In mid-July, the team behind West Village trifecta Dell'Anima, L'Artusi, and Anfora, headed a ways east to open up Ellabess in the new Nolitan hotel with chef Troy Unruh. Initial commenters have complained about the loud-looking space and not so riveting menu, but early diners are offering some positive feedback. Now, to the early word:
The Good News: The initial Yelp response to Ellabess seems overwhelmingly positive, with much emphasis on the unique combination of flavors. Amy S. was a fan of conservative use of salt: "The chef is doing lots of surprising-yet-sense-making flavor pairings, none of them too salty (a BIG pet peeve). One corn fan thought the roasted kernels were overpowered by fennel/anise, but otherwise I loved it all. The space is great, maybe a little chi-chi, but the staff is friendly so it balances out." Erik S. gave the space props for its focus on "great American hits" loved the scallops: "Sea Diver Scallops with pickled asparagus and summer truffle...This was my favorite dish! The Scallops cooked perfectly, and was potato crusted. oooh so good!" [Yelp]
The Bad News: Though Shecky's liked the food, the nightlife blog gave a pretty biting assessment of Ellabess's attempt at simple decor: "Many of the issues with Ellabess can be traced back to its hotel-lobby locale, where minimalist pretension reigns supreme and character goes to die. It's furnished with the now-standard dark wooden tables, oddly collegiate paper lanterns (yawn) and low, carpeted ceilings (which help neither décor nor noise levels)." [Shecky's]
The Short But Sweet News: The one Eater commenter who has actually been and weighed in writes: "Ate there on Sunday, it was delicious. Fluke Ceviche and uni butter were highlights." [Eater Comments]
More Good News: Food blog Food Comas gives descriptions accompanying some great close-up food porn photos of several of Ellabess's dishes -- praising the creativity and simplicity of the flavors involved. They especially liked the salmon, saying: "This salmon was cooked I believe for 1-2 hours in its own fat and just and had an amazingly unique consistency. It was not flaky, as salmon usually is, but was almost the same texture as smoked salmon and retained its soft smooth flavor. The shitake mushrooms and blueberries added nice touches of texture and burst of flavor." [Food Comas]
The Rave:According to Tasting Table, Troy Unruh's transition from Italian at Dell'Anima to American cuisine could not be more unexpectedly graceful. Their favorite dish was the potato croquettes: "Still, our favorite dish at Ellabess might be the potato croquettes ($7), which are akin to a fried twice-baked potato. We started our meal with the impossibly light bites, gasping at the airy filling studded with bacon and chives. They were so flavorful and so reminiscent of Sunday home cooking, we considered ordering another round for dessert."
The Mixed Bag: A mixed Twitter response from initial social media-savvy diners. @ElenaFox enjoyed the blueberry salmon and Capris. @girluninterrupt posted a photo of the clam chowder on Foodspotting, noting "Interesting concept but to be frank needed an extra something." @mariesworld gave Ellabess a solid "Liked, but didn't love. The fluke app was amazing, the chicken was good." [Twitter]