Elisabeth’s feels like a diner when you enter, largely because of the chrome trim around its 15 or so tables. It is part of chilly gray/silver motif accented with an occasional nautical artifact. At the far end the skeleton of a rowboat hovers above the open kitchen, adorned with twinkling blue lights. At the entrance of the long, narrow room is a bar which, during daylight, feels more like a diner’s tall lunch counter.
There the diner comparison ends, as Elisabeth’s food is far more sophisticated, while prices are quite reasonable. Lunch entrees are in the $10 to $14 range, and slightly larger dinner portions topping out at less than $20. We think people would pay a bundle more for this delicious food.
We’d just made a rainy Friday afternoon jaunt to the fish market in New Bedford, so were inspired to sample Elisabeth’s scallop choices. When they arrived, we quickly realized that we had each ordered a dish the other of us would prefer, so we swapped.
Gina ended up with a selection off the regular menu, Sauteed Sea Scallops Espinage, a word we suspect someone believes is French for “spinach.” The dish, at $10.95, was described as “roasted garlic and spinach pesto with wine and cream on rice with tomatoes and asparagus, garnished with Buzzards Bay scallops.” We’ve posted a photo because it was as beautiful as it was tasty, and Elisabeth’s description, as well as anything we might come up with, could not do it justice. Under the deftly carmelized scallop pieces was a scattering of whole baby spinach leaves; the sauce on top was a delicious lemony, creamy concoction.
The Big Dog tucked into a daily special, Sauteed Scallop Chunks with tomatoes, lemon-basil pesto, fresh penne noodles, white wine and cream, again with the Buzzards Bay scallop garnish ($9.95). The penne had the telltale jagged edge and chewiness of a freshly made batch, and the dish had a generous dusting of parmesan cheese.
This followed a bowl of clam chowder ($4.95). Elisabeth’s version is an unthickened cream broth piled high with clams and potatoes. We’d also asked for a bread basket because everyone else had one, but the impenetrable sourdoughiness probably wasn’t worth the calories.
With our lunch, we enjoyed glasses of Genesis Meritage and Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon, each tasty enough to prompt us to look for bottles at our local wine shop. Our pleasant waitress, Amanda, told us that Margaret’s, a restaurant located two doors down, shares ownership, staff, and many menu elements, but Margaret’s is a BYOB joint that also serves breakfast.
Some might find the small portion size here to be an issue. Each of our dishes could have been bulked up with as extra scoop of rice or pasta, but to what end? We’d rather have top quality ingredients prepared well in small quantities than a giant pile of cheap carbs. We felt that the lesser quantity emphasized the quality and we liked that.
Overall, we found Elisabeth’s to be a very good experience with great food, and we look forward to returning.
1 Middle Street