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New elements restaurant- princeton, nj

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Wow! My wife and I recently dined at the new elements restaurant in princeton, nj (www.elementsprinceton.com) and we are both so excited to have such an outstanding restaurant in Princeton! The atmosphere, the service and most importantly, the food..... all were superb ! We had a tasting at the Chef's table in the kitchen and everything that was brought out was absolutely fabulous! We started with champagne and finished with the most delicious desserts I have ever tasted. Every course was beautifully presented and the chef's personally described each one. The wine suggestions were spot on. I absolutely love that they are using fresh local ingredients and the finest proteins available. I am very excited that we don't have to travel to NYC or Philadelphia to enjoy an excellent meal. This is, most definitely, the finest restaurant in NJ!!!

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  1. Where is this close to? I see Witherspoon on the map..is it by Princeton Unniversity? Forgive me, but I am clueless when it comes to Princeton. Thanks!

    Menu looks great!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Angelina

      163 Bayard Lane (Route 206) heading north out of Princeton.

      It's on the right, at the bottom of the hill next to the Shell gas station if you're familar with the area. Would be a very long walk from the Nassau St / Witherspoon St intersection - which is the center of town.

      http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...

      1. re: Foody4life

        Yes, on the site of the former Stefanelli's service station and Avis rent-a-car facility, which is why that sometimes comes up on a search for the address.

        1. re: Foody4life

          Sooo happy to see the great review! We live less than a mile from here and cannot wait to try it. The building inside and out is designed wonderfully.

          Funny, "long walk" is relative. It's less than a mile from Nassau/Witherspoon St...it would be an easy walk for most, 10 min. maybe...safe and pleasant scenery.

          1. re: frackit

            I agree, the walk would be nice. It's just that most people will circle for days trying to find a spot in front of their Princeton destination versus parking in a half empty garage, a block away. :)

            Note for those not from Princeton, elements has onsite parking & there's additional parking at the adjacent Bank of Princeton on 206.

            We too can't wait to go!

      2. My husband and I ate there Friday night. The space is beautiful ! The food was mostly prepared well but the service is amateurish at best. Don't keep coming over to take a plate when some one at table is still eating, make sure all dishes are clean, and stop apologizing when you should have received better training in the first place. Get the manager!!

        3 Replies
        1. re: trav

          Had the pleasure of eating at Elements last week... With being open just over 2 weeks, the kitchen still has some issues to work out, but overall food was good! Service was not very good, and with the menu they are serving and the price point, the staff needs to be more on top of the details of service and they need to be more well versed in what they are serving as oppsed to just being able to make a suggestion! With time, I hope this should work itself out!

          1. re: chefty

            To trav & chefty. Thanks for the updates. We've been waiting a bit for the breakin period to pass before dining there. I'd be curious as to what you both ordered and what your thoughts are on the price to satisfaction ratio! Looking at pics on their blog, it looks to be small portions, highly stylized plating and I'm hoping the flavors are better than good.

            1. re: Foody4life

              Portions were appropriate... I had numerous items, as we all shared. I particulariy enjoyed the swordfish and tuna, as entrees, fish cooked nicely... The app's were ok, nothing really stood out... Dessert highlight would have to be the carrot cake... Food is beautifully plated, I think to much emphasis on style not as much on substance.

        2. I was recently talking with a food critic friend that had just eaten at Elements (shhhh!) She really liked it. I explained that we had a hit and miss kind of meal there... The foie gras 'torchon' and the jelly doughnut dessert really stood out for me. Our apps were great but entrees were just ok. I told her that we would definately be going back, as many times, new places need to work out a few kinks when very new. I am excited to have a forward thinking culinary force in Princeton. Scott is a really great chef!

          1. elements received a pretty good review in this week's edition of Time Off. The reviewer, Faith Bahadurian, gave the food an "excellent" and the service a "very good". She mentions that the service was a little slow at one point and that the servers need to be more familiar with menu items and how things are prepared.

            One discouraging word (or words) for me was that the main dining room is a little noisy. However, it seems that efforts are underway to rectify this problem.

            http://centraljersey.com/articles/200...

