Peter Dissin's new Washington Square West seafood restaurant Pinefish opened with a chalkboard menu of bong-smoked oysters, chimmichurri'd whole fish, and sesame-crusted ahi tuna with foie gras — all inventions of David Ansill, who helped Dissin open Pinefish as a kitchen consultant. Now, he's full-time.
Ansill has a pretty lengthy resume in this town: after graduating from The Restaurant School in 1987, Ansill worked in some of Philly's most notable kitchens (Serrano's, The Bank, Treetops at The Rittenhouse Hotel) before partnering with Stephen Starr to open his the restaurant mogul's first restaurant: The Continental. He quickly left the Old City martini bar ("I had to get the fuck out of there, the kitchen was run so damn poorly.") for Lucy's Hat Shop. Then he opened his own place: Pif, an extremely successful BYOB in Bella Vista (now Bibou) that served French peasant food. After that: Ansill Food + Wine, an eponymous restaurant on 3rd and Bainbridge Streets (now Ela).
But then, Pif and Ansill closed, and he laid low at Ladder 15 before deciding to move to Jamaica. When he returned, he took over Northern Liberties tapas restaurant Bar Ferdinand, then co-cheffed at Good King Tavern after Paul Lyons's departure. And now he's back down to one kitchen: Pinefish's.
"The [opening] menu was 85% his to begin with," said Dissin. Now, he'll just be at the restaurant more often.