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Very nice early dinner at bar Ferdinand

  • m

We like Bar Ferdinand and this evening(late afternoon), we were there for drinks and food. David Ansill has started adding specials of his design, so there was a great shrimp, artichoke, onion salad with very thin slices of dried tuna, salad. I've forgotten the sauce, sorry, but it was imaginative and delicious. And some good bacalao croquetas. We had a very good time, nice service, great sherry, wine and beer. The other Tapas we ordered from the menu: pan tomate; duck hearts; chicken livers with bacon and caramlized onions; assorted vegetables with romescu sauce(really yummy, veg perfectly cooked, but if you order, the sauce is at the bottom of the generous pile of veg, so be sure to unearth it when you start to eat). We ate every scrap, and then Ansill sent out a couple of comps, a great squid with chorizo and bits of red pepper, and finally a blood orange and rosemary sorbet, the sort of mouth experience where you taste a sequence of flavors rather than an amalgam. My husband thought it was too sweet, but I think he couldn't rise to the challenge--we were too full. But still lovely to try it.

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  1. Has anyone else been to Bar Ferdinand since David Ansill took over? I was thinking of checking it out in the near future, just wondering if he's gotten around to putting his stamp on the regular menu. Their website makes no mention of his presence, they still list James Howard as the chef.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Knowing David he may consult and be in and out of there before it even makes sense to change the website........

      1. re: cwdonald

        Have to agree David will just touch a few things on the menu, going this Saturday, I'll see if there are any different items on the menu

        1. re: cwdonald

          Why? He was at Ladder 15 for years.

          1. re: Buckethead

            Its a fair point, though you will have to admit there are many other well known chef's who consult with restaurants on menus, or are named executive chefs at a place as an interlude between one finished project and the beginning of another.

            So, I hope I am right, not because I think David is fleeting, but rather because he will have the opportunity to run his own restaurant again, in Philadelphia. And if I were to wish there were one place he would go in Philadelphia it would be Fork.. he would be a worthy person to follow Terence Feury.

            1. re: cwdonald

              That's an interesting thought. Also, he would be right across the street from Lucy's Hat Shop, where he cooked years ago.

              1. re: JanR

                Well, I think that would be terrific, because I live near Fork. I'd always wished we had been able to dine at Ansill more often, but it was a little too 'far' away to be a regular place for us.

                It's so bizarre to imagine that Lucy's Hat Shop used to serve actual food, cooked by David Ansill, no less.

                1. re: gina

                  This is what I always said about that 3rd & Bainbridge location... it just feels far "far" from anywhere else in Center City. And most people who would eat at Ansill (or Ela for that matter) are not the type to want to cross South St on a weekend night.

          2. re: cwdonald

            They've clearly stated that he won't touch the menu at all for a while, then bring his own thing in gradually.

            Not sure what warrants the snarkiness considering that he's really only been in 3 restaurants in the last 10 years, his Jamaica excursion excluded.

            1. re: Boognish

              Yes, and two of the three were his. I hated to see Pif go but it is common for a chef to move on from a BYOB to a place with a liquor license. Wish David could have kept both and that both remained successful.

              1. re: JanR

                Absolutely. I took my now-wife to our first date at Pif (and later our wedding dinner was at Bibou). We love David's cooking, but coming from West Philly, it was just a little too far to frequent regularly. It's a real shame that it didn't work out.

                That said, fingers crossed that he can put his own imprimatur on their menu.

        2. I was at Bar Ferdinand over the weekend and also had a very good meal. I asked the server about the menu and when it might change, he said Ansill is working out new dishes as specials and then once they have enough dishes that are good enough, they'll be overhauling the menu. There were 5 specials the night I went, we ordered them all, and they were all very good: bacalao croquettes, cold marinated shrimp, a coco flatbread dish topped with brisket and a few other things (really liked that one, the flatbread was excellent and the brisket was nicely crisped, much better than the huaraches you get at Garces' places), fried sardines, and a roasted rabbit dish with great crispy skin. I hadn't been to Bar Ferdinand in years but I will definitely be back sooner rather than later, even though our service was not that great.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Buckethead

            Thanks for the great report. How were the croquette? That sounds like a very classic dish, similar to dishes I have had in Lisbon.

