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Stepping into Matyson from the chilly autumn air was like walking into the dining room of our stylish, middle-aged best friend's house for a dinner party. Though the restaurant's choice of artwork is perplexing and slightly disturbing, the ambiance was fabulous -- warm and lively without being garishly loud.

After navigating our way through the narrow space filled with tables populated by a decidedly middle-aged crowd, we settled in and struggled to choose from the tantalizing selection of specials -- most notably a $40 duck-themed prix fixe -- but ultimately decided to go with Matyson's standard fare.

We began with the polenta atop forest mushrooms ($10). Though the polenta itself was slightly bland, the mushrooms exploded with flavor, and the parmesan sauce was equally exciting.

We also tried the seared foie gras ($16) which -- like the polenta -- was unremarkable (if foie gras can ever be unremarkable, that is) but was complemented exceptionally by a tangy dried-cherry drizzle that asserted its unique flavor without overpowering the dish.

Like all of the dishes we sampled throughout the evening, this appetizer was an exceptional marriage of textures: creamy foie gras atop a crunchy crouton beside a smooth duck rillette and crunchy caramelized pears.

For our main course, we had sauteed scallops served with black trumpet mushrooms, mashed potatoes and a mushroom sauce ($24). The scallops were uninventive and surprisingly -- depressingly -- sandy. Again, the boundlessly flavorful mushrooms were the clear standout in this dish, and we wished that there were far more mushrooms and far fewer mashed potatoes, though scallions gave the potatoes good, subtle flavor.

We also tried the "pork two ways," ($24) a combination of roasted tenderloin and crispy belly served with herb spaetzle, Brussels sprouts and apple chutney.

The dish was a fantastic juxtaposition of textures -- rich, fatty pork belly next to smoky pork tenderloin that was perfectly cooked. The herb spaetzle was delicious, and the apple chutney gave the dish a pleasant aftertaste.

We ended our meal with a pumpkin-pie ice cream sundae ($8) that perfectly concluded a repast dominated by intelligent texture combinations. Topped with a flower garnish and served in a tall glass, the whipped cream was delectable, the pie crust amazingly crunchy and sugary and the ice cream refreshingly spicy.

As autumn arrives with leaves crunching underfoot, you will surely want to experience the inventive texture combinations at this BYO off of Rittenhouse Square.

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