Sunday, December 22, 2019


Ellē  (pronounced "ell-ee") is a cafe, bakery, restaurant, and bar. During the day, they are counter service, serving coffee and rotating baked goods, sandwiches, and pastries. At night, they turn into a full service restaurant and bar.  Closest Metro is Columbia Heights.

After reading so much buzz about this cafe-by-day, restaurant-by-night spot, we made the trek up for our early Christmas dinner.  Seating is limited, so reservations are highly recommended.  We ordered a bottle of 2014 Sikele Nero D'Avola from Sicily, Italy.  It was earthy and dry with leather notes and subtle spice from black pepper.

To start, we shared the Chicken Liver Mousse with charred scallion and tamari sauce served with grilled bread.  The mousse was on the watery side, and had a pucker in each bite from the mustard grains.  The bread had a nice crisp crust and chewy inside.

We also tried the special of the day - Smoked Oyster Toast with gigante beans, sardines, paprika aioli, tomatillo mignonette, cilantro, and pickled red onion.  There was a lot of flavor in each bite, but barely any oyster.  The sardines were prominent leaving quite a fishy taste in my mouth afterwards.

For my main dish, I chose the Seafood Stew with scallops, mussels, gigante beans, and sourdough in a paprika broth with chermoula.  It was too salty, and the ingredients too similar to the last dish. The portion was also on the small side for the $31.

Keith enjoyed the Pork Milanese - a pounded and breaded pork cutlet topped with pickled egg, anchoïade, and winter greens.  The salad on top was like a fancy Caesar, and the cutlet was tender and had good flavor.  For $38, this was a large portion.

Being a bakery by day, we knew we wanted to try dessert.  We shared the Citrus Savarin - citrus brioche cake, almond liqueur, citrus mousse, and fresh orange segments.  The flavors were up my alley, but I thought the cake to be a bit dry.

I was excited to order the Honey Goat Cheesecake, as I saw slices (of what I thought was it) in the bakery case as we entered, but we were presented with something quite different.  The crust was a gingerbread crumble and the top was a cranberry apple gelée, giving a very holiday feel.  The cheesecake itself was thick and creamy with a wonderful subtle tang from the goat cheese.

All in all we had a decent dinner, but we were left a little underwhelmed.  With a small menu, it seemed they had limited ingredients and repeated them in multiple dishes; we wish there was a bit more variety.  Service was polite and courteous but a little cold.  Prices were on the higher side, and with the location not that walkable from a metro station, Uber or Lyft is recommended.

Total Rating: 3.43
Food: 3.5, Price: 3, Service: 4, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 4

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