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Ella's Folk Art Cafe in Tampa


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Restaurants & Bars 11

Ella's Folk Art Cafe in Tampa

Manderley | Aug 1, 2010 10:34 PM

Finally made it to Ella's. Am I the only one who writes a great review in my head during the meal...and by the time I get home it's all just a blur??

Okay first, loved the cool vibe. Loved the multi colored bowling balls lining the walkway. We arrived around 6:30 pm on a Sunday, there were people sitting at tables outdoors. Sign at the door says Please Wait to be Seated, next to a podium. So we stood there. And stood there. And stood there. Finally we just opened the door and went in.

The place was crowded, the music was loud. Over to a very bored looking young girl sitting by the cash register. Excuse me? Hello? Could we have a table please? She picks up menus and off we go, without asking if we wanted upstairs, outside, whatever. Just lead us to a flight of stairs and went up. I'm disabled and don't really do stairs...but she was already at the top and with the music I figured she'd never hear me anyway. So I slowly dragged my old butt upstairs. Great high-top table overlooking the first floor, great view of the band (who were excellent and vaguely Beatles-esque).

Great big room, visually intriguing, very cool vibe to the place. I ordered a Stella while perusing the menu. Hard to make a choice.

The Dirty South Rap caught my eye: garlic marinated grilled veggies with goat cheese and red pepper chipotle hummus. In hindsight, wish i had ordered that! I also wanted to try The Roots: oven roasted sweet potato, shallot, and pearl onion salad tossed with chopped pecans, mild chilies and herbs, with balsamic reduction and feta.

The waiter (a real cutie with a nice smile) informed us that they were out of so many items....the burger, both kinds of stuffed peppers, BBQ pork, BBQ beef, and a few other items.

My friend is gluten intolerant (the disease du jour, it's so big these days), and she asked the water if there was any kind of wheat in the BBQ sauce. I explained she was gluten intolerant and he went to the kitchen to ask. He returned to say yes, there's a little wheat in the soy sauce that's used in the BBQ sauce.

I think it might have been nice if the chef had sent the water back with some suggestions or recommendations that my friend could safely eat. She decided to just order three sides: cole slaw, collard greens and sweet potato fries. I wanted to try a variety of things so i ordered a half slab of ribs, cole slaw, sweet potato fries and cornbread. The water came back to advise us that they were also out of cole slaw. My friend ordered succotash and i ordered fried green tomatoes.

Not a long wait, food came quickly, looked good. First up, the succotash. Not what either of us was expecting. Corn with zucchini (I expected corn with lima beans), had a very odd taste, some kind of strange aftertaste. I didn't like it, but she HATED it, didn't even want it on the table with us. Cute waiter reluctantly took it away and brought a second bowl of collard greens for my friend.

I tried the fried green tomatoes next. They were delicate and well cooked, nice but just a tad bland. Needed a bit of a bite or a punch. I'm thinking maybe just a crumble of feta or even bleu cheese would have been nice. They were actually served with a bland white creamy sauce, maybe ranch, i'm not sure what it was.

Ribs....kind of disappointing. I was hoping they'd be falling off the bone. They were not, they were actually kind of hard and chewy. My teeth got a workout. The sauce was good, had a nice flavor; but the little cup they gave me on the side for dipping was cold. The ribs sat on two pieces of white bread. I was surprised to see that, never saw ribs served that way. I must admit the bread with the juices and BBQ sauce was delish, one of my favorite things! The sweet potato fries were good, didn't blow my socks off, but they were good. The cornbread had nice flavor but was a tad bit greasy and also not even warmed at all. The waiter noticed I didn't eat it and he took it off the tab for us.

Dessert was the Bread Puddin'. Honestly, I wouldn't have called it Bread Puddin'. It was a big hunk of french toast with raisins, complete with maple syrup. Tasted fine, but it wasn't bread puddin'.

I liked the place, liked the vibe, loved the artwork in the bathroom and the funky faucet on the sink. Great music, cool people, a place I'd like to hang out at, but I must admit I was pretty disappointed in the food.

Not ready to give up yet, there are plenty of interesting looking things on the regular menu that I'd like to try. And maybe they were just having a bad day. I really wanted to be blown away and I wasn't. Hopefully I will be next time.

Manderley, over and out.

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