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Ansill Opening


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I went to Ansill last night with 3 other people so we got the opportunity to sample a large amount of offerings.  I am a big Pif fan and so I was hoping not to be dissapointed.  While I agree with Philadining's overall impression that is very good but not "killer",

basically, yeah. unlike say, lacroix, or studiokitchen, or somewhere real fancy, both southwark and ansill are the kind of places i like to go back to again and again. the occasional dish really hits home and sends me into rhapsodic ramblings about this and that, but most of the things are very good and just plain enjoyable.

i'll be back.

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Panino du jour (homemade nutella and raspberries).  The fillings were very good as was the accompaniment of raspberry sorbet but the "wonder" bread used was the dominant flavor and was not my speed.  Like Pif, the desserts are not the strong suit at Ansill.

This statement is shocking! Shocking, I tell you. :biggrin: The desserts at Pif, over the many times that I've been there, have ranged from excellent to phenomenal. We've never felt that the desserts haven't been as strong as the other food.

What are the dessert selections like at Ansill?

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Panino du jour (homemade nutella and raspberries).  The fillings were very good as was the accompaniment of raspberry sorbet but the "wonder" bread used was the dominant flavor and was not my speed.  Like Pif, the desserts are not the strong suit at Ansill.

This statement is shocking! Shocking, I tell you. :biggrin: The desserts at Pif, over the many times that I've been there, have ranged from excellent to phenomenal. We've never felt that the desserts haven't been as strong as the other food.

What are the dessert selections like at Ansill?

I have to agree with you. I'm surprised by that statement. The desserts, prepared by Mrs. Ansill, have always been wonderful at Pif. Same with Ansill. We were there about a week ago. I had an interesting rice pudding and S.O. had something very good that involved toasted brioche. Sorry I can't be more descriptive.

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Panino du jour (homemade nutella and raspberries).  The fillings were very good as was the accompaniment of raspberry sorbet but the "wonder" bread used was the dominant flavor and was not my speed.  Like Pif, the desserts are not the strong suit at Ansill.

This statement is shocking! Shocking, I tell you. :biggrin: The desserts at Pif, over the many times that I've been there, have ranged from excellent to phenomenal. We've never felt that the desserts haven't been as strong as the other food.

What are the dessert selections like at Ansill?

I have to agree with you. I'm surprised by that statement. The desserts, prepared by Mrs. Ansill, have always been wonderful at Pif. Same with Ansill. We were there about a week ago. I had an interesting rice pudding and S.O. had something very good that involved toasted brioche. Sorry I can't be more descriptive.

As always, to each his or her own. Pif is my favorite restaurant and I have been there more times than I can count. For me the last course has pretty much not been memorable. Creme brulee is good but its just that. They have the financier and coup Lorraine and some other things that I have tried which don't measure up to the level of the food. I am glad the sentiment is not universal but gives me the extra boost to hit Capogiro after I go to Pif :biggrin: As far as Ansill, I don't recall the selections offhand but they are along the same vein if memory serves and so I can't opine without having actually sampled them.

Evan

Dough can sense fear.

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Nice, if slightly odd review of Ansill in The Daily News.

The review itself is one of those "we don't really know anything about this, but..." pieces. It makes one wonder if there will ever be a new restaurant reviewer there, or if they'll just get some staffer to write one now and then?

(Apparently the former reviewer, Sono Motoyama, is still doing some food writing, we might see something of eG interest soon...)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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The first part of the review is reminiscent of Amanda Hesser's columns in the NYT Magazine, when she and her (now) husband, aka Mr. Latte, were courting. It gets only a little more interesting once Ms. Lucey finally gets to the food. Although she liked Ansill, had I not read posts from trusted eGers, this would not be a place I’d run to in the near future.

Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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The first part of the review is reminiscent of Amanda Hesser's columns in the NYT Magazine, when she and her (now) husband, aka Mr. Latte, were courting.  It gets only a little more interesting once Ms. Lucey finally gets to the food.  Although she liked Ansill, had I not read posts from trusted eGers, this would not be a place I’d run to in the near future.

I would hesitate calling that a serious "review". I would think from the tone and text of the article that the author would agree.

Evan

Dough can sense fear.

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The first part of the review is reminiscent of Amanda Hesser's columns in the NYT Magazine, when she and her (now) husband, aka Mr. Latte, were courting.  It gets only a little more interesting once Ms. Lucey finally gets to the food.  Although she liked Ansill, had I not read posts from trusted eGers, this would not be a place I’d run to in the near future.