            1. re: cwdonald

              It wasn't my favorite dish of the night, but it was done well: not greasy, lots of cod inside with a nice dressing holding it together. The brisket coco flatbread and the rabbit were both really excellent though.

              1. re: Buckethead

                FYI: the flatbread in question is called a coca not a coco. Not that it really matters.

                1. re: caganer

                  Good foobooz story about how Ansil is helping freshen up the menu...

                  http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/2012/...

          2. I was back at Bar Ferdinand last night for the first Thursday night tasting menu (http://philly.eater.com/archives/2012...). Long story short, it was an incredible value at $40 for the 8-course meal and $20 extra for 4 very good wine pairings to go with it. The 8 courses were all small but frankly for $5 per course they were bigger than I would have expected and the quality was ridiculously good. Ditto the wines at $5/glass, generous pours for the price and a couple really great pairings (Manzanilla La Cigarrera sherry with the gazpacho was my favorite). A few dishes stood out: a fried green tomato on top of a chorizo vinaigrette, a sliced tomato with fried parsley and mint, and grilled rouget with tomato broth, but all the courses were very good.

            Like the tasting menus Ansill used to do at Ladder 15, which IIRC were also $5/course, it was a fantastic bargain and I'm hoping to go back soon. Our server said that next week's menu will be based on olives.

            I did take a look at the regular menu also and some of the dishes I had as specials on my earlier visit have made their way onto the regular menu.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Buckethead

              Do you know if you are required for the whole table to do the tasting menu? Could a person who does not eat pork do this menu? I assume the regular menu is available on Thursdays? Sounds like Bar Ferdinand is really stepping up the quality.

              1. re: cwdonald

                The regular menu was available as well as the tasting menu, we were all there for the tasting menu so I don't know whether the whole table has to do it but I don' t think so. This particular one had a few dishes with pork in them (chorizo in one, pork belly in another, jamon serrano in another). The menu was themed around one ingredient (tomatoes), next week it's olives, so the dishes will presumably be totally different week to week.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  do you need reservations for the thursday tastings?

                  1. re: Bigley9

                    We made a reservation but didn't end up needing one, we were in the back dining room and it was mostly empty.

            2. OK went on a date there last weekend. It was a Sunday night place wasn't busy around 7 pm. Got seated outside which was a +. Forgot to ask bout new chef . I was too into my date . Order the heirloom tomato special which was tasty . Forgot how it was prepared. Tomatoes tasted so pure . Ordered the veggie special roasted corn over truffle relish . Divine really , always order the manchego fritter 2 of them. Did the skirt steak with egg & truffle always a winner.Shrimp in garlic & olive oil. & pitcher of sangria .

              1. Grub Street has the next 3 week's worth of Bar Ferdinand Thursday tasting menus, I could see myself eating all of them:

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

                Chef's Tasting Menu for Thursday, August 9
                Featuring the Jamon (ham
                )Offered Thursdays from 5 - 11pm; $40 per person (plus tax and gratuity)
                1st Course
                Trio of jamon…
                Serrano, marcona almonds
                Iberico, pickled vegetables
                Mangalica, stone fruits

                2nd Course
                Jamon croquette

                3rd Course
                Pork terrine, sangria jelly

                4th Course
                Jamon stuffed mussels, sherry vinegar

                5th Course
                Greens, potatoes, jamon, quail egg

                6th Course
                Grilled swordfish olive oil and jamon smashed potatoes

                7th Course
                Albondigas tomato, jamon broth

                8th Course
                ~ Dessert ~

                Subject to change, based on available ingredients.

