208 S. 13th St.; 215-999-1020; maison208.com
Is it a glamour lounge for the retractable roof-deck set, an accessible showplace for one of the city's most talented chefs, a destination for mural lovers, or a mishap magnet of epic proportions? Maison 208 has been all of the above, a 'tweener project that aims to bridge the bar-restaurant divide with culinary ambition, creative cocktails, and natural wines. The return of ex-Tashan chef Sylva Senat is the most compelling draw, as he brings a unique modern cuisine accented by the island flair of his Haitian roots. It is not always best showcased, though, by Maison's multitasking mission.
MENU HIGHLIGHTS Griote à piklis pork belly; island lollipop; pizza noir; chilled tomato soup; scallop; whole dorade; duck breast; lamb loins; banana crème brûlée.
DRINKS Maison shoots high for a progressive drink program, with an extensive list of "natural" wines among the 27 wines by the glass, more ciders than beer, and a list of creative cocktails. The mixed drinks offer well-rendered twists on familiar ideas, turning a margarita "dirty" with caper brine, finding a stellar use for local Boardroom Spirit's beet liquor (Tequila Mockingbird), and a build-your-own gin punch bowl (gin & terrarium) that is a showpiece to share.
WEEKEND NOISE When the window walls are closed, the dining room can pop at a noisy 93 decibels. Continuous improvements to soften the hard surfaces, though, should begin to rein that in. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
IF YOU GO Dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, until 11 p.m. Sunday brunch beginning mid-September.
Dinner entrées, $14-$36.
All major cards.
Street and lot parking only.