was not impressed either. For the price paid and the impeccable service we all expected an outstanding dining experience but instead were left quite underwhelmed.
The Lancaster County Chicken ($24) was served with sour cherries and crunchy farro. The chicken ordered by my dearest friend was the worst dish of the night. We never order chicken at restaurants but after the outstanding experience at Farm and Fisherman (the chicken in hay) we decided that perhaps chicken was the way to go at a fine dining establishment. While it looked beautiful when presented it failed in everything else.
The meat was very dry and flavorless and was definitely not worth the $24. Again, a disappointed diner at our table.
After our meal we really didn’t want to stick around for dessert. But the Count went ahead and ordered the Chocolate S’more ($9). It was a really nice way to end our meal as it was a delicious serving of chocolate cake, graham crackers and hazelnuts- and let’s face it who doesn’t love chocolate?
At the end of our meal, we all decided that the best part of our dining experience was one or two of the appetizers. The Count however, who ordered the beef cheeks and kale salad, really enjoyed his meal and did not see why we were all left so disappointed with the experience. Frankly, our sentiments were that this place is hyped by reviewers on Yelp. There are countless numbers of amazing BYOB restaurants in Philadelphia serving exquisite dishes and Matyson did not measure up to many of them. Perhaps, the tasting menu is another experience- now I’ll never know.