Ella’s Restaurant Now Open for Dinner (Again)
On Wednesday, October 4, Ella’s officially opens the doors for dinner, in addition to their long-standing breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch service. Last night, my wife and I got friends (bless you!) to watch our daughter so we could be test-diners of Ella’s new dinner menu, offered by recent new owner Matt Skov. It was the second night of a three-night tryout for Ella’s, refining the details of dinner in the kitchen and front of house. (Full disclosure: I was a waiter at Ella’s through the 90′s). We attended the first seating at 6:15 P.M.
Ella’s has served dinner at various times in its 15-year history, dishing out high-quality, fresh, seasonal, affordable “neo-classical American cooking” by former owners Robert Merryman and chef Danny Wilser. After last night’s meal, it can be stated that Matt Skov has retained the quality and freshness that Ella’s regulars expect, and has importantly placed his own signature style on the dinner menu.
My wife and I shared the courses and were not let down by any of them. The menu items are separated by price ($5, 8, 12, 16). We started with the Roasted Sea Scallops with summer panzanella salad and the Fall Mushroom Soup, both priced at $5. We then ordered the Carmelized Onion Tart (&8) with bellweather farm ricotta, black mission figs, and baby arugula; the Butternut Squash Risotto ($12) with mustard greens, fall vegetable hash, and roasted garlic cream; and the Pork Two Ways ($16) twice-brined chop with herbs and served with pork belly n’beans, and grilled ratatouille. We finished off the meal with the ever-present Sourdough Chocolate Cake (with espresso buttercream) and a Warm Banana Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream. Duh-lishous!!
The menu will offer seasonal ingredients and also available regularly will be a cheeseburger, macaroni & cheese, chicken pot pie, and the famous chicken hash. I would suggest that the hot dog (one of the best grilled dogs in the city) be added to the dinner menu, as well, especially to those of us who will arrive with kids (when we can’t find a babysitter!).
The presentation and taste of each dish was superb, the flavors complementary and often subtle, and the only falters (remember, on a test night) was the string still attached to the chop (quickly remedied by the kitchen upon my remark to Mr. Skov) and lack of finer details by the competent service staff that would be particularly expected at even a casual dinner service (e.g., presetting of utensils, such as soup spoons and steak knives; clearing finished glasses and dishes more quickly)–all minor kinks ownership knows needs ironing out. Some more knowledge of the dishes and the bar selection by the service staff would be helpful, as well (and how about a better selection of single malt Scotch, please).
Not only a good neighborhood choice (in Laurel Heights at the corner of California and Presidio, across from the JCC and Laurel Motel), Ella’s is offering another reason besides top-notch breakfast and lunch–dinner–to make a trek across town.