Recently, we had the pleasure of dining at Ella’s Fine Food and Drink, located at 2 Tower Street in Westerly, RI. Let me start off by stating Ella’s is absolutely amazing in all respects; wonderful drinks, beautifully prepared and presented food, and great hospitality.
Ella’s was opened in 2011 by Chef Jeanie Roland and her husband and business manager, James Roland. This casual, but refine restaurant is nestled within the charming coastal, southern region of New England. The fare at Ella’s features contemporary American and French-Asian inspired using the freshest seasonal ingredients. Everything is made from scratch, with the menu changing to reflect the best available ingredients for the season. Chef Roland has stated “she has yet to create her best dish!”
Chef Roland, besides using the freshest ingredients in her kitchen, uses only all natural and organic meats, with all produce, dairy and, seafood sourced locally. As the season changes, so does Ella’s menus, not just a result of available ingredients, but to “challenge to herself and the staff” to create new and enticing dishes. Your favorite dish may remain, but with a twist.
A few of the cocktails enjoyed at our table were the shinsen – Tito’s handmade vodka, muddled cukes, and ginger infused simple syrup. For the bourbon lovers, there is the paper plane – Woodford Reserve, Aperol, Amaro, and lemon juice. How about the capernoited – Fernet Branca, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, Buddha spiced simple, and cardamon? Or for a twist on espresso, go with the frothy swine – Dave’s Blind Pig espresso, Van Gogh Espresso Vodka, and Kahlua.
If you like a cocktail with a little kick, try the dirty laundry a blend of Dorothy Parker Gin, olives, serrano chili, caper berry, and dirty juice.
Besides being a seven-time James Beard nominee in two regions, Chef Rowland is also one of a few to “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network. Curried Mussels with Frites was Chef Roland’s creation that beat Bobby Flay. The mussels are coated in a coconut milk-based Thai curry sauce and topped with fresh herbs and lime juice. The frites, fried in duck fat, are served with three sauces: French-style Dijon aioli, Asian influenced ginger chili aioli, and homemade ketchup. Be sure try these triumphal mussels when you dine at Ella’s.
A few of the mouth-watering appetizers we shared were the tuna tartare resting in a cool miso soup accompanied by avo, cucumber pickle, and local pea tendrils. The beef saigon – marinated tenderloin, watercress, lime, cilantro, and red onion. The melt in your mouth foie gras – pan seared foie gras on house made brioche, Applewood smoked bacon, tomato-apple jam, Meyer lemon-citrus aioli. The sweet & spicy calamari – truly sweet, tender, and slightly spicy flash fried squid, tossed with cilantro-green onion and crushed peanuts.
From the pasta portion of the bountiful menu was the pan scallop atop summer corn risotto and garnished with corn-basil sauce, heirloom tomato confit, and watercress greens.
Heading to the land & sea area of the menu, we have the pleasure of trying several entrees, including the Miso salmon where exceptional pan seared miso-infused salmon came with toasted coconut dusted forbidden black rice, chili bok choy, and ginger sesame butter. Once I saw lamb on the menu, I knew they were for me; these tender Moroccan spiced lamb perfectly prepared seared, spiced half rack of domestic of lamb came with oil cured olives, fingerling potatoes, sautéed kale, and honey drizzle. For the steak lover in our group, there was the steak frites – classic with 14 oz. New York strip with truffled frites. If I had not gone with the lamb, the duck risotto – pan seared duck on wild mushroom risotto with frisee and parmesan would have been my choice.
One of the delicious desserts we tried was the Apple tart topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Normally, I am not a dessert person, however, this apple tart was so good I ate the whole thing by myself.
Be sure to visit this fabulous restaurant located on the southern border of Rhode Island and Connecticut in the small town of Westerly, RI. While you are there, do not be surprise if Chef Roland seats you or fills your water glass, as she is involved in all aspects, ensuring that her guest are happy. You never know you may walk in from her house in Watch Hill, RI. Maybe it will be Taylor Swift, as she has been known to take one of Chef Rowland’s cooking classes.
In 2016, Ella’s was named in the Top Five restaurants for overall cuisine in all of New England by OpenTable diners.
Chef Roland and James also own and operate The Perfect Caper restaurant in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Ella’s is opened Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 to 10:00 pm, Sunday from 4:00 to 9:00 pm, and closed on Monday.