Four of us went to Luella in Russian Hill (Hyde near Green) last night for dinner. Since it was a party of 4, they gave us the big green booth, which was really great. I think even 5 or maybe 6 could fit in it.
1st course: 2 walnut crusted goat cheese salad with roasted beets and champagne vinaigrette, one order of polenta fries, and one special - watermelon salad. Everything was good, but the standout by far was the watermelon salad - cubes of watermelon, crumbled feta, fresh mint, toasted pine nuts, with cayenne and fresh lime juice. Everyone at the table was bowled over. Luckily, it was my order so I got the most :). I would go back there just to sit at the bar and have this dish. WOW.
Entrees: coca-cola braised pork shoulder over polenta, scallop & black truffle ravioli, lamb tortelloni with grilled radiccio and toasted pine nuts, and the strip steak with a red wine sauce, gorgonzola and greens (I think fresh wilted spinach?). All were absolutely AMAZING. The pork is sort of their signature dish and it was delicious, not too sweet, and incredibly tender. Ravioli was very rich and buttery but with some kind of light vinegar or maybe lemon juice with the melted butter over it, cutting the richness and somehow making it light. Strip steak was cooked perfectly, with a nice crust on the outside, and pronounced as "the best steak I've had in a LONG time". Lamb tortelloni were large, looked more like ravioli but with a thicker skin, and the inside meat was absolutely perfect. I love pine nuts, too, so I was very happy. Everyone was just amazed by how consistently good EVERYTHING was.
For dessert we shared the luella ice cream sundae (with swensen's ice cream from up the street) and the peach tart with frog's hollow peaches and whipped cream. The sundae was great - 3 scoops of vanilla/chocolate/coffee ice cream with some kind of toffee or brittle on top, served in an old fashioned sundae glass. Both people who described the peach tart went a little overboard on the enthusiasm, and despite the fact that the peaches were delicious, it didn't blow anyone away. I think we expected the peaches would be cooked at least a little, but they were raw (though ripe, of course). The pie crust also tased a little undercooked somehow. It was just not as AMAZING as every other dish, but still delicious. I tried to get the ricotta fritters per chowhound suggestions, but nobody was into it, unfortunately. Next time...
Truly a nice, comfortable, styley but not trendy place. Lovely interior, nice music level (ie not too loud), friendly and great value. Definitely going back as soon as I can convince someone to come with me! :)