Philadining Home

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pif night at Ansill

Update: Ansill has closed.  It has been replaced by Ela. 

There was much gnashing of teeth when chef David Ansill closed his tiny BYOB called Pif. It had been a reliable source of hearty, un-fussy French food, from garlicky escargots to pigs trotters to an inexplicably delicious steak.

The chef had opened a second place, Ansill at 3rd and Bainbridge streets, and chose to concentrate on that location, offering creative small-plates as well as a full bar. But responding to the almost immediate nostalgia for Pif, he's found a good compromise: Pif nights on sundays. He offers a traditional Pif menu, and even allows BYOB with no corkage.

We went recently and had:
Steamed Mussels

Escargots "au pif"

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Mixed greens with Duck Leg Confit

Pork Chops with White Bean Ragu

Quail with Port

Sweetbreads with Truffle Coulis

Chocolate Fondant


Chestnut Mousse

So, was it just like the old days? Not quite... The food was pretty good, we'd probably be impressed with it at any other place, but it didn't quite capture the intensity and transcendence of the food at Pif. The escargots were well-prepared, but the sauce was not as vividly flavored. Porkchops had good flavor, but seemed somehow pedestrian. I had a bit of sweetbreads that was quite nice, but another diner at our table was not pleased. My quails were a little overcooked, but were actually nonetheless quite delicious. In a nice twist at the end, all the desserts were excellent.

So, not bad but the dinner didn't quite capture that Pif magic. That said, we'll try again, and we'll encourage others to, it was close...

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