For art, elegance, ambiance and Napa-inspired fare, Ellie Hall’s namesake restaurant
hits all points on the culinary compass.
Setting the tone early, Executive Chef Eric Dreyer describes the food as “elevated but not stuffy.” Bigger picture speaking, that is the theme of HALL Arts Hotel, where Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge resides. (Heads up: More to come on the hotel in an upcoming #TravelTuesday.) Fittingly, the food at Ellie’s is art on a plate.
Being a wellness enthusiast, I have an appreciation for decadent food that is also healthy and balanced in carb-protein-fat ratios. Nowadays, I am not alone in a longing for dining options that fit that bill.
I started with the hummus. It was a white bean hummus, as opposed to chickpea, and I liked the light, creamy texture with a kick of spice and an artichoke tapenade for savor and salt. The sensory delight of color/texture/taste really hit the bullseye when paired with a creamy Californian Chardonnay (Ellie’s WALT Chardonnay is a chardonnay-lovers chard. If you like a Rombauer, you absolutely must go to Ellie’s to try this one.) The start to the meal was simply perfect.
Chef Dreyer is passionate about light and healthy fare. He has five items on the main course menu, which comes as an anxiety-ebb for folks like me who never can fully commit to an item on an overwhelming menu (I look around and get whiplash from order envy at restaurants with too many choices.) Although there are only five items, with lots of vegetarian and vegan options, it’s really 10 items when you opt to add a protein.
For the coveted entree, I opted for the salmon. Knowing Chef Dreyer’s Japanese influence and passion for approachable, fresh food, I had a hunch that any fat added to the dish would be with restraint. (Chef lived in California for 10 years and trained under Troy Thompson in Marina Del Ray.)
As expected, the dish was light, fiber-rich with colorful veggies and a filet of salmon that was crispy-on-the-outside, melt-in-your-mouth inside. The good-for-you Omega-3 fatty acids of the salmon atop the kaleidoscope of colorful veggie medley was good for the heart, good for the eyes, and good for the belly. It was the kind of main course you can’t get off your mind. The entire meal was a Whitney “I Will Always Love You” Houston song, and the salmon was the high note.
When the waiter asked the obligatory question, “Did you save room for dessert,” I said yes without missing a beat. And my cheesecake was decadent, rich, modest-in-size, had a crumbly graham crust, was topped with berries, and… was simply delicious. The dessert menu changes weekly, but if you’re lucky enough to be there on a cheesecake night, you’re in for a real treat.
From November, Ellie’s will offer not only dinner but also breakfast and lunch. Also of note, as they’re directly across the street from the monumental AT&T Performing Arts Center, is the three-course theatre prix fixe.
The feel of this Arts District newcomer is welcoming, the menu is ever-evolving, and the heartbeat is that of their namesake. Ellie Hall was a mom who delighted in togetherness, serving a variety of approachable food in the 1940s and ‘50s. She shared an exuberant enjoyment of life with company at her table, and that same spirit envelops guests at the restaurant that bears her name. When trekking through the mecca that is Big D, you should definitely take in a visit to HALL Arts Hotel and follow the marble staircase and artful lighting to Ellie’s Restaurant and Lounge.
Cover photo courtesy Fraiberg Hollander | e3 Photography
Brook Benten Jimenez, M.Ed. is an exercise physiologist in Georgetown, TX who contributes to the health and wellness of the world by providing free fitness education at Brook Benten Fitness. Filled with wanderlust, Benten Jimenez enjoys traveling, hiking, eating farm-to-table fare, and raising a good glass of wine with friends.