I would hesitate calling that a serious "review". I would think from the tone and text of the article that the author would agree.

Evan

I think it's intended to be. Dismal failure, by my lights.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally got a chance to try Ansill out for myself Saturday, and with four like-minded perpetrators, I account it a comprehensive experience. I liked it. I knew I would. But... To start with, the prices have crept up from those quoted earlier in this thread, and on various reviews. Nothing enormous, just a dollar or two, but on everything, and in many cases that is the difference between what feels like a casual mouthfull and a purchase with an obligation to please.

To begin at the... well, no Begine, but where it hurts the most: the wine list is not bad, in fact, by the standards to which we hold winelists probably well above average. But the house wines, of which I tried a half-carafe each (Pinot Grigio and Shiraz) are, while perfectly agreeable, certainly no better than that: inoffensive, quaffable drinks, where I hoped for something with a bit more character. Elsewhere on the list, it is hard to find something to land on wholeheartedly: a $6 (PLCB - $4 elsewhere) vinho verde is $26; that, believe it or not, is one of the more tempting options.

The food is entirely better than that: we start with the oysters with a re-wine granita, and the shirred eggs with foie gras: the eggs are close to perfection, except for a need to double the toast points; the oysters are very good, but the granita makes me wonder what the cucumber gelee I read about elsewhere might have contributed, had Philadining not interfered.

A second volley brought pork belly with mustarde spaetzle and boquerones crostini: both excellent, though the pork belly could have had a *little* more fat rendered out. The boquerones were darn nearly perfect, though a tiny portion (at a tiny price).

Next we went for the talleggio with sour cherries and the vegetable panino. I like the cheese, found the vegetable sammich underwhelming; my party disagreed, yet I find it in my hear to overlook their misjudgement.

Fourthly we ordered the langostinos, the venison crudo and the sweetbreads. Hits all around, though by now my order of the (fairly undistinguished) dark beer on tap had made itself felt and I cannot fairly detail my impressions.

Other things may have been ordered by immoderate people such as my less sober self. A good time was widely held to have been had.

The tab was roughly $190.

No complaints except in the drinks department: it would hurt no-one to expand the list to encompass a couple of rougher and readier wines to go with the two uninteresting house wines currently on offer. Same for the beers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Took a chance on Ansill last night as a last minute idea. I definitely thought there would be a wait at 7:30, but much to my surprise, there were several empty tables and we (dining companion and myself) were seated immediately. I never made it there before when it was Judy's, so I'm not sure what changes they made to the interior, but I liked the space a lot. It's comfortable, not terribly noisy and simply adorned. I could definitely see myself sidling up to that bar and doing it like a real tapas place. Anyway, on to the food.

The wine list is certainly approachable. Seems to have decent range in scope of wines and lack of gouging in the price department. They'll also let you taste any of the wines they offer by the glass to help inform your decision, which I find to be a nice touch. There is a decent selection of beers, but were in a wine mood. Tasted two, a Vouvray and a Viognier, went with the Viognier.

Started with the fluke ceviche with apple and mint. Not the best ceviche I've had. I would have preferred that the acid and mint play a more prominent role. Too muted. Aside from the fish having a nice texture the flavor was dominated by shallot. It just took over. Balance in ceviche is difficult as this dish proved. Still, it was relatively refreshing. We followed that with two crostinis: bone marrow and mushroom. Bone marrow was great. Super rich and creamy. I think they would be better served by a more favorable marrow/bread ratio, but that's quibbling. It also need a heavier hand with the fleur de sel. Again, quibbling. Mushroom wasn't as good. Nice mix of trumpets and chanterelles served room temp. I assume they were sauteed and deglazed with vinegar (probably sherry), but since they were room temp the vinegar was a bit too strong. Overall, though, good flavor and texture.

From there we moved on to the sweetbreads. Delicious. My favorite dish of the evening. Nicely crisped on the outside. Smooth, creamy and nutty on the inside. Served with pancetta and mushrooms (again, chanterelles and trumpets). Nothing fancy, it was just perfectly done. Really tasty. We had an order of the mustard spaetzle on the side. Again, straightforward but good. Shirred egg with truffle proved to be my second favorite. I really appreciate that they were judicious with the truffle/truffle oil. Too often people start throwing it around with loose a hand. This was just right. Earthy and funky, but not overpowering. Sometimes subtlety is the way to go. Granted, I would have preferred a less subtle portion of foie gras, but for $11 you can't complain. It was another perfectly executed dish where every ingredient played an important and useful role.

