Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Ella’s Deli is sub-par

If you can picture the combination of Willy Wonka?s Chocolate Factory, FAO Schwartz, an old-fashioned soda shop, and a Kosher Jewish Deli, you just might be able to imagine the creative genius behind Ella?s Deli & Ice Cream Parlor (2902 E. Washington).

If your brain is screaming ?overload? from these images I just put in your head, you might want to check it out for yourself. The atmosphere is alluring, but the food is ultimately overrated.

The whimsical eatery mesmerizes young and old alike with its displays of vintage toys, suspended collectibles, and animated figures. An electronic Bart Simpson skateboards above the diners? heads. Batman, airplanes, animals, and toys on mobiles hover from the ceiling and multi-colored pinwheels whirl. There?s even a carousel out front that has all the kids (or in our case, Big Kids) clamoring for a ride from spring to early fall. The tables encase Lego?s and candy beneath their glass and there are so many electronics and decorations to see that your eyes will be constantly roaming.

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The menu leans heavily toward sandwiches and soups–the typical deli-fare, but with a whirlwind of choices. I was disappointed with the Corned Beef Sandwich ($6.65) I ordered. My expectations were pretty high considering the menu claims that Ella?s serves ?Madison?s #1 Super Sandwich–Corned Beef and Pastrami.? The meat was dry, the rye bread tasted generic and store bought, and although I was anticipating my sandwich to be ?piled high? like the menu stated, my sandwich was small and unimpressive.

The Open Faced Tuna Melt ($7.85) was better. Served on your choice of bagel or bread, with a decent amount of tuna salad smothered with melted Swiss cheese and topped with tomatoes. Hamburgers and Kosher Franks can be made with virtually any topping. You want potato salad on your hot dog–you got it!

Salad and fish platters, deli sub hoagies, stuffed potatoes, blintzes, and a special vegetarian section make up the rest of the menu. I was eager to try a breakfast omelet (even though it was dinner time) so I ordered one just for a taste. The broccoli and cheese omelet ($5.20) arrived light and fluffy, but seemed fairly small. The broccoli was fresh, but the cheese tasted like a spread–not fresh melted cheese.

It may have been my high expectations that dictated my disappointment, but I felt that the food was highly hyped. On the other hand, the dessert menu was worth the trip alone.

I was tempted to order the Sparkled Kazoo ($35) but I was short a small army. Vanilla and chocolate custard plus eight scoops of rich French ice cream, five scoops of natural sherbet, and topped with whipping cream. Grand total of thirty-two scoops.

The chocolate milkshake ($3.95) was fantastic. It was so thick and fresh that I had to eat it with a spoon. I would have to rate the milkshake as one of the best I have ever tasted.

Banana Splits, Grilled Pound Cake Sundaes, Floats, Sodas, Malts, Freezes, and Banana Fudge Wheels are just the basics. Specialty sundaes such as the Strawberry Streamer, Coconut Canopy, and Confetti Mint Fudgy (all $5) will have you drooling strictly by reading their descriptions alone.

Overall, I was extremely disappointed with the food at Ella?s. The decorations and electronic toys were so extraordinary that my expectations for the cuisine were pretty high. I can?t attribute the poor meal to ordering the wrong item; Ella?s Deli does claim to have the number one sandwich in Madison. However, this would be a fun place to bring a group of friends for a birthday–what better way to celebrate than with a giant sundae? Until next week, happy dining!

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