That Ansill's So Hot Right Now!

Even more than a year after opening, the cherry wood stools at Ansill's bar are in short supply. We were lucky to wedge into two seats last night during a much-needed return visit to the David Ansill's pea-green laboratory of small plate symphonics. (Plus we've been waiting to use that Zoolander title for, like, ten months now.) Here's what we love: the causal vibe, the friendly service, the big windows that let you laugh at the tourists strolling down Bainbridge who got lost on their way to Johnny Rockets. Ansill feels more like a neighborhood bar than one of Philly's finest examples of culinary excellence. Here's why Ansill's tapas work: they're precious but not pretentious, small but not small on flavor. Ribbons of duck prosciutto melt in your mouth, surrounding smoked Marcona almonds in a luscious o-zone of fat. The summery soft-shell crab pauses mid-scurry across a raft of pencil asparagus; its crisped legs crunch like Cheetos. An iridescent dune of snapper is like something served at a beachside hut in Ko Samui, its limey twangs and anise notes of basil are anchored by an undercurrent of ocean freshness. The ridiculous pork belly--our favorite in the city--over speatzel and the fingerling potatoes tossed in a bacony, oniony jus are not shy on taste. This is man-tapas, neither dainty nor delicate. The brawny, rustic flavors don't ask for your attention, they command it. Desserts still fall short--a lemongrass creme brulee is more pedestrian vanilla than evocatively Oriental--making cheese the ideal way to end a small plates excursion at Ansill. The Moncenisio, an Italian bleu, is served alongside a Jenga stack of crackers and baguette slices and a cube of ooey gooey honeycomb. With big names like Southwark and Gayle sharing the turf with Ansill, deciding where to eat in Queen Village is certainly a tough call. We suggest settling it with a walk-off.
Photo: Ansill

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