We were still hungry after that so we added an order of cheese (delice de bourgogne) and one plate of the oxtail terrine. The cheese was good as was the terrine. Skipped dessert (capogiro was on the agenda). Total came to just under $100.

The press has been good so far and I can't argue. It was, overall, a solid meal and precisely the kind of place Philly needs. If you go hungry and plan on filling up it might cost a bit, but it's worth it.

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I too finally had the chance to eat at Ansill this weekend. I loved it, many of the dished that I choose have already been reviewed, the shirred eggs with foie gras, I just loved this dish. I think it was my favorite of the evening.

Also had the sauteed mushrooms, truffled califlower, and a few different cheese plates.

I thought the wine list was interesting and well priced.

Can't wait to go back for more! :biggrin:

CherieV

Eat well, drink better!

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Got a few bites at Ansill tonight, and thoroughly enjoyed everything again.

(My apologies, the pix are a little dicey, we were at a very dimly-lit table, but I gave it my best shot...)

The Osso Buco "Sandwich"

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This was delicious, with tender, falling-apart shank meat over a slice of brioche, fully soaked with rich juices. This is definitely on the list to get again. And it's a charming continuum to keep osso buco on the menu, it was such a strong presence on the Judy's menu.

Fingerling Potatoes

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Pretty straightforward, but very tasty. The vinegary sauce and no small amount of bacon, resulted in a dish that reminded me of my Grandmother's homemade german potato salad, (and I mean that as a high compliment.)

Boar Belly

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I'm not sure I could distinguish this as Boar, as opposed to domestic pig, but it was every bit as satisfying as an earlier version I had here. The fat was not quite as rendered-out as it might be in a perfect world, but it's not as if that stopped me from totally digging this dish. As has been commented on many times in this thread, the pork is great, and both the mustardy sauce and the spaetzel are excellent reinforcements.

Grilled Baby Octopus

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It wasn't this blurry in real life... I've had a lot of good grilled octopus, including transcendent versions at Amada recently, and of course the classic at Dimitri's. I'm somewhat surprised to say that Ansill's version is the best I've ever had, by a good margin. This was impossibly tender, with a smoky grilled edge to the flavor, and a slightly tangy twist from a gentle marinade. Perfect. The new standard.

Chocolate Pain des Genes with vanilla lime sauce

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A very dense cocoa-almond cake was topped with a buttery ganache, and surrounded by an assertively tart lime sauce. I've always liked citrus and chocolate, but the slight nutty component of the cake bridged the flavors even more elegantly. Loved it.

Ansill is really doing this style of food right, and this style of food feels like exactly the right thing at this point in history. Excellent ingredients, excellent execution, simple and flexible menu, it's just what I want these days...

(eta) Service was also exactly right: friendly, funny, helpful, but not hovering.

I'll be back soon.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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  • 2 months later...

Had another really nice meal at Ansill

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Complimentary Olives to start. We realized later that they never brought us any bread....

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Striped Bass Ceviche

This was bright and fresh, tart and herby. Loved it.

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Duck Prosciutto

The duck was very tender and delicate, delicious, but easily overwhelmed. The figs were a nice compliment, but cut a bit too large, and tended to blot out the flavor of the duck if eaten together. And what exactly is the deal with the three little slices of bread? This is not the first dish I've gotten with way too little bread, I can't imagine it would be a hardship to toss on a few more slices! Actually the portion overall was a touch small, the first thing i've gotten there that seemed that way. Still, very good, glad I got it.

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Grilled Octopus

Excellent. Tender, great grill flavor, nice tangy marinade, complimentary greens. An unequivocal winner.

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Grilled Langoustines

Great flavor and texture, sweet and fresh. The only downside is that there's not a whole lot to eat on a langoustine...

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Grilled Asparagus

Simple, springy, perfect.

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Osso Bucco Sandwich

This is one of my favorite things to eat in all of Philly. With tender, flavorful meat atop a crispy toasted brioche, which is soaking up the rich sauce - what's not to love?

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Hazelnut - Chocolate Terrine

An airy mouse, with a crunchy base, studded with nuts. Smooth, light, restrained, but very nice.

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Chocolate and Strawberry Jam Panino

Gooey, intense dark chocolate, with an overtone of fruit, on freshly toasted bread, a dollop of marscapone in case it wasn't rich enough.... Liked it a lot.

