Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe

A recent Saturday night date night for me and the missus meant another restaurant crossed off our local to-visit list. This time, the venue was Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe, situated in Tampa's gentrifying Seminole Heights neighborhood (5119 N. Nebraska, to be exact) mere steps from one of our favorite eateries, Taco Bus. Resisting the temptation to swap farm-to-table cuisine for tostadas and agua fresca wasn't easy; however, we persisted and perused the extensive cocktail menu while waiting for what we were told would be 90 minutes for a table (Ella's doesn't take reservations for small parties, but does allow call ahead seating, which would have been fine had I actually remembered to call ahead). Luckily, Mrs. Hackknife's steely glare in my direction was erased once we discovered that we could be seated on the patio in a mere 5 minutes (whew - date night saved!), in this case, under the branches of a giant, old tree, the likes of which we don't often encounter in our relatively new subdivision far out in the 'burbs. Although a little hot at first, the air temperature began easing up as the sun dropped towards the horizon and I eagerly sampled my drink (Ella's version of the classic gin-and-tonic, made artisanal by adding blackberries and beet-infused gin in place of the usual Tanqueray) and our appetizer, pork belly skewers with watermelon, cilantro, and red onion.  Our chosen entrees were both hearty and skillfully assembled: my beef and chorizo burger topped with oozing queso, bacon, and green chile (served with a side of Rasta-Far-Fries, wedges tossed in mustard with sea salt, cilantro, and sriracha) immediately landed on my list of Top 5 burgers in town, while Mrs. Hackknife's Henry the Loaf (bacon-wrapped meatloaf topped with onion strings/root beer gravy atop a garlic mashed potato cake) put my Canteen meatloaf recipe to shame.  Reeling from the excess, we decided to forgo dessert until we arrived at our next destination (the Hark Rock Casino); however, given the funky art on the walls and the snappy dishes leaving the kitchen, I'm certain that whatever sweets Ella's cooks can turn out would be alright with me...

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