Fell Frustratingly Short.
My husband and I and some family members recently visited Ellerbe's for the first time, curious to see what all the buzz has been about. The focus of the menu here is fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients. We were catching the last days of the summer menu and were told that because of the their menu concept, it will change from season to season. The menu is short, but well edited. The same goes for the wine list. I ordered the creamy corn and poblano soup to start and the lamb chops with couscous and creme fraiche. My husband ordered the brushcetta to start and the pork shank for his entree. The meal began with a piece of baguette with butter and red wine salt. The bread was gone in 2 seconds flat, a precursor to the whole meal. My creamy corn soup with roasted poblanos was lukewarm and strangely sweet, lacking any roasted flavor. It was smooth and creamy, yes, but tasted like they had put sugar in it. My husband's bruschetta was simple and forgettable. When our entrees came out, I was a little surprised. The portions were tiny...er, I mean the presentation was very "artistic". I'm a fairly small gal and my two little lamb chops ($29) were devoured in literally 4 bites. The tender couscous underneath was also gone in a few bites as well. I was irritated I was still so hungry. My husband's pork shank was also tiny, more akin to the size of a rabbit shank. Our folley was overlooking the sides that are offered separately. They are not "family style", are portioned for one person and I highly recommend ordering one. For dessert, we ordered the bread pudding and the butternut squash tart. Both were very nice, but nothing I hadn't experienced before. Offering drip or french press coffee was a nice touch. Our server was very polite and knowledgable.
I am not one who is overly impressed with the "fine dining experience". I'm a tough critic, but if the restaurant has the food to back up the atmosphere, I'm perfectly willing to extoll its virtues. However, Ellerbe's Fine Foods just didn't quite live up to expectations. In regards to the food, the lamb chops were excellent. Probably some of the best I've had, but too miniscule to really enjoy. The rest was good in concept, only slightly above average in execution. For what each item is priced (entrees range from &19 to $29), I didn't expect to still be hungry afterward. And if "artistic presentation" is the aim here, then the true fine dining experience needs to be offered, with 4, 5 or 6 courses and wine pairings. But when you have such small courses that fail to impress, no amount of educated waitstaff, formal linens, fancy salt, dulce de leche "after dinner" shortbread cookies or french press coffee can make up for what's lacking. I'm willing to give this place another try, but I'll definitely be ordering more next time.
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