Glasses of Vouvray and Viogner were just right on this warm day, and both went well with most everything, right up until the Osso Bucco sandwich. A Coteaux de Layon might not have been a match with dessert, but was a great meal-ender on its own.

Overall, another very satisfying meal at Ansill, and I'll be back, both for what have become firm favorites, and to try more...

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Dude - you were right in my 'hood and didn't even call me. :angry:

Pfffft. :raz:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Girlfriend and I have been to Ansill twice now, and were wowed each time. We've had a good portion of the menu, and the only thing that was at all disappointing was the ceviche, which was just fine, but as murkcury noted, too muted. In particular, we loved the scallions with romanesco, which hasn't seemed to do it for others. Osso buco sandwhich and pork belly with spaetzle were standouts (how can you go wrong with spaetzle?) -- the pork belly was not exceptionally fatty, which was a nice way to experience it.

Pif and Ansill are real gems. David Ansill's tastes just seem to match perfectly with ours. It's a rare and amazing thing when you can find that.

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Check out Gourmet Magazine this month, a nod to David Ansill on his new place as the homage to small plate dining. They liked the osso buco sandwich but Philadining liked it first. They also like the sweetbreads which Evan enjoyed so much.

Another "Philly" place in New York discussed in the mag is the ubiquitous Stephen Starr's Buddakan.

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One thing I like about this place is that the offerings are often adjusted and altered, so while there will be a fairly predictable range of things, the rillettes might be oxtails, or pheasant, or salmon; the ceviche might be fluke or bass, or something new today; the langoustines might have a different sauce drizzled over them; the spaetzel might be holding up the belly of a wild boar, or a more domestic pig.

So I'm not too surprised to find varied reactions to some of the same dishes, especially when factoring-in personal preferences. The ceviche we had recently was in no way muted. And the scallions we had a while back were just sort of blah... but I'll bet much of that is down to the particular fish or meat or produce that day. A dish like the scallions is going to soar or drag based on how good the onions are that day, regardless of what happens at the stove. But Ansill's romesco sauce is quite nice...

Anyway, glad you liked it overall, dagordon, thanks for the report! And good to see that they're getting some notice.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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  • 2 months later...

OK, drive-by impressions of Ansill based on last night's visit:

The shirred eggs are great, no doubt. The truffle adds a depth and earthiness to the dish; it's a natural combination, like truffle and goat cheese. I don't think the foie gras added much, though. It's a small piece (which is fine), but a little tough-- overcooked, I guess-- and I didn't get much flavor. On the other hand, one of us didn't eat foie, so it meant that I got more.

Sweetbreads are very good. The texture (crispy/creamy) combination is great, and the pairing with peas, pancetta and chanterelles brings out some nice flavor profiles: sweetness, saltiness and, um, mushroominess.

Country pate is very solid, hammy and satisfying. More cornichons would have been nice, but I'm a glutton for pickles; ditto toasts.

Spaetzle (pan-fried) was crispy and good. Roasted peppers weren't all that exciting, but perfectly fine.

We got a couple of desserts: lavender panna cotta, which our waiter accurately described as like eating some sort of crazy sexy flower, and the panino of the day: blueberry jam and chocolate on brioche. Fun to eat.

With a $40 bottle of Viognier, the bill came to around $120 including tax and tip.

Overall, a fun place. The food is great, and I'm psyched to try it again. As mrbigjas said, I can see it being the sort of place I could go back to regularly, and I'm glad to have it in my neighborhood.

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More cornichons would have been nice, but I'm a glutton for pickles; ditto toasts.

Not to derail, but what's with the stingy toasts trend? Seems like everytime I get pates/terrines/mousse it comes with fewer toasts, and greater resistance to bringing more. Sometimes the table bread works as a sub, and sometimes it really kinda doesn't.

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More cornichons would have been nice, but I'm a glutton for pickles; ditto toasts.

Not to derail, but what's with the stingy toasts trend? Seems like everytime I get pates/terrines/mousse it comes with fewer toasts, and greater resistance to bringing more. Sometimes the table bread works as a sub, and sometimes it really kinda doesn't.

ansill has been guilty of this since the beginning--i whined about it on my first post about the place on this very thread back in february--and i really don't understand it. it's nice and generous to give a big pile or cup of rillettes or pate, but it's not pleasant to just eat it as is. you can't just take forkfuls of rillettes--you have to put it ON something, and three little triangles of toast are not the answer.

