Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ellen's Southern Kitchen, Downtown Dallas - Restaurant Review

I met a friend for a Stars game on Thursday, and not wanting to pay $20 for two hot dogs and a Coke, decided to grab some food in the West End before going to the game.  We had no idea where we wanted to go, so my friend pulled out a restaurant finder app he had on his phone.  Ellen's Southern Kitchen came up within short walking distance of DART's West End Station, and having read good things about this place in both the Dallas Morning News and other Dallas-area restaurant review sites, this sounded like a good place to give a try.  Read about the deliciousness after the jump!

First, a quick review of my proprietary Restaurant Rating System:

5 - I Would Walk 500 Miles (And I Would Walk 500 More) to visit this place
4 - Worth a visit when in town
3 - Meh; I won't object if a friend suggests it, but I wouldn't recommend it on my own
2 - Only if nothing else is open
1 - Run, Sriram, Run!

The Place

Ellen's Southern Kitchen
1718 N. Market Street
Dallas, TX 75201
7 A.M. - 9 P.M. Sunday-Thursday; 7 A.M.-10 P.M. Friday-Saturday
Price:  $10-20 per person without alcohol

If you're headed to a Stars or Mavericks game, this is a convenient spot, as it's only a 10 minute walk to the American Airlines Center.

The Menu

As the name implies, Ellen's specializes in Southern comfort food, and specifically, Southern breakfast food, because in the words of the owner, "grits rule".  This is a bit hard to read, but I snagged a photo of the breakfast menu (breakfast is served all day, by the way).

Ellen's also offers a selection of sandwiches, burgers, and Southern specialties like fried chicken and chicken fried steak.  They also have a selection of coffee drinks, chai tea latte, and hot chocolate.  It was a cold day, and so I ordered the hot chocolate.  It is homemade, and 100% delicious.

The Food

I kept debating whether I wanted breakfast for dinner, or if I wanted the chicken fried steak.  Ellen's specialty is breakfast, after all, but I'm always down for a good chicken fried steak.  I eventually decided on the "Big Ol' French Toast Breakfast", which is two slices of French toast, 2 eggs any style, bacon, sausage (2 links or patties), and hash browns.  My friend had the "Big Ol' Country Breakfast", which is the same thing, except substitute biscuits & country gravy for the French toast.  Diet food this wasn't.

The French toast was good, though not quite great.  Slices are big, fluffy, and with a good amount of crunch, though there was something just a little odd about the taste.  I think it might have been a little too much vanilla added to the mix, perhaps.  A minor issue, really, and they were still pretty tasty.  The rest of the dish was really, really good.  The eggs were very slightly undercooked but still good, and the bacon slices were absolutely perfect - not too crunchy to where they tasted like pork rinds, but cooked well enough to give you just a little crunch a good smoky flavor.  I'm not usually a fan of sausage links, but these were delicious, with a good but not overwhelming amount of fat that lent to a creamy, almost melt-in-your-mouth kind of feeling.  And last but not least, the hash browns were cooked perfectly, with a beautiful golden brown color, a crispy exterior, and a moist and tender interior.  I stole a bite of my buddy's biscuits & gravy, and the biscuit (buttermilk of course) was very good, nice and fluffy with the layering you expect in a good buttermilk biscuit, and a good, rich sausage gravy.

Neither of us were in a mood to stuff ourselves silly, so we skipped dessert.  

Service was good.  We were seated promptly, and having arrived about 10 minutes past 6:00, we made it to our seats for the 7:30 start with a good 10 minutes to spare, even with the walk to the AAC (which was desperately needed, despite passing on dessert).  Our server was nice, actually came back promptly when we said we needed just another minute or two to order, and made sure our soda and water glasses were full.  

The Verdict

Rating - 4 stars.  Not quite perfection, but still a very good meal, and I already plan to come back to check out the chicken fried steak.  Better yet, this place is a relative bargain, with many main dishes available for under $10.  Give Ellen's a try the next time you're visiting downtown.

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