The Treemont
Chef Chip Roman’s latest creation treats guests to a wholly enjoyable, wholly unique experience that pays homage to the glories of French cuisine
by Brian Freedman

Before a recent meal at The Treemont, my wife had never enjoyed deviled eggs. Let me clarify: I don’t mean to say that she had never particularly enjoyed them when she tasted them; rather, she had, inexplicably, never actually taken a bite of one.

This was news to me, despite our nearly two-decades-long relationship—which, at that moment, was suddenly on shaky ground.

I was flabbergasted. Over the years, at my prodding, she’s eaten the likes of tripe, sweetbreads, brain and lamb testicles, so I naturally assumed she had, at some point or another, treated herself to the uniquely savory magic that is a properly deviled egg. I had assumed incorrectly.

So her first bite of this culinary jewel, offered here by The Treemont’s chef/owner Chip Roman, caused me no small amount of concern: How, I wondered, would she ever find pleasure in an ordinary deviled egg after sinking her teeth into this delight? Roman’s local hen egg, the yolk swirling with crème fraiche and duck confit, and electrified with pickled mustard seeds and cilantro, was the equivalent of a teetotaler taking a first sip of alcohol by way of a glass of 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild. In the case of the egg and the wine, there’s simply nowhere to go but down. The egg was that tasty.

In other words, Roman and company are plying a uniquely appealing trade at The Treemont, a restaurant that pays homage to the glories of French cuisine. The result, as fans of his other lauded restaurants—Blackfish in Conshohocken and Mica in Chestnut Hill—rightfully expect, is a very successful and wholly enjoyable experience that surprises and comforts in equal measure.

Some of this is due to the team he has assembled, including Leah Kaithern Patterson, the consummate professional who serves as director of operations and acting GM, who runs a restaurant that’s well organized, technically rigorous and thoroughly enjoyable. Dining in the high, narrow space of the second floor brings to mind the sort of casual confidence that is the result of excellent training. The unselfconsciously helpful staff lends to a perfectly pitched environment in which to partake in Roman’s food, which is also brought to fruition by his excellent chef de cuisine, Rob Sidor.

Cobia, for example, cured in vadouvan curry for six hours, gains snap from the ingenious black rice chips and further depth from an attractively broken beet-dashi-cilantro vinaigrette. The tension created by the interaction of all this is remarkable. Beets are also used to excellent effect in a side dish, this time charred, served cold and dressed with balance and exuberance.

Parisian-style gnocchi, the pâté à choux poached then fried, are elegant in texture and rich in flavor. They provide a phenomenal base against which oyster mushrooms, summer squash, pickled zucchini and watermelon radish dance alongside a puree of leek-madeira gel and ivory sauce.

Fans of Blackfish will recognize the beef short rib. Roman has accumulated legions of fans for his overall approach, of course, but the short rib is one of the dishes people mention most frequently. No wonder. The dish is braised overnight with mirepoix and red wine, and glazed with a reduction of that very liquid just before going out to the dining room. With Anson Mills grits, heirloom carrots and the acid burst of a roasted-grape vinaigrette, the dish manages the difficult trick of being simultaneously hearty and sprightly.

This, really, is “onion style” food; the flavors and textures come in layers, and the second bite of a dish often evokes a slightly different sensation than the first. Indeed, it’s food for the mind as much as it is for the palate, with the principle of pleasure guiding it all. That includes the beverage selection, composed of a strong wine list, beer options and intriguing cocktails.

Of course, because this is a Chip Roman restaurant, you are required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—or you should be—to end your meal with some sort of chocolate. He and his team have quietly but assuredly built one of the top chocolatiers in the region with Tradestone, the storefront and café in Conshohocken (right next door to Blackfish) that has become something of a place of pilgrimage for chocoholics around here. Even the chocolate cake at The Treemont—decadent with its layers of cherry, chocolate ganache and pistachio—displays Roman’s confidence with the nectar of the Aztec gods. (You also should order a Tradestone sampler, with two chocolates, two caramels and two cookies.)

My only significant issue with The Treemont, really, is the marital discord it laid bare following what has become known in my house as The Night of the Deviled Egg Incident. My wife has, as expected, become a fan of them but also an inveterate deviled-egg snob. This, I suppose, is bound to happen when your first taste is of Roman’s version. It’s a price worth paying, though, when the food is this good.

The Treemont
231 S. 15th Street, Philadelphia
267-687-2237 |

Photograph by Rob Hall