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The Capital Grille

Seminole Heights Eclecticism

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café | By Ronda Parag

A rustic scrap metal horse and colorful bowling balls adorn the entrance at Ella’s.
Any restaurateur would love to have Melissa Deming and Ernie Locke’s problem: a line of patrons out the door. Since the couple opened this fall, eager eaters are flocking to the eclectic American folk art café.
“Not a bad problem,” said Deming, happily. “But we never expected to be so busy, so fast.’’ Neither would have predicted the need to hire additional staff in their first month. Naysayers asked: Are you sure about this? That isn’t the area. What about the economy? Do you even know what you’re doing?

“It’s amazing how much this neighborhood needs more restaurants and places to go,’’ said Deming. Deming, 33, and Locke, 46, are up for the task. At first, they sought to convert an existing structure into their dream project. But each building they checked into flunked its environment reports. Luckily, Deming’s family is in construction, and offered to build exactly what they wanted.

A new twist on America’s favorite chicken pot pie.
The high-ceiling, two-story brick structure seats more than a hundred patrons in a casual setting for the Kansas City transplants to combine their passions: eclectic cuisine, intriguing art and live music during Sunday afternoon barbecues. With bluegrass to blues, music is spiced with variety.

Locke is having fu
n in the kitchen creating a unique menu reflecting his creative personality and love for food. The starters are tasty and satisfying. Try the jaunty grilled romaine with bacon, feta and peppercorn dressing. Also recommended are the spicy “Fat Japs,’’ jalapenos stuffed with pulled pork and cream cheese. Asian slaw and wasabi cream make an enticing addition to the seared sesame tuna-topped wontons. Fresh mozzarella, basil and cucumber moisten crunchy, herbed Bruchetta.

Two popular main dishes include “Henry the Loaf,” a great Southern meatloaf named for their son, combining Angus beef and bacon with yummy mashed potatoes over demi glaze and the “Goldberg pizza” topped with a deli mix of smoked salmon, pesto, capers and cream cheese.

Ode to Elvis behind the bar.
In addition, a pine nut chive compound gives life to a rib eye with goat cheese-mashed potatoes, and the pork loin accompanied by wilted spinach, seasoned with curry — adding a new dimension to Americana cuisine.

Two vegetarian delights include a julienned pepper salad-stuffed beet box, teamed with stewed vegetables, and a puff pastry pot pie with roasted garlic oil-scented Napoleon of eggplant, mushrooms and artichokes.

The wine list is a varied mix as is the beer selection, with a list seemingly chosen for its wacky names as much as its flavors.

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café
5119 North Nebraska Ave.
Tampa, FL

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