Concepts and Deals Make Mica’s Chip Roman Feel Cheap

Chip Roman on the front steps at Mica
Chip Roman on the front steps at Mica Photo: Collin Keefe

Chip Roman, the 31-year-old whiz kid behind Conshohocken’s very well received Blackfish, isn’t too keen on concept restaurants and believes the recent rise of deal-seeking customers only serves to cheapen the dining out experience. At Mica, the 33-seat Chestnut Hill restaurant he’s opening tonight, he will offer only four or more course prix fixe dinners, and in weeks to come five and seven course chef’s tastings. There won’t be any a la carte, split orders or dining deals, period. “When you go out to dinner, you’re not paying for the food, you’re paying for the seat,” Roman told Grub Street. “Honestly, I can’t afford to have people sitting here on the weekends ordering a salad and splitting an entree.”

His prix fixe menus will start at about $50 per person, and he hopes to keep the chef’s tastings to about $70 for five courses and $90 for seven. Even at those price points, he says his profit margins are very slim. From sustainable seafood and farm-raised meats to his Faema 1961 espresso machine (one of only six in the country), he insists that everything at Mica is of the highest possible quality. And that level of quality he maintains doesn’t come cheap.

Though he sources his produce from local farmers, plans to build a greenhouse outback to supply Mica, and his kitchen sidekick, former Lacroix chef Jason Cichonski, can’t wait to start foraging for ramps and wild mushrooms in the nearby Wissahickon, Roman cautions against labeling his latest venture farm-to-table.

“This town has been concepted out,” Roman said. “Farm-to-table is the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever heard. Everything comes from a farm.”

In the next breath he raves about his recent dinner at The Farm and the Fisherman, the Center City BYOB his former college roommate Josh Lawler just opened with his wife Colleen.

When pressed for a description for Mica, Roman reluctantly offers “American Progressive.”

“We’re two young American chefs (himself and Cichonski) who are constantly pushing food forward,” he added. “I’m not saying I’m totally against concepts; they’re just not for me. Really all we’re trying to do is showcase everyone’s talents.”

Mica’s Opening Menu

Sea Urchin
Whisky custard, passion fruit, cucumber

Hosie Pear Salad
Serrano ham, wild rice zahtar

Foie Gras Terrine
White honey, rhubarb, long pepper

Baby Spanish Octopus

Licorice, white asparagus, bacon

Artichoke Angolotti

Wild mushrooms, miso

Diver Scallops
Heart of palm, gooseberry, horseradish

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Shoulder
Shiso, breakfast radishes, peanut-mole

John Dury
Baby squash, walnuts, feta cheese, ash

Organic Capon
Ricotta, grilled fava beans, black garlic

Amaranth, golden beets

Panna Cotta
Caramel, cocoa powder, raspberry

Manjari Chocolate
Tequila-hibiscus, coffee crumbs, brown butter-banana ice cream

Frozen Mango
Candied black sesame, coconut

Mica, 8609 Germantown Avenue, (267) 335-3912

Concepts and Deals Make Mica’s Chip Roman Feel Cheap