Ella’s Restaurant

Seven-course feast awaits Valentine’s Day diners at Fayetteville landmark

Posted: February 3, 2013 at 6 a.m.

Ella's Restaurant

Ella’s Restaurant, located inside the Inn at Carnall Hall in Fayetteville, will offer a preset menu for Valentine’s Day.

A legacy transformed

Ella Carnall Hall was built on the University of Arkansas campus in 1905 as a women’s dormitory. Named after an associate professor of English and alumni, it was placed on the National Register for Historic Places in December 1982.

After new dormitories were built, the building was used as a fraternity house and later for academic offices until the restoration of Old Main in 1991.

In 2001, a $6.9 million renovation revived the historic building, establishing the current the Inn at Carnall Hall and Ella’s Restaurant.

“Typically we do a five-course dinner, but this year we are doing seven courses for nearly the same price,” said executive chef William “Bill” Lyle.

Lyle prefers a preset course for many reasons, but primarily for the relationship that is created between the guests and staff.

Valentine's Day packages

• Seven-course dinner: $75 per person

• Seven-course dinner with wine pairing: $100 per person

• One-night stay with chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and a half-dozen roses: $169

• Above with dinner: $299 per couple

• Above with dinner and wine pairing: $349

Reservations available by calling (479) 582-0400

“Having a preset menu in particular helps to create this unique experience where the guest learns to trust the chef,” Lyle said.

He is quick to add that also includes his team members and that the creative process is a cooperative effort. From the bread to the coulis, a great amount of care and attention is put into each item, and Lyle works with his staff to find each person’s strength.

“Every guy here is better than me at something,” he said.

Even with the preset menu, most courses offer a selection from two or three options.

The first course features scallop ceviche with strawberries and avocado in a fresh citrus marinade or steak tartare with caramelized fennel and bearnaise with white truffle potato chips.

The second course offers mixed field greens with carrots, shallots, tomato confit and parmesan dressed with red wine vinaigrette; spinach salad with strawberries, mandarin oranges, red onion and goat cheese with a strawberry-balsamic vinaigrette; or roasted shiitake mushroom and port wine bisque.

Course three is one of two entree courses, offering seared Chilean sea bass paired with cherry tomatoes, shiitakes and Meyer lemon infused Israeli cous-cous; or seared duck breast and leg of confit with stilton risotto, burgundy poached pear and a blackberry gastrique.

For an aperitif, the fourth course is a peach sorbet and champagne shooter.

The fifth course offers a choice of grilled beef tenderloin and Humboldt Fog compound butter served with honey-habanero polenta; or a Berkshire pork chop with sweet potato discs, cherry-smoked caramelized apples and Cognac cream sauce.

The dessert course offers an ancho chili flourless chocolate cake with fresh raspberries or a strawberry mascarpone tart in a rose-infused pastry crust.

Finally, Manchego cheese atop crostinis is drizzled with a spiced honey and topped with toasted almonds and fresh blueberries.

The dinner is offered at $75 per person, or $100 with wine pairings. Guests can also book a room at the inn for $299, which includes dinner for two and a room for a night with a dozen red roses, chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne. More information is available by calling (479) 582-1400 or online at ellasrestaurant.com.

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