If you grafted a French brasserie on to an American neighborhood restaurant you’d produce Matyson (37 South 19th Street). Pronounced Madison, it’s a charming little eaterie in downtown Philadelphia. The mood is French, and the tables are numerous and tightly packed. Sure you’ll share your conversation with the couple seated next to you, but you’ll also get to gawk at what they ordered before you commit.
The menu is American with a twist. We started with the gazpacho. It was smooth, brightly colored and had a strong cucumber flavor. Our second course was the fried pig’s tail appetizer. This was the dish that caught my eye on the restaurant’s website, and I have to admit I expected curly tails to be laid before me. What I got looked more like short ribs and tasted like a cross between pork belly and crispy fried chicken. Yum. Next came a coffee rubbed duck breast on a bed of brown butter spaetzel and rainbow chard. It was cooked to perfection, just pink in the middle. I hadn’t meant to eat the whole thing, but just couldn’t stop myself. It was that good. Didn’t get a chance to try dessert, too full. But it’s on my list for a return visit the next time I’m in town.
p.s. The restaurant is BYOB, a thing in Philly, so be sure to tuck your best bottle under your arm. There’s no corkage fee.