                __________________________________________________________

                Chef's Tasting Menu for Thursday, August 16
                Featuring the Mariscos (shell fish)
                Offered Thursdays from 5 - 11pm; $40 per person (plus tax and gratuity)

                1st Course
                Crab croquette, lobster roe aioli

                2nd Course
                Salpicon of razor clams

                3rd Course
                Oil poached shrimp, crispy baby artichokes

                4th Course
                Grilled cigales, fennel and saffron

                5th Course
                Roasted mussels, orange and rosemary

                6th Course
                Scallop and clams, chorizo and squid ink

                7th Course
                Zarzuela

                8th Course
                ~ Dessert ~

                Subject to change, based on available ingredients.

                __________________________________________________________

                Chef's Tasting Menu for Thursday, August 23
                Featuring the Asado (roasted)
                Offered Thursdays from 5 - 11pm; $40 per person (plus tax and gratuity)

                1st Course
                Roasted oyster, pineapple

                2nd Course
                Roasted baby vegetables, pimento oil

                3rd Course
                Stuffed roasted piquillo pepper, goat cheese and hazelnuts

                4th Course
                Roasted scallop, "crudo" charred melon

                5th Course
                Roasted cod, heirloom tomatoes, olives

                6th Course
                Chorizo roasted in Rioja

                7th Course
                Slow roasted lamb shoulder

                8th Course
                ~ Dessert ~

                Subject to change, based on available ingredients.

                1. Ate here last night and really appreciated that not everyone at the table was obligated to order the tasting menu (jamon). My partner and I were able to order 1 tasting menu as well as a few other classics. Having the side by side, it was very clear that Ansill's tasting dishes were more elevated, thoughtful and light in comparison to the more rustic and a little clunky menu options. We really enjoyed the jamon menu - the only miss was the frisee salad which was overwhelmed by the balsamic dressing. The dessert ended up being a bright lemon curd and butter cookie which was a nice finish to the meal. The only other item we truly didn't enjoy was our server's recommendation of the monkfish and pork belly skewer (menu item). The pork belly was not seasoned at all and just tasted like bland fat (I didn't finish mine) and the monkfish seemed undersalted as well, which the roasted lemon couldn't really fix.

                  Our service, on the other hand, was pretty bad. The restaurant was populated but wasn't super busy, so I'm not really sure why we were so neglected by our server. As courses were delivered to the table, they were simply dropped off, little to no explanation of the dish or ingredients, unlike the server working the table next to us. We actually were missing one of the tasting courses entirely and had to flag our server down to ask about it. Took forever to have anyone other than a busboy come to check on us so we didn't get to order a drink until 3/4 of the way through the meal. All in all, if one of the Thursday tasting menus grabs your eye, go for it. $40 is a great deal for the quality of the food and a great way to taste some of Ansill's influence but still get some of your old favorites.

                  1. We also had a nice and fairly early (6:30) dinner at BF on Friday.
                    Food was very good, though I wouldn't put it up with Amada.
                    Service was attentive, polite and all that - the one qualm was that we ordered 5 items (1 cold 4 hot). The cold one came out very quickly, on its own; then w/in 10 minutes (probably less) all of the dishes were on the table at once. It hadn't occurred to me to ask them to pace things *slower* but I would have appreciated the dinner more, I think, if we'd had more time w/each dish separately.
                    It's a place I'd go back to if someone else proposed it, and I'd look forward to it, but since we get to eat out rarely enough as it is, a 2nd visit it pretty low on our list now. Other things to discover.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bob Loblaw

                      What particular dishes did you have? Anything stand out?

                      1. re: cwdonald

                        we had both shrimp dishes we saw - cold one was excellent. hot one was weaker, and - uhm, 'oily'? I mean, it's kind of beyond that, and intentionally so - it's like hot olive oil as soup broth. Didn't like it as much. I imagine that if we'd had a larger party and more bread for dipping, it woudl have been a bigger hit.
                        there was a special chorizo flatbread that, along w/ the cold shrimp, was probably my favorite. also liked the duck sliders a lot.
                        we also got the rabbit leg, which i liked less but my wife liked a lot.

