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.
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.
The 14th season of Top Chef is set to begin on December 1st and Philadelphia’s culinary scene is set to have ample representation.
Sylva Senat, the Philadelphia-based chef who pioneered Dos Tacos and opened Tashan, will appear as a contestant. His dynamic resume includes working at Buddakan, graduating from Philadelphia’s Careers Through Culinary Arts Program and remaining a mentor. He is part of the team currently planning Maison 208. Michael Solomonov, too, will appear as a guest judge this season.
Bravo released its first preview of the season yesterday and though Senat isn’t featured prominently in the preview, a back MRI and Padma flirting with the chefs make up for that.
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.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has announced its designers and culinary teams for its two PHS Pop Up Gardens this summer. PHS returns to 15th and South for a third year on June 1st. The garden is being designed by Karen Regan of Tallulah & Bird. Regan created last year’s garden and this year is planning aged woods, inventive planters, antiques, flea market finds and curiosities to conjure a magical retreat. Plantings will include roses, fragrant herbs, cocktail cucumbers, a canopy of pink crape myrtles, climbing vines of hops, wisteria and clematis. As a centerpiece, there will be an illuminated, towering mulberry tree.
The attractive restaurant opened almost exactly four years ago to excellent reviews but never became the hard-to-get a reservation, must-be-seen-at restaurant that Narula envisioned it would become, and many, including this site practically demanded it be.
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.