If you’re a vegetarian or considering it as one of your New Years resolutions, I would highly suggest Ella Restaurant and Bar as your first choice during Dine Downtown week. In its 8th year, this event has many wonderful restaurants participating but none that focus entirely on pleasing the ever-challenging vegetarian, except Ella.
As a member of an all-Italian family who choose many years ago to become a vegetarian, I created a lot of grief and got a lot of questions implying “what are you doing!?” I’m happy to say I’ve been meat free most of my life. I love it and would never change it. But, you won’t see me preaching vegetarianism… except when given the opportunity to review the fabulous menu at Ella during Dine Downtown week.
Our very charming and accommodating waiter delivered the first course. I had the Nantes carrot soup and my dining partner had the Treviso greens. I’m not sure how to best describe the first course and I would say a picture is worth a thousand words. However, once our food arrived it looked so delicious we dug right in, forgetting the specific instructions to first take a picture of the food. Our bad…bad manners, bad etiquette, and too bad we can’t share the mouth-watering visuals of the first course. Nonetheless, I will do my best to share the details. The creamy, hearty carrot soup had a touch of vadouvan or French curry and was topped with melted shallots. It was absolute perfection. The salad consisted of brightly colored Treviso greens, with a slight bitter taste similar to a radicchio, balanced well with the sweet mandarin oranges and tarragon cream. Now, you understand why we began eating without taking the photo.
The next course got off to a much better start. Pictures first, consumption next. I had the cauliflower tagine with green olive, preserved lemon, and couscous. My dining partner had the pappardelle and poached egg. The cauliflower tagine was rich in flavor-African spices fused with cauliflower, lemon and vegetables layered over supple couscous to create this exotic vegetarian dish. The homemade pappardelle was melt in your mouth good. A perfect storm of deep flavors emerging from the mimolette cheese, roasted cabbage and truffle beurre fondue and topped with a soft poached egg.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, dessert arrived.
I had the seasonal Pavlova. For those of you who are not familiar with a Pavlova, this beautifully shaped meringue based dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, is as amazing to consume as it is to look at. With a sweet, amethyst colored huckleberry sauce and a creamy, marshmallow center there wasn’t much left but the spoon I ate it with. The carrot cheesecake with blood orange sauce was topped with giant size house made oats. This decadent cheesecake was smooth, creamy, and the most elegant way to end a meal.
Overall, this was an inventive vegetarian menu that is a way of life, celebrating vegetables and putting them at the forefront. Ella focuses on vegetables, grains, herbs and unique spices in a wonderful way that often isn’t found in more Dine Downtown menus. This was one fantastic vegetarian find that didn’t feel like an ‘add-on’ to the menu.
Valerie is DSP’s Business and Recruitment Manager who loves her veggies. She truly enjoyed Ella’s Dine Downtown menu and applauds them for their creativity. For more information on Dine Downtown visit our event page, like us on Facebook, or join in the twitter conversation, using the hashtag #dinedowntown.