Finding the best places to eat for our readers
Ela Bella is a French and Italian restaurant in Tonbridge High Street with a passion for fish and seafood.
Before opening Ela Bella Restaurant owner, Tarik, worked as a head chef for over 20 years in popular restaurants including The Vineyard in WrothamHeath, El Matador in Sevenoaks, Amano at The Swan and Franks Restaurant and Mussel Bar in West Malling. Having opened the restaurant shortly before the Covid shutdown struck, it is a joy to see them reopen and back in action.
We visited on a Thursday evening and received a warm welcome from Tarik and his friendly team. The restaurant is based in a beautiful old, listed building with oak beams and a naturally cosy atmosphere. They have nooks for couples and large tables for big families and groups, plus a huge room upstairs.
They have a menu to suit all tastes with additional daily, fresh fish dishes. This was fortunate since in our party we had a pescatarian, a pasta lover and a gluten free meatatarian! For starters we chose the juicy, jumbo scallops wrapped in crispy bacon with a garlic butter sauce, the classic insalata tricolore with mozzarella balls and a basil dressing, and a generous prawn and avocado salad. Prices range from £5.50 to £11.95 for the scallops.
There is a good choice of wines served by the glass or bottle. We tried different house wines, and all were above average. We got the feeling that nothing would be too much trouble and had a feeling of being “looked after”. This, combined with the jazzy background music and general buzz in the room, made us feel very relaxed.
Tarik mentioned that they “like to feature different things and give our customers what they want. For me, it’s all about the people.” This is reflected in the fresh fish dishes which were on the blackboard, including whole lemon sole, cod fillet and halibut. We tried two of these specials and both were perfectly cooked and full of flavour – the sole pan-fried with garlic and the halibut with capers and mushrooms.
Our other dish was the mouth-watering chicken Milanese with tomato pasta. All our choices were accompanied by excellent veg – I like loads and was delighted to see that we had broccoli, French beans, carrots, mangetout and crispy potatoes.
Often restaurants skimp on the vegetables, or they are not cooked so well. Not the case at Ela Bella – spot on! Prices for main courses range from £15 up to £34.95 for the rib eye steak surf and turf.
Puddings are never compulsory but here they deserve to be enjoyed! I had the classic tiramisu – creamy and perfectly accompanied by a double espresso! The others we tried were the crunchy topped crème brulee and the affogato. Prices range from £5.50 to £10.95 for a crepe suzette.
Ela Bella is a great place to eat – relaxed, informal and with delicious food. We are looking forward to going back soon!
163 High Street, Tonbridge
Kent, TN9 1BX