            1 Reply
            1. re: ambrose

              Another positive review, this time in the latest issue of NJ Monthly:

              http://njmonthly.com/restaurantreview...

            2. Well, Mrs MercerChow and I decided to mark Valentine’s Day with our first visit to Elements. We left enthusiastic about the food and the service, though it comes with quite a price tag. The only caveat is that for V Day they offered only a four-course prix fixe menu with two choices per course or a seven-course tasting menu, so it was not a real test of what happens on a more heterogeneous ordinary night.

              We went with the four-course and started with a couple of glasses of Prosecco. They brought a basket of bread (four varieties, baked on premises) and some nice infused oil. This was followed by an amuse-bouche, each a pair of oysters on the half-shell with some condiments and foamy stuff. They were very good.

              “Foamy stuff?” Yes, if I had any criticism of the service it would be the rapid-fire descriptions and lists of ingredients for everything. Out of, um, respect for the occasion I was not taking notes, but even if I had been, my short-term memory could not have kept track of the seven things the oil was infused with or the five things on the oysters. Slow down, people.

              We ordered a bottle of the 2006 Puligny-Montrachet, which was wonderful, chilled just a little. First courses were the Kindai tuna tartare for me and rock shrimp for Mrs MC. Both were excellent, the tuna truly remarkable. We continued with a market salad for her and the vichyssoise for me. The vichyssoise was one of the finest soups I have ever had. I can’t imagine how it could have been better (except for a bigger portion).

              We both continued with the halibut (served finnan haddie style, with a smoked fish cream sauce), which was also excellent, and concluded with desserts simply labeled “chocolate” and “Terhune apple.” We are not big dessert people, but we agreed that this was the weakest course. The meal was topped off with a little plate of petits fours, which were yummy.

              The main room was spacious enough, even when full. It did not seem that noisy, although we might have had a different opinion had we been seated at a banquette. The service was spot on; the room was certainly not understaffed. Again, the simplified menu made execution easier, so it will be interesting to see it under ordinary circumstances. And we will certainly go back. Based on this one data point, Elements has the potential to set a new standard in Princeton and environs.

              1. Ate there on Saturday night and was expecting a great meal, boy was I let down. I eat out often at some of the best restaurants in NYC and Philly, and was excited to see fine dinning come to Princeton. The four of us had probably the worst meal at Elements than I could remember. Starting with a terribly unseasoned amuse bouche and rude waitress. The appetizer course was beyond uneatable, especially for charging New York prices. Out of the 4 ordered, polenta, short rib ravoli, warm calamari salad and tuna tartre, one was worse than the next. From bland, unseasoned, to gummy, undercooked ravioli and over cooked chewy calamari.

                The entire course was slightly better but not by much. the 48 hour short rib were cooked properly but the "chimicuri" sauce on the meat was repulsive. Both the lamb and steak died twice, asked for medium rare and received medium well. The steak was like eating sandpaper, obviously cooked off hrs before, sliced once off the grill and left on window too long. When talking to the waitress about the food served to us she gave snotty comments.

                Not one plate the entire evening was even close to being finished. Unseasoned, bland, over complicated food and extremely over priced. This was the absolute worst dinning experience I've had in a long, long time, the food sent out to the customers was embarassing. I'll give the Elements another 6 months before it closes. Stick to other local joints like the ferry house and Blue bottle cafe or take the train into NYC for fine dinning.

                12 Replies
                1. re: RoccoD

                  Mrs. Citizen Rich and I went to Elements this past Friday for her birthday. We ordered the tasting menu of Scallop Cerviche, Turbot w/crab, roast chicken, 48-hour ribs, a cheese course and dessert. All the meals had some sort of mustard element tying them together, whether it was mustard or the greens, and everything was great. Really, really, really good. I've got nothing negative that I can say about the food. At $75, it seemed about right for what we had compared to other tasting menus I've had elsewhere. Although I'm not a huge fan of the chef's table concept (the whole idea is a little hoidy-toidy to me), I wish I had made the reservation to get the 9-course meal. Next time. We had a great time and a great meal, and we will be back.