                    2. I was back here again for the Thursday night tasting menu (shellfish), unfortunately it wasn't nearly as good as the first one (tomatoes). I think it was due to the ingredients and their cost: an 8-course shellfish dinner (actually 7 courses, 1 is dessert) for $5/course has to make some sacrifices and in this case it was a scallop dish that I'm pretty sure was actually a "scallop" dish and a clam dish with the meat of one clam in it. The dishes with cheaper ingredients were much better, I loved the roasted mussel dish, the poached shrimp one was pretty good, and while the clam dish I mentioned did just have one clam in it, it was topped with Ansill's semi-famous pig trotter croquette/fritter. The wine pairings were as good as the first time, there were two very good pairings (the muscatel with dessert, especially) and some Spanish wines I've never had before. I'll definitely return for more of these dinners in the future but I'll probably skip ones that rely on expensive ingredients.

                      1. Grub Street has another few weeks worth of Thursday night tasting menus, it looks like they're changing the concept a bit from tasting menus focusing on one ingredient to a nose-to-tail menu from one animal: http://philadelphia.grubstreet.com/20...

                        I like the looks of these:

                        Sample: Chef's Tasting Menu for Thursday, October 4
                        Nose to Tail: The Pig
                        Offered Thursdays from 4:30 - 11pm; $40 per person (plus tax and gratuity
                        )1st Course
                        Warm Pig Head

                        2nd Course
                        Pig Ear salad w/ almonds & green beans

                        3rd Course
                        Crispy Pigs Feet w/ purple mustard

                        4th Course
                        Frisee Salad w/ house smoked bacon & quail egg

                        5th Course
                        Pork Belly w/ apples & roasted onion puree

                        6th Course
                        Confit Pork Cheek w/ white beans

                        7th Course
                        Pork Shank
                        8th Course
                        ~ Dessert ~

                        Subject to change, based on available ingredients.

                        __________________________________________________________

                        Sample: Chef's Tasting Menu for Thursday, October 11
                        Nose to Tail: The Lamb
                        Offered Thursdays from 5 - 11pm; $40 per person (plus tax and gratuity)

                        1st Course
                        Crispy Lamb Tongue w/ chick peas & mint

                        2nd Course
                        Lamb Sweet Bread w/mushrooms

                        3rd Course
                        Lamb Heart w/ bacon pincho & lentos

                        4th Course
                        Lamb Belly w/ Lambs Lettuce

                        5th Course
                        Merguez sausage salsa verde

                        6th Course
                        Scallop and clams, chorizo and squid ink

                        7th Course
                        Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb w/ red wine & lamb jus

                        8th Course
                        ~ Dessert ~

                        Subject to change, based on available ingredients.

                        __________________________________________________________

                        Sample: Chef's Tasting Menu for Thursday, October 18
                        Nose To Tail: The Cow
                        Offered Thursdays from 5 - 11pm; $40 per person (plus tax and gratuity)

                        1st Course
                        Bone Marrow Tosta (beef crispy parsley)

                        2nd Course
                        Beef Carpaccio baby arugula

                        3rd Course
                        Chilled Beef Tongue w/ apples & mustard oil

                        4th Course
                        Beef Tender Salad paprika & spiced almonds

                        5th Course
                        Beef Heart & Chorizo in Red wine

                        6th Course
                        Confit Beef Cheeks w/ pickled red onions

                        7th Course
                        Oxtail Conserve w/ sherry braised raisins

                        8th Course
                        ~ Dessert ~

                        1. I was there on sept 6 for the Egg dinner which was good they said then that there was a vegetable dinner and a fish dinner in the next two weeks, sorry I don't remember the order (as one has already passed)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Bigley9

                            Thanks for the information. Really wish they would put it on their website rather than puting it out on food media like grubhub.

                            1. re: cwdonald

                              I agree - we couldn't find out what our ingredient was going to be until we got there!