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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Ansill has been guilty of this since the beginning--i whined about it on my first post about the place on this very thread back in february--and i really don't understand it. it's nice and generous to give a big pile or cup of rillettes or pate, but it's not pleasant to just eat it as is. you can't just take forkfuls of rillettes--you have to put it ON something, and three little triangles of toast are not the answer

Southwark does this too. The chicken liver mousse is totally freaking awesome, but it is a generous portion that comes with four little fingers of toast.

I suppose the rationale is that it's not as aesthetic and distracts from the pate or whatever to pile toast on the plate. But a small basket would solve this problem.

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Anyone have a feel for how hard it is to get a table for two at Ansill these days? I assume they're still not taking reservations. If I show up at 7:30 on a weeknight, will I be out of luck?

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I've never had to wait, even when they've been moderately busy. I think on a weeknight, especially in the summer, you'll have no trouble at all. On the off-chance that they're totally jammed, if you're OK with it, the bar is pretty comfortable for eating too....

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I've never had to wait, even when they've been moderately busy.  I think on a weeknight, especially in the summer, you'll have no trouble at all.  On the off-chance that they're totally jammed,  if you're OK with it, the bar is pretty comfortable for eating too....

what he said. it's a pretty big place, actually. i've eaten at tables twice and at the bar once, on thursdays and tuesdays and saturdays and never had to wait.

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  • 2 months later...

Made another run by Ansill a little while ago, and apropos of HD73's question about getting a table, it was no problem at all, in fact it was surprisingly open. Not empty, but really, this place ought to be packed all the time, so if you've been reluctant, thinking it might be a hassle, or if it's fallen off your radar, now is the time!

Boquerones Crostini

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At first crunch, all I could taste was the bright, tart marinade, but the flavors changed in the mouth, eventually revealing the fresh, subtle anchovies. I liked it.

Scrambled Duck Egg with Smoked Trout

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Midway thought eating this we were trying to remember what kind of pork it was that was so delicious on these creamy eggs. We were both shocked to recall that it was smoked trout. This was really good.

Ceviche with Watermelon Pickle

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I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember what kind of fish this was... but it was very tasty, with a great texture and tang from the cure. We especially liked the watermelon pickle.

Wild Boar Prosciutto

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Nice silky texture to both the meat and the fat, good flavor, not especially thrilling, but good. Woohoo!! we got promoted up to 4 pieces of bread!! I should have known by now and just asked for some more, but we really needed a few more slices. What is the deal?!?!

Shirred Eggs with Foie Gras and truffle

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There's not really anything to say that hasn't been said plenty of times previously. This just rocks. Oh wait, I thought of something: more bread!!!

Pork Belly

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This might have been the best version I've had of all my visits, and I've liked all of them. The spaetzel seemed a bit less mustardy, which is not necessarily an improvement, but the meat was really nicely cooked, not all that fatty, but what there was had rendered down to that luxurious custardy texture...

Hanger Steak

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Holy Shizzy!! This was pretty straight-ahead, just a grilled steak with a winey sauce, but wow, it had a great depth of flavor, and was surprisingly tender for a hanger. One of the highlights of the night. (OK, I've had one better hanger steak recently, but I can't talk about it...)

Osso Buco Sandwich

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I've said it before, and I'll stand by it, this is one of my favorite things to eat in the whole city.

The whole meal was really quite delicious. if I had to quibble about anything, it might be the order, and pacing of some of the dishes. I posted them in the order they were delivered, and I think the flavor flow was a little weird... I ended up setting the duck egg aside for a little while because the boquerones were followed a little better by the ceviche, rather than bouncing over to the eggs, and then back to cistrusy fish. As a result the eggs had cooled a bit by the time I was ready for them, they were still very good, but would have been better hot. And I might have had the prosciutto earlier, maybe they were intentionally separating the eggs...but i would have been OK with those following one another.

The only other criticism I have is that there wasn't much to choose from by way of vegetables, and save for a few good green beans with the steak, not much accompanied the dishes as served. It wasn't a crisis, but if there had been something green and crunchy (I've ordered the asparagus previously) we would have gotten it.

Still, those are minor comments, we both really enjoyed the food, and service was friendly and helpful too.

We started out with some bubbly, a prosecco which was really good with most of the early dishes, and a lambrusco that was less so. A white burgundy carried us well through the middle range, especially the eggs, and a rioja did well for the meaty parts at the end.

This was probably too much food for two people, but hey... somehow we finished it.

As I mentioned, it was not especially busy, but should be, so go!

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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