                  That being said, there were a couple downers during our visit. First, as mentioned in other posts, it's pretty loud. We had a very difficult time hearing what our servers were saying to us, or what we were saying to each other. Loud. I think there are two reasons for this: Reason 1 is that the tables are pretty long. If you're sitting back in your seat, you're quite a distance from your dinner partner and need to speak a little louder. Reason 2 might be that the booze was flowing pretty free in the place, and the Friday evening crowd sounded pretty buzzed.

                  The other downer bit was that the service was less than stellar. Our table server really was kind of aloof and distant. My wife remarked that she came across as impersonal as too. She was smokin' hot, and I am usually a bit more forgiving (you know you are too) in a case like that, so it really was noticiable. Howerver, the runners and other servers were all nice and helpful when we needed it. Like I said, the service was less than stellar, but I think it was just our table captain who was at fault. The other servers and the food made up for her.

                  I do want to point out that the party of four at the table next to us were only served three of their four meals on time. The fourth one arrived after the first three were done eating, and they had to ask the girl who was setting up the table for the next course for help to even get that to happen. They were rightfully unhappy. I don't know if they got comped or not, but they should have been, even if they were the annoyingly loudest people in the place, so I didn't feel as sorry for them as I might have.

                  As a last remark, there were a couple of chumps in there wearing jeans. Sure, they were Princeton posh types wearing 10-billion dollar watches, but they can't see their way to thowing on a pair of slacks? I'm thinking that a place like this ought to have a dress code. That's just my two-bits.

                  1. re: Citizen Rich

                    Citizen Rich - Thank you for the excellent review. Elements has been on my radar for quite some time. I've hesitated solely due to the distance (over an hour drive). I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and make the trip as curiosity is getting the better of me. BTW, the cocktail menu looks pretty good. Did you have any or can you comment on the wine program? Thanks.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      b.,

                      I'm still in the process of writing up my review. What can I say? I'm a very slo-o-o-w writer! lol

                      But re: noise. Given the abundance of hard surfaces in the space, I can see how noise can become a *major* issue when the dining room is full. And you know how *I* feel about that!! (Top of my list of restaurant peeves. Definitely beats out olive oil. ;) ) However, it was not a problem for us because we were there on a Monday evening at a relatively late hour (for NJ restaurants), 8:30 p.m., and there were only four other occupied tables. Also, our server couldn't have been nicer or more attentive.

                      1. re: RGR

                        R - You must be getting to me. Instinctively I think of you and you're reaction everytime I read a review that mentions oil instead of butter or the noise level. Pavlov's dog has nothing on me. :) BTW, I look forward to reading your review. No rush - take your time.

                        1. re: bgut1

                          b.,

                          LOL!

                          My goal is to finish the review sometime this week.

                          Did you go to Daniel's Bistro on Saturday? If so, what's the status of your review?

                          1. re: RGR

                            R - Daniel's Bistro was very good. I am also in the process of writing my review and will post it after you post yours on Elements. :)

                            1. re: bgut1

                              b.,

                              Oooh! I love a challenge! So, if I want to read your review of Daniel's Bistro, I'd best get my review of Elements up asap? ;)

                      2. re: bgut1

                        The cocktail menu did look interesting, but since I was driving I didn't dip my toes in those waters.

                        I'm not an authority on wine by any stretch of the imagination, and since Mrs. Citizen usually only drinks one glass, and because I'm usually behind the wheel of the car when we go out, we're strictly a by-the-glass wine ordering couple. I do know that I liked the Peninsula Cellars gewurztraminer we ordered with the dinner. I was pretty surprised when I found out it was from Michigan. Who'd of thunk it. Chalk it up to global warming.

                      3. re: Citizen Rich

                        I couldn't agree more about the dress code. My husband and I ate here on Saturday for his birthday. We had the tasting menu and were not disappointed. I will say that Nicholas in Middletown still exceeds this place but it is a local gem. Our service was impeccable but then again the place was barely half full.

