Wednesday, July 20, 2011

elements: Princeton, New Jersey

The Privateer
  • 1 1/2 oz  Batavia Arrack,
  • 3/4 oz  Smith and Cross,
  • 1 oz  Velvet Falernum,
  • 1/2 oz  Dubonnet rouge, 
  • 3/4 oz  fresh lime juice,
  • 3  healthy dashes of Angostura bitters.
Shake well  and strain onto fresh ice.  Garnish with  freshly grated nutmeg over the top.                                                                            Photo and recipe courtesy  elements barblog.Mattias Hägglund

Restaurant Review
163 Bayard Lane (Route 206 at Leigh Avenue)
Princeton, New Jersey 08540

The drink pictured above was the hook that enticed me into a restaurant in Princeton, a venue I know has been super-busy since it opened. An NPR food show on the radio made me curious: the food experts rated this drink higher than any other found in the Philadelphia area -- high praise, indeed!

Chef and owner Scott Anderson

Chef and owner  Scott Anderson  has also recently won numerous local awards for inventive cooking, and is heading to New Orleans to compete as well. His awards are well deserved if our recent visit is any indication of the norm of the restaurant as a whole. 

elements has a special area for diners interested in ordering a very long tasting menu. The style of the main room is sophisticated and modern. A smaller room upstairs for overflow and meetings hides a giant hidden computer monitor which we got to see on our guided tour at the end of the evening. This tour astounded me since they didn't know I like to write restaurant reviews; they saw me looking into the kitchen and invited me inside the door. Surprisingly warm for an expensive restaurant, non? It's a  very large kitchen; fish and meat prep areas are separate. A well-cooled storage area upstairs holds an awe-inspiring array of wines. Shiny caramel wood ceilings and walls enrich the atmosphere, and impressive windows angle rays of golden sunlight.

elements is a restaurant with an attitude aspiring to old-fashioned excellence in a modern, international package. They want you to enjoy the meal, or else they take the consequences and make it better. 

Interior of elements Princeton, New Jersey

We were offered three choices of waters when we first sat down. After ordering,  a gift of three precious appetizers  arrived on a platter, tastings of fish ceviche and so on, all described in detail by our server. The menu offered a variety of seafood and meats.  My dish seemed to have everything -- including curds and whey! Presentation was careful and decorative in china of varied shapes.

Frequent service proved proud, friendly and caring. I can't  praise the quality  highly enough. And sure enough, off went the crumbs!

Our main course offered a melange of tastes emanating from fresh ingredients and spices. The vegetables were taken fresh from "Frank Muth's" farm to create the "farm to fork" service the restaurant prizes.  

elements Restaurant, Princeton, New Jersey

For a better than Manhattan meal in Princeton, elements is the place, especially now  Princeton's favorite old European restaurant Lahiere's is closed. Similar in ambience to Salt Creek Grille, elements has more unique, upscale food and service. The tasting menu with around fifteen dishes in the small dining room sounds overwhelming, but many seem to like it. It also looks like Cut in Beverly Hills.

In conclusion, I would call elements excellent from varied points of view: atmosphere (ambience), service, and food -- taste, quality, and presentation.

A cellphone here (if I dare say so) would be an unwanted interruption to the sybaritic and hedonistic enjoyment of food-tasting at elements. Call them anyway (609.924.0078) or stop by. Best try weekdays, when at least there's a chance of a table. Free parking on site.

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