Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ella Again

1131 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Sacramento Bee has brief blurb about Ella in their dining section:

"In the heart of Downtown, the family behind The Kitchen and Selland's Market CafĂ© brings you the region’s most anticipated new dining destination, Ella Dining Room and Bar. Ella offers warm, welcoming ambiance in an inspiring space that evokes effortless European rustic luxury. Our design team from Amsterdam has created an environment that is visionary yet timeless, dramatic yet comforting. Ella brings together the finest quality ingredients from this bountiful region and all over the world to create authentic and honest fine food that will nourish body and soul. Celebrated Chef and Owner Randall Selland welcomes you into his home, where you can savor the joys of friends, family, and great food and wine. Service is earnest, gracious and refined. Ella has signature handcrafted cocktails, an eclectic and impressive wine list, and a fresh seafood Raw Bar. Perfect for business lunches, celebrations, and everyday. Walking distance from Convention Center, Capital, theaters, and hotels.

Executive chef: Randall Selland"

The concept is the sharing of small and large plates family style so everyone gets to taste a wider array of the deliciousness. There are so many wonderful things on the menu it is tough to know where to start, and a first time diner should be willing to take some guidance from their server.

The Friday after Thanksgiving we decided to reward my hard-working, hard-cooking mom for all her efforts by treating her to Ella.

Now among her peers, Ella has a reputation for poor service for some reason. Most of her co-workers go here for lunch on a work day, her office being just a few blocks away, walking distance really. We, however, had an amazing experience here last spring on the night of out 10th anniversary. I have been dying to go back ever since. Fortunately for us, who should greet us as we walked in the door but Steven our waiter from last time. One of the best servers I have had the pleasure of spending time with. He treated us well and made sure we had everything we needed, that our courses came in the right order and the food pairings were well balanced.

We started with the oysters! D, the oyster newb, has fallen head first down the oyster rabbit hole. He now wants to start with oysters everywhere we go. Tonight Ella was featuring Beau Soleil, tiny beautiful oysters, and even Mom tucked into to a few of these. I am so proud.

We sipped at a half bottle of pink champagne with our oysters and starters. Nicolas Feuillate Brut Rose, one of my faves.

I love the attention to detail at Ella. From the pics it seems really fancy-pants. But you would be equally comfy here in jeans and a nice top as you would be hosting a formal event.

Next out were the meatballs. Probably my favorite dish of the night. Beef, pork and prosciutto meatballs with garlic herbs and crushed rec chili pepper flakes.

The perfect balance of meats, herbs and spices with just a little tomato sauce to add some wetness to the texture. These were roasted in the oven to give the balls a nice crustiness, and a sheep's milk ricotta balanced out the acidity of the sauce.

Next we shared a pasta course. Typically D prefers a red sauce, but Steven heartily endorsed the papparedelle with a poached egg, crispy prosciutto and a lemon butter sauce.

He hand mixed the wide housemade ribbons right at out table.

This was truly sublime. Buttery and rich, yet split between three people did not overpower the senses nor our appetites.


For the next course we shared a short rib on pureed sweet potatoes.

I always love a short rib, and I loved sharing this one with three people so we had plenty of room to indulge in the chef's veggies. Steven suggested we pair the luxurious fattiness of the meat and the richness of the sweet potatoes with the bitterness of a broccoli rabe.

Again, we taste crushed red chili pepper flakes, garlic and Parmesan cheese, a classic preparation.

After we finished the champagne we moved onto a Pinot Noir. The boys chose one from the Santa Lucia Highlands that was perfect. With such a run on overly cold red wines recently, it was refreshing to be served a red wine at the correct just slightly cooler than room temperature temp.

I asked for it to be decanted because I am just that god damned fancy.


The last course of the evening was a cod special. I think that is what it was, and since it is not on the menu I cannot reference. However, it was stuffed with crab and accompanied by a few hearty gnocchi.

Just beautiful.

And the last veg was Brussels sprouts with bacon. Oven roasted to perfection, soft on the outside with maybe a trace of caramelization, and firm on the inside.

I have become fascinated with taking pics of bathrooms. I think this started with the bathroom pics last summer in the chaotic Cha Cha room in Echo-Lake.

I have even considered starting a second blog, a bathroom blog.

I toy with the idea.

We had a lovely time and a perfect end to a perfect holiday. Thank you Steve and Ella.

Ella Dining Room and Bar on Urbanspoon


Loving Annie said...

Beautiful oysters, beautiful plates and incredible pasta ! Oh my... Lucky you !

Chef Pajo said...

Nice review of Ella. I too find it to be an excellent dining experience for our little unsophisticated Sacramento dining scene. Check out my blog on all things fine dining..

Food, she thought. said...

Annie: It was gorgeous! Holidays are the time for putting good things in my belly!!!

Chef Pajo: I am going to check out your blog tomorrow! And I don't find Sacramento dining to be unsophisticated in the least. Quite the contrary!