231 S Ellsworth Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 347-7231Add Hours
243 S Ellsworth
Cuisines: Fine Dining, American, French, European, Seafood, Continental
Price Range : Average
03/02/2010Provided by Citysearch -
231 Ellsworth has officially replaced Parcel 104 on my top 5 special occasion dining list (Peninsula & South Bay edition).
I was requested by higher power to show some very important friends of my family a good time in the bay area. I was ready to splurge and I want nothing but the best. Alexander's steakhouse had been dined to death. Plumed Horse, Parcel 104 and Le Papillon are all a bit far for my guests coming from the city. After some careful research I have decided to bring them to 231 Ellsworth.
I made my reservation one week in advance. I budgeted 1.5 hours to drive from San Jose to San Mateo just to make sure I could get there before my guests. I was 15 minutes early and no one else had checked in yet. Everything seemed to be going according to plan. I waited patiently by the bar area.
20 minutes later my guests finally arrived. It was then I realized I messed up the reservation. There were 5 people in my party and I only made reservation for 4! I did not know how I let that that slip. Must be the sleep deprivation.
I turned to the maitre'd and she noticed my mistake without me even saying a word. She immediately tried to arrange a larger table and made it seemed like they were just getting things ready. We were seated in 10 minutes and I was relieved.
Me and my guests decided to go with the 3 course chef tasting menu. The chef took food allergies and dietary restrictions into consideration which is a really nice touch because one of my guest is on a diabetic diet. The food was phenomenal. We had cod filet, rack of lamb and numerous small bites between the main courses including oyster, tuna tartar and sorbet. At the end of the dinner one of my guest pronounced the Rack of Lamb as the best he had. (I would say that was probably on the 3rd-4th position for me.)
I could not believe an excellent meal like this came with such a modest price tag. I thought I could never hear myself calling an upscale restaurant good value. The 3 course tasting menu is just 60 dollar per person! (Trust me you really won't be hungry at the end of your dinner. I can't even imagine finishing a 5 course meal.) I have forked out more than double that amount at some fancy restaurants where both the food and service shy by comparison.
The ambiance of 231 Ellsworth is elegant, classy but relaxed. The dining room is romantic but not too formal. Tables are placed quite far apart so you can enjoy some privacy for your dinner conversation. Take your s/o, date, business associate, clients, customers to this restaurant and you won't be disappointed.
Unfortunately I forgot to compliment Chef Isaac Miller when he was making his rounds to greet our table. One of these days I will go back to 231 Ellsworth again.
04/16/2008Provided by Citysearch -
My husband and I finally had a chance to dine here last week. Everything was incredible! We got there early, but had a chance to look at the menu in the window. They were not 100% ready at 5:30, but invited us in and got started on our drinks while they lit the candles on the tables. Inside it's a romantic setting with cozy booths lining the walls and tables arranged where you didn't feel cramped at all. They promtly brought out fresh, hot bread and room temp butter (thank you!). As we started on the break and cocktails, they checked on if our drinks were ok and the waiter soon took our oder. Although warned that the tuna was served pretty rare, I ordered it anyway, and was very embarrassed to ask them to cook it more. The waitress totally knew what I was going to ask as she came to our table. When my plate did return, it was the most incredible tuna that I have had...period. The fish was so tender yet cooked al the way through (tough with tuna), stacked on top of delicious mustard greens (although I don't eat veggies, not one leaf was left on my plate), and lay in a coconut sauce that was like liquid heaven! Before our main entrees were ready, the chef sent out samples of thinly slices fish drizzled with oil, a strawberry soup of some type, and a sample of yet another cold soup. My husband's pork dish was great too: moist slices of pork over a great sauce. The service was great too. At least 5 people served us at one point or another during our visit. Although we did just pop in during the middle of the week, I would highly recommend reservations. I can see how a place like this can easily and quickly establish regulars no matter what day of the week. The price was a bit more than a casual dinner, but worth every single dollar especially if you go there for an occassion. We will most definitely return (and this time I will consider the waiter's suggestion about the fish...still feel terrible!) Enjoy!
09/08/2007Provided by Citysearch -
We, a large party, had a variety of dishes. Some had the 3-course tasting menu, which included an ahi starter, flat iron steak main course, and the chocolate cake for dessert. The ahi was average; the steak was tough, but at least had some seasoning; and the dessert was too sweet. Others had the fois gras 3 ways and salads for starters. The seared fois gras was at best average, the tureen and the custard fois gras were average. The salads were fine. Some ordered the American Kobe beef. This course looks like the flat steak of the 3-course menu, but the price was much higher, but it was not seasoned at all, and the beef was as tough as the flat steak.... they should be calling the meat Kobe at all, as it was tough and lean. The Texas bass was probably the best course of the entire dinner... the skin was crispy and the seasoning was good.