                        My husband and I were hardly dressed to the nines but we felt very over dressed. I had on a simple sun dress while he had on a button down and khakis. For the price tag it seems bizarre to me that diners would show up in shorts and tees.

                        My only other complaint would be the ambiance. No doubt it's minimalist and clean but it felt a bit sterile. It could use a bit of color or something.

                        1. re: dealop

                          dealop,

                          I totally agree with you about the dress issue. Unfortunately, there are always people who have no conception about what is appropriate for certain restaurants. Obviously, elements needs to put something about "dress code" on the website. For example, Eleven Madison Park, in NYC, states on its website: "We ask that you wear proper attire. No shorts, t-shirts or sneakers are allowed." That said, if elements is not full on a Saturday night, I'm sure that especially in this economy, management is not about to turn away business no matter how people are dressed. Sad!

                    2. Note: This "better (very!) late than never" review is dedicated to my pal, bgut1, who has waited so patiently for it. I hope he -- and anyone else who reads it -- will find it worth the wait.

                      "The Elements of elements"

                      We made the 45-minute drive to Princeton, arriving at elements on a Monday night in early June promptly for our 8 p.m. reservation. When we entered, there was no receptionist on duty; however, we were immediately greeted very cordially by one of the servers who, as he led us to the dining room, mentioned that we were the last reservation on the books for that evening. The dining room was not nearly full, so we were given out choice of tables. We could sit along the banquette at a table for two, or we could have a 4-top either just to the right of the entrance or smack in the middle of the room. Mr. R. didn’t have a preference, so I chose the latter.

                      Looking around the interior, it was hard to believe that we were sitting in what was once an auto repair garage. The immense two-story structure has been brilliantly reconfigured using a variety of materials and textures. Just past the entry foyer and under a staircase is a snug little bar area with four stools. The stairs leads up to a second story where, I understand, there is more seating and a glassed-in wine room.

                      The main dining room is smaller than photos I’ve seen made it appear. Most striking is the towering stone wall on the entrance side. The wall on the opposite side has tall milk glass windows (to block out the view of the neighboring gas station), and wall insets that hold a few vases, as well as an oblong wooden box filled with what looked like blades of grass. A very large modern painting to the rear of one of the side walls provides the only burst of vibrant color. Otherwise, earth tones rule. Flat carpeting in a brown and beige twist; beige fabrics for the pleated shades covering the windows facing towards the road; chairs – and very comfortable ones they are – covered in fabric with a light brown background and white pattern resembling very thin branches. Tablecloths are dispensed with in favor of plate mats in shades of brown. I found the décor pleasant and soothing. The lighting was appropriate, and the noise level was fine. But this was a slow Monday evening, so given the abundance of hard surfaces, the reports of a very high noise level when the room is full do not surprise me.

                      Mr. R. had decided not to have any wine. When he asked about a bottle of Perrier or Pellegrino, he was told there was only house sparkling water. Turned out to be a bargain at $3.50, and even though they poured a little more than one bottle, there was no additional charge. I settled for “Chateau Princeton.”

                      There are three menu options: a la carte, a 6-course tasting for $75, and a 9-course chef’s table. We ordered a la carte and shared all the dishes except for our main courses and the pre-dessert.

                      The bread basket arrived promptly after our orders were taken. Along with it came one of the banes of our restaurant experiences -- the dreaded dipping oil; however, our request for butter was promptly met. And once we tasted the basket’s contents, all was immediately forgiven with regard to the oil thingy. The elements in the basket were not your usual rolls or slices of bread; instead, there were crisp flat bread and bread sticks, plus focaccia topped with oven-dried tomatoes. All are baked in house, and all were insanely delectable and addictive. It was really difficult to stop ourselves from overdosing – not that we made much of an effort.

                      The meal started with a duo of amuses: a tart with Asiago cheese and spinach, and a slice of toasted bread topped with tasso ham, caramelized onions, and Asiago. Both were tasty and whetted our appetites for what was to come.

                      Our first courses were “Kindai Tuna with White Soy, Scallion, and Ginger” and “Wild King Salmon, Dauphinoise, Black Truffle, and Dill.” The Kindai is the rarest tuna. Cut into large dice, combined with the other elements, and shaped into a thick snake, it was silky and unctuous. As Mr. R. punned, “It was a dish one ‘kindai’ for!”

