First Bites

Michael Schwartz's Ella: Beet-Cured Salmon and Lychee Sangria (Photos)

To understand the Miami boom, take a walk around the Design District's new Palm Court at 140 NE 39th St. It is here that Michael Schwartz continues his culinary domination of the city through his newest baby, Ella. 

It's named for Schwartz's daughter, who just graduated from high school last week and has collaborated on the project. The restaurateur in training will get a dose of real-world experience at Ella five days a week.

Planned as a pop-up, Ella will have a six-month run. But witnessing the amount of love and detail that's been put into the concept, we presume it'll permanently pop up elsewhere if it doesn't remain in this location.

Considering this is the first time Schwartz and his crew have served breakfast, we had to get a taste of the offerings. So we started with breakfast and then hung out a bit. (The patio and its free, über-strong Wi-Fi is perfect for those in the virtual workplace.) Then we moved on to sangria and lunch. Ella doesn't serve dinner, but if you wanted to spend the entire day eating real food, you could always take it to one of Schwartz's other nearby restaurants: Michael's Genuine, the Cypress Room, or Harry's.

This Bay's English muffin breakfast sandwich is a hand and mouthful of bacon, cheese, and egg ($7). Don't be surprised if every time you visit, you catch Genuine Hospitality Group's beverage director Eric Larkee chowing down on one (or two). 

Schwartz's favorite, the avocado toast ($9), inspired an internal debate on just how you should eat it. Schwartz believes you should do so with both butter and olive oil, and after trying this dish made with Hass avocados from California and pepper on a slice of True Loaf's wheat, we have to agree.

My favorite item was the homemade everything bagel and lox with beet-cured wild salmon, heirloom tomatoes, onions, and capers ($14). The man responsible for your new go-to breakfast is Cypress Room chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia. Bonus points for the fact that this, along with the avocado toast, is available all day.

The same can't be said for these freshly baked pastries, which run out when they run out. 

Then there are True Loaf's phantom cookies (named for how quickly they disappear), with ricotta worked right into the dough. 

The lunch bell at Ella starts at 11 a.m. That's when you can get this anything-but-average and fully grown-up Parmigiano-crusted grilled cheese oozing with melty goodness and caramelized onions and served alongside tomato jam ($12). 

If you're really cheesy, you might want to opt for a cheese board, which is not to be confused with a cheese sampler. Yes, it looks pretty sitting on the counter, but resist the urge to help yourself. 

In addition to Michael's Genuine Home Brew and copious amounts of rosé, there's also a daily sangria flavor. During our visit, it was lychee, which was perfect to turn up on a Tuesday. 

Another item coming out of the Cypress Room and with Alcudia's magic touch is the rotisserie chicken ($17), dressed in a hemp-seed pesto and served with a green salad.

If you're a fan of Taquiza's blue masa tortillas, you can get your fix without having to cross the bridge. These vegetable tacos that pack black beans, avocado, pickled onion, cilantro, and cotija cheese ($11). 

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.