For the price of the meal, I would much rather go to San Francisco; for a similar price range, a lot of restaurants there (like Bacar, Boulevard, and Gary Danko) would provide better food and service.
Yes, there are many establishments that can serve a fine meal, but none, in my opinion, can compare with 231 Ellsworth. What sets them apart from the others? Attention to detail. The food is a tapestry of flavors woven with surprising and innovative flair. The service is impeccable: attentive but not invasive. The atmosphere is warm, contemporary without being flashy, and elegant yet relaxing. This is truly an experience worth repeating, and sharing with others!
I've eaten at 231 Ellsworth many times, and have always had an amazing dining experience there. The wonderful combinations that the Executive Chef, Tim Hilt puts together are just fabulous..I especially liked the Ahi with the Sushi Rice Sorbet..I thought it was a very cool presentation and the food just melted in my mouth! The foie gras was pretty amazing as well..Definitely worth every penny, and a nice upscale dining option in downtown San Mateo.
09/23/2006Provided by Citysearch -
Over the years, we've eaten at 231 Ellsworth on numerous occasions, sometimes for special events, but just as many times, if not more, simply because it's good. Having dined there over the last couple of decades, we are especially happy with the offerings of the current chef, Tim Hilt. He and his kitchen bring fresh, seasonally updated versions of classics with inventive twists and the presentation is at once elegant and whimsical.
Most importantly, though, is that the food is delicious. We never worry about whether we should order seafood on certain days of the week. Without exception, everything they serve is fresh. To that end, I was surprised at a previous post that they found the ahi to be disappointing. Our experience was the polar opposite. We found it to extraordinarily fresh and flavorful, exquisite really,--not always our experience when we've dined elsewhere. I would encourage them to give the restaurant another try.
We wouldn't hesitate to highly recommend this restaurant.
09/22/2006Provided by Citysearch -
Why drive into the city when you can have a dining experience like this right in San Mateo? 231 Ellsworth sets the standard for fine dining on the Peninsula. With a wine list to die for, gracious and efficient service, and a tasting menu thats out of this world, this restaurant is the perfect choice for a special occasion or dinner with a client you wish to impress. On my most recent visit, I enjoyed the five-course tasting menu with winethe wine pairings were excellent and the food so good my companions and I wished we had ordered the seven courses instead, if for no other reason than to prolong the bliss. The Ahi tuna was as fresh as can be, and the white rice sorbet accompaniment so inspired I hauled out my ice cream maker when I got home to see if I could replicate it. The poussin with bread pudding had us glancing around the restaurant to gauge whether fellow diners would notice if we licked our plates. Having enjoyed the same menu as the negative poster below, all I can say is that apparently he cant tell the difference between lamb and pork loin, and his review should be read accordingly. Dont think twice about making a reservation here you absolutely will not be disappointed.
08/26/2006Provided by Citysearch -
This is one of the most disappointing dining experiences I've ever had. After reading many good reviews, my wife and I decided to go to 231 Ellsworth for our anniversary dinner. I had the five course tasting menu and my wife had a crab ravioli starter, the filet mignon and the valrhona chocolate fondant. The tasting menu was mediocre: the ahi tuna and pork loin (as well as my wife's crab ravioli) had no flavor and could only be described as ""fresh"" three days ago. The lobster and poussin were average. My wife's filet was good, but not at $38 for a 4 oz serving. Without qualification, the fondant and tasting menu dessert were good.
The service was mixed: our main server was very rough around the edges and intrusive (not what you're looking for during a romantic date at a nice restaurant), but the rest of the staff was professional. The decor is unimaginative and boring. And finally, the prices are quite high and completely unjustified. For the same money, I highly recommend driving 25 minutes into San Francisco and eating at a real restaurant. 231 Ellsworth is totally overrated
07/13/2006Provided by Citysearch -
The 3-course and 5-course were excellent. Wide variety of food - ahi sashimi was very tasty and fresh. Followed by Lobster with fava beans. Poussin on pudding offered a nice mix of textures. Lamb with very tasty corn. Good desert - toasted meringue with ice cream and strawberries.
Things that stand out are the presentation, texture of the food, juxtaposition of flavors, and believe or not - good value for the quality and ambiance. Take your time to enjoy the food - make sure you eat the various components of each dish together to appreciate how it blends together.