Luella

Luella

Californian. Stylish and bold, the olive-, burgundy- and gold-hued Luella welcomes patrons to sup on inspired preparations of Mediterranean-inflected Californian fare. This critically acclaimed restaurant delivers with both setting and fare, not to mention a small yet robust selection of wines to pair with the cuisine.

At the turn of the century, Chef Ben de Vries did a fine job of opening Andalu, the Cal-Northwest tapas hall in the Mission District. The food was comforting yet inventive, and priced in the mid-range. We liked it. We're pleased to report that Luella, his latest venture as of 2004, is an excellent extension of de Vries' culinary sensibilities, at a higher price point -- and thanks to its Russian Hill location -- a higher altitude to boot.

The atmosphere is part swank lounge, part mod living room. The space, designed by Shawn E. Hall Designs, is all soft pea green and blonde wood; a bar of this same blonde wood with small table lamps lines one wall. A three-quarter-circle booth in, yes, pea green sits at the end of the bar. The walls match this same soft, somehow comforting shade and while quite bare are not ominous or off-putting. -- Genevieve Roberston