The Queen Village corner tavern that once housed Judy's and Ansill has become a showcase for one of Philly's most exciting young cooks, Jason Cichonski. The ex-Lacroix chef, in partnership with Chip Roman (Blackfish, Mica), is spinning boundlessly creative whimsies with oysters, updated Viet snacks, and a hot cookie dough dessert that is obsession-worthy. Whether the ever-changing menu of fairly priced mid-sized plates can find a sustainable harmony between the chef's haute instincts and accessibility for a neighborhood crowd remains in question.
Oysters (with dill pickle "sponge;" with hop vinegar); tomato soup; salmon carpaccio; truffle banh cam; scallop "noodles"; Peking duck tortellini; duck with pretzel-spaetzle; short rib; skate; curried tilefish; hot chocolate chip cookie dough.
A small but well-chosen list of international wines available by the glass through Ela's large Cruvinet system, including intriguing choices from Oregon (Elk Cove pinot gris), the Loire (Joly chenin blanc and Domaine du Pas St. Martin Saumur cabernet franc); and Spain (Camparron tempranillo.) There are some elaborate cocktails with better names than balanced flavors ("Jude Law and a Semester Abroad"; "Last Chance to Lose Your Keys.") The craft beer selection is concise but has quality choices (Hennepin; Yards Love Stout; Unibroue La Fin du Monde.)
The ambient noise is a hefty 90 decibels, but decent table spacing allows for 86-decibel pockets where conversation is possible. (Ideal is 75 or less.)
Dinner Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, until 11 p.m. Bar menu available until midnight Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday; until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday.