If you’ve been frequenting farmers’ markets and local food events for the past few years, you may have bumped into chef Matthew Ridgway. I first heard of him through Kristin Perry of the Kitchen Potager in Ottsville. Kristin had organized a great farm-to-table dinner in September 2011 with Matthew doing the cooking. Then he started popping up at the Stockton Market selling his exceptional charcuterie under the name PorcSalt. But then he sort of disappeared again, as he looked for another commercial kitchen in which to make his goods. I would see him from time to time, and then Kristin said he was planning on taking the space formerly occupied by The Cafe at Rosemont, a landmark for over 25 years, just north of Stockton. Now, Ridgway plans to open his first restaurant there, the PASS, this Wednesday, May 1.
This new BYOB extends the already impressive canopy of the Jean-Marie Lacroix chef family tree, as Ridgway was first known locally for his work with his mentor. He served under Lacroix as a chef in The Fountain Room, then left with him to launch and serve as chef de cuisine for four years at Lacroix’s namesake restaurant in The Rittenhouse Hotel. He then left Philadelphia in 2004, and cooked in restaurants in Atlanta and New York, including two kitchens where he worked closely with Michelin star rated chef/owner, Joël Antunes.
In 2010, Matthew took a break from restaurant kitchens to pursue a passion of his – artisan charcuterie. He came back to Bucks County where he had grown up (his family still lives in Buckingham). Since then his PorcSalt charcuterie products have received acclaim from foodies, gourmet food retailers, critics, and restaurateurs alike.
Last year, Ridgway began renovating the old general store in Rosemont to become the home for the PASS, and a retail store that stocks all his PorcSalt charcuterie products. Teaming with him in the kitchen is long-time colleague Paul Mitchell. The chefs worked side-by-side for years in both The Fountain Room and Lacroix.
The three-course prix fixe menu at the PASS will change frequently to offer an eclectic mix from Ridgway’s French-inspired repertoire. Porcsalt charcuterie will make appearances, but won’t always have starring roles. Ridgway describes the restaurant as, ”like a French routier or roadhouse; we use quality ingredients to elevate simple dishes. The atmosphere is intentionally casual, and the prices are reasonable.”
Dinner will be served Wednesday through Saturday, with plans to soon add an extended brunch on Sundays. The Charcuterie Counter is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. The restaurant is at 88 Kingwood Stockton Road in Rosemont, NJ. You can reach them at 609.961.1887 or at their website. Stay in touch at Matthew’s blog too.
The restaurant is now taking reservations for this first menu, available May 1. Choice of first + second + dessert: $38.50
red wine bacon, garlic escargot, parsley puree
guitarra pasta a la carbonara
black mushroom bouillon
shaved mushrooms, citrus oil
lacquered sweetbread, pickled asian pear
young chicken fra diavolo
sauce charcuterie, toast points
whiskey tart w/ ice cream
cheese (add $3)