After sampling wines at our wine class Friday, my companion and I decided to continue sampling - but with food. We dropped into the newly opened Ansill on the corner of Bainbridge and Third in Philly.
Ansill occupies the space where Judy’s used to sit for 30 years.Judy’s closed last year to the sorrow of die-hard, neighborhood regulars. I’ve been waiting to see what would take its place. Ansill opened a couple of weeks ago, but we waited a while to let them get the kinks out.
Ansill reworked the interior into a warm and elegant space with a mahogany bar, soft lighting, and warm earthy walls - the perfect atmosphere to continue our wine drinking. They offer wine by the glass, bottle, or carafe. You may also bring your own bottle, but a $15 corking charge applies. The wine list was broken down into red and white, with fruiter and lighter wines at the top and heavier wines at the bottom.
Ansill serves small plates with most ranging from $3 to $10. The most expensive plate is Venison Loin ($17). The menu’s offerings are broken down into: Raw and Cured, Eggs and Roe, Meat and Fish, Hot and Cold Vegetables, Cheeses and Charcuterie, and Breads and Sandwiches.
The descriptions of the dishes are minimal, with only one or two ingredients listed. I needed the help of our waitress to determine what was vegetarian. She was very helpful, as were the cooks who deleted ingredients from dishes to accommodate me.
We also had wonderful, warm fingerling potatoes with onions ($6). The potatoes were cooked without the veal stock for me, but they still had complex flavors. I was excited about the spaetzle with spinach and mustard ($5), but found it a little oily and the mustard bitter.
My fish-eating companion tried the Spanish mackerel ceviche with radish and mint ($6). He said it was good, but craved the more traditional cilantro and a power-punch of lime, which this dish was lacking.
All of the cheese plates looked good, so we let our waitress decide for us. She rightly chose the taleggio cheese plate with sour cherry compote ($5). Taleggio is a soft, stinky, Italian cheese and went well with the sour and sweet cherries. There could have been a few more slices of bread, as we ran out of bread and still had cheese and compote left. In general, we found most of their plates on the small side. I know the food is served in the tapas style, but these plates were tiny.
The owner’s wife makes all the desserts. My companion had the rice pudding ($6), which he cleaned right up. I had the chocolate cake with a mouse-like top layer ($6). The cake was topped with lime wedges and surrounded by a lime sauce. I took a bite, closed my eyes, pushed all thoughts away and had a little orgasm. The chocolate was bitter, yet sweet, and the tangy lime made my mouth water. Perfecto. I am always torn between chocolate and key lime on dessert menus, and this combined my two favorite dessert loves.
I will definitely go back to Ansill, even though the plates were a little small. “Small plates” vary from one place to the next, so it’s hard to know how many to order. Be sure to order many plates when you go to Ansill. You’ll sample many flavors and find a favorite. With sampling, you can have it all. I’m currently into sampling.
Ansill, 627 S. Third St., Philadelphia, 19147