Friday, April 18, 2014

Element

I had been waiting a long time to visit Element, ever since Brian Hardesty’s last restaurant, Root, closed very suddenly. There was a lot of talk that he was building something bigger and better and I can now say that it has certainly lived up to all the talk!

I’m a little late to the Element party, but I wanted to give them time to get a little established before trying it out. It was one of the few times I was nervous about attending because I was hoping it would be as good as I was hearing about from everyone else.

Luckily, my good friend Beth had the brilliant idea to make it my birthday dinner and she was willing to help me split some of the courses. When trying a new restaurant, I always want one of everything so it helps to have a teammate split the dishes with me. I also had the fortune to visit more than once already! Like most top restaurants these days, the menu will change according to what is available for each season. Even more reason to go back…

Beth and I went with all “small plates” since there were so many interesting ones that we wanted to taste. I highly recommend splitting them because even as a “side dish”, quite a few of them were large enough for two. Yet, to kick off the evening, we started with their cheese plate. The cutting board came with a mix of soft, medium, and blue cheeses, which was amazing dipped in the honey. For a change, there was enough slices of bread to cover the cheese and slices of salami and charcuterie. That probably could have been half a meal right there!
Cheese plate
My favorite “small plate” was the Spring Vegetables due to the light green goddess dressing. This would actually be a perfect side split between two with your main course. Such a beautiful plate full of colors as well.
Spring Vegetables
My second favorite easily was the Pasta Puttanesca which tasted unbelievably fresh with a sweet “sauce”. I’m afraid that might be a cold weather dish while hopefully the vegetables might still be available.

Pasta Puttanesca (front) and Cured Scallops (back)
A couple of other courses that we tried were just plated beautifully and were almost too pretty to eat. The Wild Mushrooms was a smaller side and the Cured Scallops consisted of only a thin slice of scallop, surrounded by a squid ink mousse that was just too rich and intense after the first few bites. These two were definitely “adventurous” courses.
Wild Mushrooms
We had missed the Lamb Pot Roast for the season and word has it that was their most popular dish so make note of that for next season.

A week later, I got the chance to try a couple of their seafood dishes. I started off with the Fried Oysters, which had an interesting texture of crunchy outside and squishy soft inside.
Fried Oysters
I finally tried a “large plate” of Fish Stew and this was easily another favorite. This was perfect for me because not only was it a hearty dish for our never ending cold weather, but it had all my favorite flavors. The fish was carefully laid on top so as not to overwhelm the stew, while the broth was not too spicy like a cioppino. I was impressed with the large chunks of potatoes, cabbage, and kielbasa filling the bowl.

Fish Stew
If you love modern food adventures, you definitely need to try this once.

And if you just prefer cocktails, the top floor consists of a beautiful lounge and I hope to try out the patio soon as well!

Resources:

Element = http://www.elementstl.com/