Let me be totally upfront, when I was invited to Lela Restaurant, I half expected stuffy, noisy, special-occasion-only atmosphere with expensive food I couldn’t pronounce and while I still can’t pronounce some of it, I was so, so wrong. And because I was so taken back and on the rare occasion that a place gets both atmosphere and sustenance right, I have split this between two posts.
Oh, but first things first, let me tell you about Lela. Opened in June of this year, Lela is Bloomington’s newest urban meets suburban gem.
So, lets start with ambiance and design. Designed by Minneapolis’ ESG architects, the place is nothing but windows and open areas, a nod to contemporary, industrial chic with warm natural light. Its right next to the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel near Hwy 100 and 494, in the former Colette Bar and Bistro. While it’s still upscale, in plating, wine and craft cocktail selection, and design, its more than that. While there are business deals being made and anniversaries happening at some tables, it’s much more casual than I expected. To be clear, I wore jeans, talked way too much, and went with all of my best friends, who helped me shut down the place.
Let me keep gushing, would you? Since Lela’s Executive Chef, John Mullen, III was formerly with 6Smith, a #mnbucketlist favorite, I had high expectations. Since my group of friends are what you’d call ‘sharers’ we wanted it all and at Lela, they didn’t mind. We tried everything from the burrata salad, seared scallops, steak with a host of different salts, fresh in-house made pasta [silverqueen corn ravioli, truffle gnocchi], grilled asparagus (like you expected any less from me), heirloom carrots and even Brussels sprouts with pancetta. We finished it off with lemon tart with whipped mascarpone (which ended up in my cappuccino) and cheesecake with strawberries and mint. Being that the portions are smaller, you can try more as a group without overdoing it. My favorite? The sides, specifically the potato puree. And the Green Envy cocktail.
Overall, I’m glad that I was wrong. A big thank you to everyone at Lela for being so gracious and accommodating to us toting around our cameras and fielding all of our questions. I highly recommend a visit whether you are the jeans and flip flops or the business suit type.
[Photos by myself and By Rebecca Studios]