The Dining Divas: Ella Dining Room and Bar

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Guests: Nina and Jim Davis (she’s president of New Star Lasers; he’s retired but cooks and gardens); Stacey and Tim Hodge (she’s director of community relations for Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern California; he’s a soil relocation engineer with his own company, T.L. Hodge Construction)

Where: Ella Dining Room and Bar, 1131 K St., Sacramento; (916) 443-3772; elladiningroomandbar.com

Benefiting organizations: Wellspring Women’s Center and March of Dimes

1-second review: Perfect. Extraordinary. Metropolitan. Expensive (repeat 10 times).

Dishing on the dishes: What was special? Everything: potato-leek salad with veal sweetbreads; crispy pork belly; wood-oven meatballs; gnocchi; roasted beets with pistachio; ravioli of mushrooms and fresh goat cheese; diver scallops with coconut broth. Do order the carrot cake with cinnamon-butter ice cream and sweet carrot soup for yourself and no one else.

Extras: The amuse-bouche was gazpacho, creamy, flavorful and ever so fresh, topped with lobster. Diva Gayla Mace suggested ordering a gin and tonic because Ella makes its own tonic water. How about one glass with 10 straws? Instead, we each got a shooter-size gin and tonic, complete with lime. What a treat. Sans gin, it would have been refreshing.

The star treatment: Yep. We were treated like Stars with a capital S from the moment we stepped through the door. Do all diners get the Divas treatment? That’s my sincere wish.

Wine time: Diva Peg Tomlinson-Poswall chose the wines: Don Olegario Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain 2006; Marqués de Griñón Syrah/Graziano, Caliza, Dominio de Valdepusa-D.O. de Pago 2004; and Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles, Burgundy, France 2005. Diva Joan Leineke’s comment on the white Burgundy: “Good, good, good.”

Quote of the day: Nina Davis heard Ella owner Randall Selland say it: “I will go down with the ship
before we offer coupons.”

Chatter: This Divas lunch was a repeat for the Davises and a three-peat for the Hodges. At their first, the Hodges were preparing for their daughter’s university graduation. Now, they are planning her April wedding. Tim confessed that he is the weeper in the family. “I don’t know how I am going to give her away,” he said. He calls Stacey “The Rock,” but she admitted to getting a bit teary-eyed when her daughter tried on her wedding dress. Nina and Jim Davis are planning to be away for a month. When they return to their Colfax home, they will have a completely new kitchen. New kitchens seem to be a trend; Diva Joan Leineke performs her culinary magic in a luxurious new setting.

The Dining Divas—Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall—have been wining and dining together since 1993. Every month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, they have raised more than $288,000 for local charities and nonprofits.