                      By comparison, the Wild King Salmon felt a bit pedestrian. The main element, the thick wedge of fish, had excellent flavor, but it had been cooked just a bit too much past medium-rare. On the other hand, the potatoes in the dauphinoise had not been cooked quite enough; therefore, though nicely cheesy, they were slightly too hard. The sauce, which turned out to be white truffle instead of black, was very tasty. Where the dill came into the picture, I couldn’t say.

                      Next came two dishes from the specials menu: “Dungeness Crab with a Salad of Pickled Vegetables” and “Spot Prawns with ‘’Tater Tots.’” Both dishes had us ooh-ing and aah-ing! The crab, cooked just right, had a lovely soft texture and sat jauntily atop the salad. Anyone who loves things pickled, as I do, would swoon over that salad as I did. The elements of this dish were an outstanding combination of textures and flavors.

                      The prawn dish showed both the Chef Scott Anderson’s cooking prowess and his sense of humor when giving it its name. It was an upscale version of fish ‘n’ chips. I’m not sure what method was employed to cook the prawns, but they were delicious, as were the chip-like potatoes, which had been formed into a little round cake. A third element on the plate was quenelle-shaped, white, and creamy, but I’m at a loss to remember what it was. Nevertheless, all the elements worked extremely well together. .

                      Mr. R.’s main course was “Black Bass, Laughing Bird Shrimp, Carrot, ‘Hummus,’ and Tempura.” He enjoyed this dish as he felt all the elements – and there were many – were delicious and worked well together. Two good-sized sautéed pieces of fish were laid on a bed of the shrimp and vegetables, surrounded by a carrot sauce and generous swaths of hummus. The assemblage was crowned with several sticks of tempuraed zucchini. I tasted a bit of the fish and found it to be moist and flavorful.

                      My main course, “Colorado Rack of Lamb, Rosti Potatoes, Butter Lettuce, Pickles and Tzatziki,” had one outstanding element, some others which were fine, one needing improvement, and one which seemed to be m.i.a.. The star of the plate was, appropriately, the lamb. Nobody could ever accuse Chef Anderson of being skimpy with his portions. There were three very generous-sized, very meaty chops, which he had cooked exactly to my medium-rare specification. They were succulent and had wonderful lamby flavor. No complaints from me about pickled vegetables showing up again, although when I bit into the single pickled pepper – I think it was a jalapeno – I was taken about by its heat. The sautéed butter lettuce was fine as well. On the other hand, the potatoes were a problem. As I was eating them, I completely forgot that they were described as “rosti.” It was only later, when I got home and looked at the menu again that I realized what they were supposed to be. And rosti as I know it, they were not. They had a consistency more like potato latkes. However, because they were plated beneath the sautéed greens and pickled vegetables, both of which exuded liquid, the potatoes lost any crispness they might have had leaving them quite mushy. That was unfortunate because the flavor was there and had they been plated so that they remained crisp, they actually would have been, if not rosti, fine potato latkes. As for the tzatziki, if there was any, its flavor was not discernible. And with so much else happening on the plate, it probably would have been flavor overload anyway.

                      Desserts were the weakest part of the meal. Not bad, but not of the caliber that sent me out into the night on a dessert high.

                      Another witty title for the pre-dessert: “Bacon and Eggs.” The egg’s top was cut off and layered inside were, first, bit of brioche French toast, then bacon-flavored egg custard, and at the top, maple-infused hot milt foam. Also on the plate was a small square of French toast topped with a crisp strip of bacon. It was a playful conception containing elements that co-exist naturally together. Nice, but I’m not really into breakfast for dinner, so I didn’t love it.

                      We shared one dessert, “Rhubarb: Cobbler, Shortcake, Mousse” – straightforward descriptions of the three elements on the plate. Nothing seriously wrong with any of them, just not especially memorable. Same goes for the small assortment of mignardises that put a coda on the meal.

