In a word: Kosher Carnival.
The specs: #0155
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; reviews at Yelp, Ruppert Food Blog, Cap Times, Madison Fish Fry, collected at del.icio.us; photoessay at Shiv/Shill/Shine; official web site;
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Amanda ate the matzo ball soup.
Carlos ate the guacamole burger.
Emo ate some fries and drank a lot of lemonade.
JM ate the BBQ burger.
Nichole ate some other kind of burger.
Sabi ate 2 kids' mac and cheeses.
The bill was $50, or $8.33/person, plus tip (kids eat free on Mondays).
JM gave Ella's an A-; Nichole gave Ella's a B+; Sabi gave Ella's an A- (see our grading rubric).
Ella's is kind of a blur, but we think they like it that way. Check out the fantastic fried dill pickles over octopus:
The whirling Ferris wheel:
And the allure of the train scene (pictures courtesy Emo, age 3):
Few places have menus that can be described as "epic," but Ella's qualifies. There's enough breadth there to justify a whole 'nother blog. But we're only a few mortals, and only sampled a few dishes.
Amanda gave props to the matzo ball soup. JM likewise endorsed the BBQ burger and the v. good fries, and of the macaroni and cheese, Sabi (4) said, "It tastes like nacho sauce. I really like it a lot. It's so good."
On the other hand, Carlos' burger was a "tragedy", rare to the point of moo-ing. He was happily able to fill up on chili fries, and said the guacamole is great.
Emo, who would have been content to watch the model train course around the track forever, was heard to say, "ABCDE Ella, silly," and enjoyed the lemonade. One of the best things about Ella's is crushed ice in the drinks - Amanda especially wishes this would catch on.
The carnival atmosphere of Ella's can make or break an evening out, however. Carlos said he loves the tables and toys everywhere, but it can get too noisy. Sabi, who is a quasi-regular with her grandma, said, "If there's one thing I don't like in a restaurant, it's bad behavior." We're guessing she might see a lot of that from the restaurant's shortest patrons, but we didn't let that get us down.