Trying to remember Philly before craft cocktails is like trying to remember life before cell phones. It’s nearly impossible. So now that every neighborhood beer-and-shot watering hole has French aperitifs, bartenders are upping the ante. Here, four new-to-market drinks that could double as works of art.
Upstairs, in the second-floor lounge at Maison 208, everything is a disaster. Beautiful, sure. With the retractable roof peeled open in a way that seems to defy possibility and the room’s pale colors and decorative birdcage chandeliers all arranged like something out of an unreleased Wes Anderson short, it looks lovely. The most Manhattan-as-designed-by-someone-who-has-only-ever-been-to-Los-Angeles space imaginable. The most sleekly modern in a city that wears modern like an ill-fitting pair of shoes.
Poor, poor Maison 208. It just can’t catch a break, can it?
I mean, before it even opened, some dude set the construction site on fire. Then, after it opened, a truck plowed right through one of the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room (they’ve kept it boarded up until they could fix it).
And, most recently, a burglary in the early morning of July 20th.
Sylva Senat’s long-awaited Maison 208 officially opened last night at 208 South 13th Street.
Behind the Line is Foobooz’s new weekly interview series with the people who make up Philadelphia’s dynamic bar and restaurant scene. To read last week’s Behind the Line with Michael Solomonov, go here.
We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for Maison 208, the new 13th Street restaurant from Sylva Senat, the Haitian-born chef whose trajectory has taken him through the kitchens of Stephen Starr, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, groundbreaking Indian restaurant Tashan, and, most recently, Bravo’s Top Chef, where he had quite the respectable run during the last season. Well, Maison 208 is set to open any day — hello, City of Philadelphia, please sign the paperwork! — so we asked Senat to break it all down for us.
What started as a simple raze-and-rebuild at the corner of 13th and Chancellor Streets was set back nearly two years due to a fire-by-arson at the construction site. So Senat kept himself busy by consulting around Philly, opening a Center City taqueria and appearing on season 14 of Top Chef.
But hiring and training has already started at Maison 208, the building is nearly complete (about one more week of work), and its soft opening is coming sooner than you think.
Top Chef is back for a 14th season and the still-popular Bravo show has plucked another Philadelphia-based chef to compete. Sylva Senat, who came up with Dos Tacos and was the man who opened Tashan on South Broad Street will be competing on this season from Charleston, South Carolina.
Senat’s resume is deep and varied. The Haitian native has cooked across the world including at Aquavit in New York and with Jean Georges’ restaurant at Trump Hotel. He also was chef de cuisine at 66 Leonard Street and Mercer Kitchen.
Everyone needs a project to distract them from the slings and arrows of daily life. Some people (shoutout to my dad) collect stamps. Others (also, shoutout to my dad) build model trains. And some people, the best people, open taco shops.