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Ella is a narrow wooden space on Ponsonby Road that has seen more than its fair share of restaurants. Many years ago, it was Stella, and then it was Koket – which was said Sherkit, which is Swedish for kitchen, – a Nordic, spare sort of place. Then it was Season where they made very fine eggs. Now, it’s Ella, which is a play on Stella, since the staff used to work there and have come full circle.

Names aside, we really hope this one stays for the long haul: what has, for its past few incarnations, been a plain, whitish sort of space is now a deep red, with wooden shelves, wooden tables and wooden chairs. The look is Frenchish, and warming.

The menu is short and broadly Mediterranean, running through bruschetta ($11), to spaghetti with shellfish ($22.50) to the inevitable pork belly ($23.50/$26.50).Prices are pleasingly low, especially for lunch and the wine list is strong – and again, very reasonably priced. The food is simple, ingredient-driven and deftly prepared – classics, well done, crowd-pleasing even. We like it very much. SFG

HOURS Lunch, Wednesday to Friday, noon to 2pm. Brunch, weekends, 10am to 3pm. Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm.

ADDRESS 118 Ponsonby Road, ph 378-7979.

IMPORTANT DETAILS The private room upstairs is ideal for large groups.

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