March 3, 2008
A Little Too Hot

A reader from back east planning to visit Sacramento soon sent me an email a few days ago to ask if I'd recommend the hottest restaurant in town. In reply, I told him that would be Ella Dining Room & Bar, the Selland family's bright and cosmopolitan spread on the K Street Mall.

Now I'm hoping he isn't planning to get here before Thursday evening. That's when Ella tentatively is scheduled to reopen after a week's closure because of an electrical fire. The blaze, confined to a cabinet that stores a battery of large batteries to keep emergency exit lights going in case of a power outage, didn't do any serious structural damage, but it sure stunk up the place. Everything from large flowing draperies to every louver in the restaurant's extensive shutter motif has had to be cleaned to get rid of the stink, says manager Josh Nelson. He puts the cleanup costs alone at around $50,000. He doesn't even want to calculate the cost of lost business.

He praised firefighters for responding so quickly and for confining the fire solely to the battery cabinet. When a fire years ago damaged the restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, owner Alice Waters expressed her gratitude to responding firefighters by asking them to a free dinner. Looks like some local firefighters also could be in for a splendid meal.

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