Chef Sylva Senat is ready to roll out the welcome mat at Maison 208.
On the menu at Maison: Wagyu beef stick bites with balsamic-soy glaze and southern fried onion rings.
In a city where celebrated chefs can feel like our friends, Sylva Senat stands out. As the opening executive chef at Tashan, he turned its white-linen, modern Indian menu into a fresh-focused mélange of French and Haitian-inspired flavors with zeal. So stunning was Senat’s culinary conceptualism, that when he left Tashan in 2013, Philly foodies wondered where he would land and when he would open his own restaurant.
“Yes, it took a minute, and not every minute was happy,” says Senat, standing in the bare bones of his debut project, Maison 208, in the former Letto Deli. “I’m a concept-driven chef and wanted to explore different cuisines, so I consulted, first for Michael Schulson in Ardmore, then Spice 28 and Dos Tacos. I make menus.” The restaurant’s name hints at French food but Senat says it’s more about the definition of the word: Maison is something closer to an intimate, New American-driven house party, albeit one with a “great wine cave, private dining space, and 66 seats,” he says.
A September 2015 fire slowed Senat’s roll—the incident prompted him to change architects and designs—but he wasn’t deterred from making his maison in the “vivacious” neighborhood of Midtown Village. Cityscape murals will bleed from outside to inside Maison, with a menu that’s “not crazy fine dining, but you know me—I can’t help myself,” he laughs. “Even something casual becomes something elegant when I get my hands on it.” 208 S. 13th St.