If you’ve eaten at Cousin’s Restaurant (3545 Robie Street) in the last 11 years, you probably know Mary Elle Planetta.
The longtime fixture at the legendary family restaurant decided about a year ago that she wanted to venture out on her own, resulting in the soon-to-be Elle’s Bistro, which opens at 1678 Barrington Street (the former Just Us! Barrington) in early November. “It just seemed like everything in Scotia Square was going to franchises and everything homemade was getting the boot,” says Planetta of her choice to open up downtown. “I felt like I was filling a void.”
Elle’s will focus on homemade, family-style comfort food—like soups, sandwiches, burgers, all-day breakfast and her dad’s chicken parmesan — and house-made desserts. It’ll serve beer and Caesars as well. “It’s a small version of Cousin’s,” Planetta says, which means much more than a great diner burger—running an efficient kitchen is one of the major tricks she’ll take away from her former employer.
The 25- to 30-seater, open-concept spot will be open from 7am-7pm, Monday through Friday, and 10am-3pm on weekends. Cousin’s regulars missing Planetta can catch her cooking and running food, “I’ll be everywhere,” she laughs.