Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Matt Levin's restaurant: The details

The former chef at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse is going into a corner.

Matt Levin's restaurant: The details

Friends, Romans, and countrymen... Lend me your Latin dictionary.

Adsum -- Latin for "I am here" (pronounce it "ad-SOOM") -- is the name of chef Matt Levin's bistro opening in May-June at Fifth and Bainbridge Streets in the space that's housed some ill-starred establishments, most recently Coquette.

Levin, former chef at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, has been itching to get back into the biz as a solo act for some time. He planned a Northern Liberties spot called Masano and then a Manayunk barbecue joint called Rubb before the deals fell apart.

At Adsum, he'll be partnered with former Eagles tackle (and current House candidate) Jon Runyan and friend Kar Vivekananthan.

"My favorite thing about Philadelphia is the small neighborhoods," Levin told me. "Everyone tells me that the people who live in this neighborhood love the neighborhood. Well, I absolutely love the neighborhood." Part of this love stems from the nearby stretch of Fourth Street known as Fabric Row, which reminds him of his father, who was in the fabric industry.

Vivekananthan is working on "the things that make a chef’s eyes bleed, like the liquor license, zoning issues, and permits," Levin says.

Levin is engineering the concept as neighborhood bistro. "The food will be super-approachable, like fried chicken, a great burger, a variety of vegetarian options." Full bar. Levin says he will work at a cold station in the dining room.

"The reason I wanted to do something low-scale is because I've always cooked food the way the media wanted me to," he said. "I want to cook food you can just grub on -- food that's delicious, looks nice and you can understand." Dishes will be $5 to $22.

Color scheme will be dramatically lighter and more scientific than Coquette's look. They're cutting down old laboratory tables for the dining room. Hours will be 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.

He says he thinks he knows what doomed previous restaurants, besides the food. While shoveling during one of the recent snowstorms, he and Vivekananthan hit a penny that had been painted into one of the steel basement Bilco doors.

It was stuck in there tails-up, dated 1984. They removed it.

Perhaps this will end the curse.

Michael Klein Philly.com
About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at mklein@philly.com.

Michael Klein Philly.com
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