Starting tonight, happy hour gets the Chef Jason Cichonski treatment at his inventive American bar and restaurant Ela. Known for his boundary-pushing food, Chef Cichonski is doing Happy Hour His Way, challenging expectations on every level: unlike most restaurants, where early evening specials are relegated to weekdays, Ela will offer happy hour every Sunday, as well as Tuesday through Friday. Guests will enjoy an inspired menu of dishes that are only available from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., alongside affordable drink specials.
“There’s no rule that says happy hour snacks have to be boring, and there’s no rule that says you can’t have happy hour on a Sunday,” says Chef Cichonski. “And even if there were, I’d be ‘happy’ to break those rules in order to give my guests what they want: memorable food and inexpensive drinks at the end of a long day – or as an end to your Sunday funday.”
Rotating drink specials will include: $3 draught beer, beginning with local favorite Troeg’s Sunshine Pils; $5 wines, with a daily-changing white and red available; and $6 daily cocktail specials, such as Daisy, Hendrick’s gin, rhuby, cucumbers and lemon, as well as Last Chance to Lose Your Keys, tequila, rosemary, kaffir lime, St. Germaine and citruses.
Chef Cichonski’s happy hour menu will change frequently to reflect his latest inspirations. Dishes may include: a house-cured Pickle Plate, with everything from cauliflower florets to butter radishes preserved in-house and served alongside house-dried jerky; Bacon Preserved Sardines, marinated with grilled onions, honey and sherry vinegar, then lightly grilled and served in mason jars; Puffed Oyster Cracklins with “Old Bayo,” crunchy dehydrated-and-fried oysters with Old Bay mayonnaise that Chef Cichonski compares to “more addictive Cheetos”; Crispy Chicken “Chomps”, pieces of marinated chicken thighs breaded with spices and fried crispy; Tots His Way, hand-rolled potato gnocchi that are breaded and fried, then served alongside house-made hot sauce and “the sauce,” a creative concoction that combines lime, soy, mustard, roasted garlic and chopped, smoked pickles; and Soy Bourbon Burger, a nine-ounce house-ground sirloin patty with bourbon- and soy-glazed shitake mushrooms, aged Cabot cheddar, smoked pickles and a house-baked black sesame bun. Only 10 of these burgers will be available each day, exclusively during happy hour. Dishes will range in price from $6 to $14.
Ela is a serious-yet-comfortable restaurant with a menu that changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the season’s finest ingredients and Chef Cichonski’s creative and artful presentations. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig LaBan wrote in his glowing “Three Bells: Excellent” review that “few kitchens in town can match Ela’s food value-wise for pure excitement…from the first course to the last, the chef at Ela is hottest where it matters most,” while Philadelphia magazine’s Trey Popp called the restaurant “deliciously off-the-wall…completely worth it” for offering “a transporting peek inside this rising young chef’s head.”
Ela’s happy hour will be available every Sunday and Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. and Sunday until 10 p.m. Ela is closed on Mondays. For more information, please call (267) 687-8512 or visit www.elaphilly.com. The restaurant can also be followed on Twitter (@ElaPhilly) and on Facebook.