As I’ve noted here and here, “theme” restaurants — restaurants designed for those who can’t discriminate between mealtime and play time — come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like Eternity Restaurant in Ukraine, which makes its home in a large custom-built coffin, appeal to an odd sensibility, while others (think The Bunyadi in London where you dine in the nude) seek to titillate, as well as feed, its patrons.
Every now and then, a theme restaurant comes along that pushes the limits of taste and civility. Such an establishment was the now-shuttered Soldatenkaffee, in Indonesia, which embraced a Nazi theme.
Whether Mad Rex, which opened recently in Philadelphia, is of a piece with Soldatenkaffee or is simply about having fun is in the eye — and taste buds — of the diner. The restaurant bills itself as a post-apocalyptic “survivors kitchen.”
Fittingly, the decor is of the “no nonsense” school: bare-topped wooden tables and an almost surgical-looking chrome-limned open kitchen. The food, which is whimsically described as “of a new world,” seems anchored to the present. There are flatbreads and kabobs among the starters, pan-seared salmon and a New York strip among the mains. There is also a “survivor menu,” comprised of beef, fish, or chicken that is served rare and pre-sliced for convenience. No time for a leisurely repast when there’s a zombie lurching toward you from behind.
When you’re through eating — or before, if you choose — there is a virtual reality lounge where you can really face your imaginary demons.
All in all, Max Rex seems like a party space for older kids, including the adult variety.
A video of an interview with owner Michael Johnigean will tell you more about the vision behind the restaurant.
Mad Rex, 1000 Frankford Ave St 1, Philadelphia, 267-773-7566.