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Ladder 15 + David Ansill = ???

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Michael Klein reports that David Ansill will be taking over the kitchen at Ladder 15:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/th...

That can only be good news.

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  1. Great news!

    1. Please let there be bone marrow!

      1. I'm skeptical about this. Mike Stollenwerk (Little Fish, fish.) did the original menu. I got to taste the food there before it opened and it was good, but the kitchen couldn't execute it consistently when they were actually in business.

        Maybe if Ansill is actually running the show, he can pump out the goods. But the clientele there is not there for the food, so unless that changes, it will not be a pleasant place to dine and I can see the kitchen losing motivation.

        Bad move for Ansill IMO. If he landed at Slate or somewhere where the crowd wasn't meatheads and sorority girls (or their grown up versions that assume the persona on the weekend) that would be much better for him and those of us that want to chow.

        5 Replies
        1. re: barryg

          Well right now he's not cooking anywhere, so I'll take Ladder 15 over nothing..

          1. re: Buckethead

            agreed

          2. re: barryg

            From what it sounds like, they're doing a full overhaul so maybe they are actively trying to change clientele. Otherwise, I agree with your hesitation...

            1. re: barryg

              Ansill is consulting on the new menu and will take over as executive chef, on-site, in four to six weeks.

              I believe Ladder 15 is moving in a new direction and trying to appeal to the crowd that appreciates good food. They are also overhauling their entire beverage program (beer list, a new cocktail menu, and wine) so perhaps that will broaden their appeal to the non-frat crowd.

              I, for one, will be going to see what Ansill is turning out. He's one of my favorite chefs and I think we should give Ladder 15 a chance.

              1. re: felicia.dambrosio

                ditto.

            2. Grub Street has an interview with Ansill about his new job (and his old one):

              http://philadelphia.grubstreet.com/20...

              1. I ate at the bar at Ladder 15 a few days ago, it was very good. I got the feeling that David Ansill hasn't gotten around to putting his stamp on the entire menu just yet, but the things I had that were identifiably his (curried lamb empanadas and the marrow-topped mushroom burger) were great. Actually there was only one thing I was a little underwhelmed by, the polenta fries. I read this week that they are doing some kind of party/dinner on March 16 with free samples of some of the new dishes.

                I never set foot in Ladder 15 before, so I don't know what the beer list looked like before, but there were quite a few good beers on draft when I went: Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, Leffe Blonde, Dogfish India Brown Ale, Victory Prima Pils.

                It does seem like they are trying to change the image of the place, like I said I had never been there before but when we sat down at the bar I made a point of telling them that we were there because of David's arrival, and the bartender and manager both talked to us at length about the new menu.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Buckethead

                  That's awesome news! The beer list has actually always been semi-decent there, but I too share concerns about the atmosphere b/c the last few times I've been to Ladder 15 it has been a bit of a sh*tshow in terms of attracting the 24 year-old frat crowd and has had an odd "club" vibe to it. It could be those cocktails (IMO places that serve cotton candy martinis are destined to attract young'uns)...are they still on the menu?

                  But I love Ansill's food and hope that it brings in folks who appreciate it and are there to eat, drink nice beer + wine and chill rather than the pick-up scene it's become.

                2. I've been to Ladder 15 a few times since David Ansill took over the kitchen, and last night I went for their Tuesday night prix-fixe. $20 gets you four (!) courses. You choose between two dishes for two of the courses, two of the courses are set (one is dessert). The menu I had is here: http://www.ladder15philly.com/pdf/men...

                  For $20, it was a steal. A single entree at most other decent restaurants will cost you that, and all of the four courses were good. The fennel and blood orange salad was excellent and the escargot fettucine was a very nice surprise (I wasn't expecting a whole lot based on the menu description but it was one of our favorites). Even the dessert was worthwhile. I'm not a fan of the atmosphere there but on a Tuesday night it was fine, and again, twenty bucks for four courses (and they're all good!) is an unbelievable value. It's not going to make me miss Ansill (the restaurant) any less, but if you are a fan of it like I was and for some reason you haven't been to Ladder 15 yet, I'd go get the Tuesday prix-fixe one of these weeks.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Buckethead

                    Just ate there tonight, and it was very good - venison plate, grilled octopus, lamb empanadas, beet salad, all excellent.
                    once i saw 'polenta fries' on the menu i knew i wanted to eat there but actually, they were the weakest thing we ordered. the fries were good, the marinara and cheese just made them totally underwhelming. but other than that... yeah, really pleased with it. might be the best grilled octopus i've had.

                    as for the frat boys? gf thinks it's the big open space in front of the bar, with no tables - just sort of attracts frat boys like moths to a flame. i'd have never thought of it but i do think she's right.

                    anyway, still enjoyed the meal - we knew what we were getting into going there on a friday night, still well worth it.
                    -charles