On a bitter, cold November night, my friends and I arrived at Elements in style. We came on bikes (including one tandem bike), which we locked up on a “No Parking” sign on the sidewalk. As we passed a BMW parked by the valet stand, I was immediately struck by its understated elegance. It was a feeling that would remain with me for the rest of the meal.
The interior of Elements is cozy, but modern, much like a fancy winter lodge. Combined with its dim, but warm lighting, Elements has a pleasant, soothing ambience that seems to suck you into another world, one where you don't have an essay due later that night. Toward the back, next to the open kitchen, there are a few small tables and a bookshelf where patrons can read cookbooks and watch as their food is being prepared.
Like its setting, Elements gives an elegant and refined twist to even the most mundane food. While waiting for our courses, we were presented with a bread basket that contained a variety of goodies, including delicious twists and focaccia. We had not even gotten our courses, and I was already impressed.
Next, we were served a simple but delicious soup in what I can only describe as an elongated shot glass. The soup was just the right temperature — warm enough to heat me up, but not scalding hot.
My first course was the market salad. I hate salad, but given that the Restaurant Week deal only gave us a choice between two salads for the first course, I opted for the one that sounded like the lesser of two evils. Yet after taking my first bite, I realized that this was not your typical salad. The light seasoning perfectly balanced the taste of the fresh vegetables, and as I ate my way from the top of the salad to the bottom, I was surprised by the variety of ingredients that were included in the seemingly simple course. At the very bottom, I was delighted with a blast of citrus, which left a sweet, tangy taste in my mouth.
The second course was salmon served on top of pureed broccoli, red rice, beets and maitake mushrooms. Full disclosure: I love salmon. But once again, this was not like the salmon I usually have. Its presentation was, as expected, gorgeous — the fish was perched on top of the rice and beets and surrounded by mushroom. But it was the taste that blew me away. The salmon was moist and soft, melting in my mouth with every bite. It was gone from my plate before I knew it.
The final course was an assortment of different desserts, including a scoop of lavender ice cream, puff pastries and panna cotta. While it was still delicious, the dessert assortment was one of the few things that did not blow me away that night. I guess I've been spoiled by the ice cream around Princeton.
Ultimately, what Elements provides is not just a delicious meal, but a phenomenal experience. The service was attentive throughout the meal, and despite being students, we never felt judged or out of place. Whether you're looking to have a fancy, intimate date or a nice dinner with friends, Elements is a wonderful choice that will certainly deliver. My only suggestion? Try not to bike there in heels.
4.5 out of 5 paws
Pros: Innovative, delicious cuisine; attentive service.
Cons: Not exactly within walking distance.