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Posted by JJSchnobrich on 04/22/2012
I am really not sure how a dining experience can get much better than this. Ela is a trendy little corner spot in Queen Village. It look great. Simple lines, great music, wonderful lighting. The staff is urban and cool. It just feels like a space that you want to be in. The bar is great, friendly and they can make whatever you want. The wait staff is cool and hip, but friendly and relaxed. They love Ela, (you can just tell), they love talking food and don't mind offering a suggestion. They have a lot of pride of what is coming out of the kitchen and love serving it. Jason Cichonski and his crew are the next generation of great chefs. You feel like you are in the presence of greatness and you will have the chance to some day say "I use to eat at Jason's first restaurant, way before he was SO famous!" Some of the foods that they do, you will just ask "How did they think of this?" The menu is small, keeping it simple, perfect and fresh. The kitchen for sure knows what they are doing and how to do it. Always go with the scallop noodles. This is one of Jason's creations and is outrageously good. Rather than a pasta noodle, the noodles are made from scallops. They dress it differently during the year, but my favorite is the Thai version. They are also known for their whipped foie gras. So light and fluffy it almost feels like a dessert. Nobody I know as ever had a bad bite at Ela. It's chef thinks outside the box and you understand how the foodie world does indeed have it geniuses and with out question Jason is one of the rising stars in the U.S. food world - the next generation of greatness in food.
Posted by Marcia S on 12/31/2011
For the Center City-bound patrons of the food of Chef Jason Cichonski – our wait is over. He is at the helm of the kitchen of Ela which is located at 3rd and Bainbridge. I ate there this week with high expectations and was not disappointed. The space is an industrial-lite bistro and the rubbed honey of the old wooden floors warms the casual atmosphere. I had the hamachi first plate and the fois gras gingerbread for my second plate. Pure Cichonski in both conception and execution. The hamachi is pristinely fresh with sweet apple puree and both fresh and vinegar-pickled apple straws – but it is the horseradish granita that raises this familiar starter to new and modern levels. There is a fleetingly icy hot moment mid bite that reminds me why I love this chef’s food so much. In one dish: sweet/sour, soft/crunchy, cool and hot and everything makes sense for the flavor profile of tastes. The fois gras mousse is served with gingerbread powder - again textures which contribute to the tasting experience. My third plate was a Lancaster chicken dish with pumpkin seeds prepared to the consistency of a risotto. In this dish, Chef Cichonski wisely exercised restraint and allowed this locally purveyed protein to shine by preparing it perfectly – juicy with a crispy skin. Chef Cichonski’s dishes are so well conceived and executed – I urge you to try each component separately before composing them into perfect bites on your fork. Everyone in your party will love the food at Ela – and those who know great cuisine will talk about it for days. The value for the quality is incredible and makes Ela’s food accessible. The bar was full by 6:30 – 7:00 PM on Wednesday evening - - because Ela’s bar snacks are phenomenal and provide the opportunity to sample Chef Cichonski’s food at a great price point. Bet you stay for dinner!