The Other Critics

At Ela, Jason Cichonski ‘Cooks Better Than He Looks’; Rotisseur Does Chicken ‘Very, Very Well’

• LaBan’s downgrading of Le Bec-Fin and its subsequent closing means we’re through the looking glass, people. Two weeks in a row, the Inky critic enthusiastically triple-dinged what just a few short years ago would’ve been considered unconventional restaurants. Last week it was Vedge, and this week it’s Ela, former Lacroix chef and Chip Roman protege Jason “I’m too sexy for this apron” Cichonski’s debut in Queen Village, whom Laban says “cooks even better than he looks.” Though he wonders aloud whether Cichonski has yet found “the perfect sustainable compromise between his haute desires and the neighborhood’s homier instincts,” he gushes over the chef’s oysters topped with a “dill pickle sponge,” and other modernist flourishes, like the tilefish prepared sous-vide that “seems almost tattooed with the exotic flavors.” “Misfires” include the complimenatry steamed buns that were “hardly worth the effort,” and a sweetbread appetizer that he describes as “an inelegant pile of Gen. Tso’s Thymus.” [Inquirer]

• Adam Erace checks out the Rittenhouse rotisserie Rotisseur, and notes that although it only “does one thing,” chicken, it does it “very, very well.” As far as sides go, he writes the mac and cheese and mashed sweet potatoes are “do not miss,” but the “well-seasoned” kale chips were “sturdier than in the past visits.” [Courier-Post]

• At Halal Express Cart on 13th Street, Midtown Lunch-ers order the lamb and fish over rice combo plate. The lamb “had nice grilled flavor” and the spicy tomato marinated fish (tilapia) “did not taste the slightest bit funky.” [Midtown Lunch]

At Ela, Jason Cichonski ‘Cooks Better Than He Looks’; Rotisseur Does