Ellipsis has been generating buzz for many reasons. It’s very expensive, its name is a series of black dots and its modern American menu was designed with help from the blond and beautiful Voltaggio brothers, Michealand Bryan, of Top Chef Masters fame. (Chef Rupam Bhagat is actually from the Voltaggio crew.) Then there are the restaurant’s interiors. Unlike so many finedining restaurants, which tend to favour warm colours and dim lights, Ellipsis opts for masculine shades of grey, brown and black.
The decor works especially well at the bar downstairs which feels like the living room of a young media mogul, with its gorgeous tweed couch, statement chairs and large leather rug. The interiors are by Thomas Schoos , the rock-star designer who created Tao, the 10,000-square-foot nightclub in Las Vegas. Long story short: this restaurant isn’t going to break even any time soon.
Ellipsis is terribly fancy but it doesn’t feel snooty. The bartenders downstairs are encouraged to engage with the customers. The classic cocktail and extensive wine list, our Caucasian bartender told us, was designed by a New York bar consultant. Perhaps that’s why our Sham Medicine, a mix of apple-infused cognac, calvados (a French cider), cinnamon and mint, set us back a mean R1,200. They also like to put on a show: our Sham was mixed with much flair, poured in a metal glass, then topped with packed ice like a gola and garnished with crisp slivers of apple. It was potent and spicy at first, but as the ice melted the drink took on a more delicate flavour.
Upstairs is more formal – and more bizarre. The walls are filled with heavy, painted canvases in ornate frames, from a still life of a fruit bowl to a barren tree against a brooding sky and almost a dozen other pieces. The private dining room – seats about 10 – has a canvas that we’re convinced is of Ben Stiller from Zoolander.
Thankfully, the food offers more clarity. Ellipsis serves new-age American cuisine which translated on the menu into snacky pork-belly tortillas, mac ’n cheese with rye cavatelli truffle, lamb sliders and toasties topped with foie gras mousse and manchego cheese. The food is impeccably presented but in an intentionally careless sort of way. Our generous portion of beet salad with hazelnuts, whipped goat cheese and arugula had a lovely sweetness while the salmon tartare, mildly flavoured with dill was light, refreshing and just the sort of chow you want at a boozy dinner.
Fish turned out to be the kitchen’s speciality. Our mains of cioppino (a firm cut of perfectly cooked rawas served with baby carrots and tomato fennel broth) and the salmon, with grilled mushrooms, cauliflower puree and romesco sauce, were both delicious. The dishes displayed a delicate play of flavours – the broth was light as a dream and the romesco creamy – that put the fish in the spotlight. The pork ribs in comparison were a letdown but the tenderloin beef burger we sampled was excellent.
Ellipsis is pricey but not as much perhaps as some of the other fine-dining restaurants in the area. If you do swing by, don’t miss dessert. Banana split, Rocky Road and cheesecake might seem like standard American fare but aren’t. Our Rocky Road, for instance, had three hunks of ice cream: an adult coffee, a sweet peanut butter and a cookiestudded chocolate served with a caramelised marshmallow sauce. Like most of the food here, it was grown-up comfort food at its best.
|Salmon with romesco||R1,200.00|
By Neha Sumitran on April 27 2012 4.30am
Photos by Mohnish Dabhoya