                      Service throughout the evening was at a high level. Our captain, Justin, was a professional in every way that matters: pleasant, knowledgeable about the menu, and attentive. He mentioned to us that most of the staff, both in the kitchen and in the front of the house, had previously worked at the Ryland Inn together with Chef Anderson, who was chef de cuisine there before it closed.

                      Overall, this was a very enjoyable meal. I think elements is an excellent addition to the New Jersey dining scene, and we look forward to returning in the very near future.

                      elements
                      163 Bayard St., Princeton
                      Tel.: 609-924-0078
                      http://www.elementsprinceton.com

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: RGR

                        Wow and Bravo. It was definitely worth the wait. A perfect example on how a review should be written. Thanks RGR. Elements was already on the top of my "try list" and your review cements it in that place.

                        1. re: bgut1

                          Thanks for the compliment, b. :) I hope when you go, you have an excellent experience. I look forward to reading *your* review, which I have no doubt you will post in a far more timely fashion than I did. lol

                        2. re: RGR

                          Excellent, excellent report RGR! I too have been silently waiting for your post. ; )

                          We have not visited elements yet, but now, can't wait to do so. Chef Anderson's cuisine, professional service and a comfortable room - sounds like the elements for a truly outstanding experience.

                          1. re: Foody4life

                            Hey, Foody4life,

                            Sorry to have kept you waiting so long. :-( I really appreciate your kind words and am glad my review has helped you to decide about visiting elements. I sincerely hope you have a wonderful experience. Please report back -- and take all the time you need! ;) lol

                          2. re: RGR

                            RGR, thank you for this wonderful review. We have a special occasion coming up and I am currently going back and forth between elements in Princeton and Restaurant Lorena in Maplewood. Right now, I'm leaning towards elements.

                            1. re: ambrose

                              Have not been to Elements but Lorena's is one of my very favorite restaurants. Elements has to be pretty darn good to top Lorena's.

                              1. re: ambrose

                                Thanks, ambrose! I'm so pleased that you liked the review.

                                Truth be told, we have not been to Lorena's in ages; however, I'm sure Humberto's cuisine is as fine as ever. Scott Anderson's style is quite different. Nevertheless, as you can tell from my review, his cuisine is not too shabby. While I did think the desserts at elemetns were the weakest part of the meal, I found them to be more interesting conceptually than those at Lorena's, which I've always felt were fine but nothing special. Also, elements is more in line generally with upscale dining in that the meal starts with an amuse and ends with miniardieses, which are not offered at Lorena's. Finally, of course, elements has a liquor license while Lorena's is BYO.

                                When it comes to ambiance, these two restaurants couldn't be more different. Lorena's is very small, the decor is French charming, and tables are closely spaced, though not uncomfortably so. As you can see from my review, elements is the polar opposite -- large, spacious, and modern.

                                Since you are celebrating a special occasion, you might want to consider doing the chef's table. I didn't describe it in my review, but we got a chance to see where it's situated. Actually, there are two tables, each of which seats four, in a large alcove with an unobstructed view of the kitchen. Chef Anderson chats with diners before the meal, asks about their likes and dislikes, then proceeds to craft a meal specifically for them. Some of the dishes may come from the menu, others may not. In addition to be a talented chef, Anderson is very personable, and I'm sure this would be an enjoyable way to spend the evening.

                                Whichever restaurant you choose, I hope your special occasion dinner is wonderful. And please report back.

                                1. re: RGR

                                  RGR, I forgot to ask you who was cookin' on the Monday night you were there. Was it Chef Scott or was the sous chef, Joe Sparatta, in charge?

                                  Btw, I was just thinking that it's too bad mmgpsych isn't around to write a poem regarding your experience at elements! I bet it would have been a long one.

                                  Still haven't decided where to go for our special occasion dinner. Just to confound matters, the Pluckemin Inn is now in the mix!

                                  1. re: ambrose

                                    ambrose,

                                    Chef Scott Anderson was in charge when we were there.

                                    I can understand your dilemma. But it's kind of a nice one to have. :)

                                    I do miss mmgpsych. :-(

                            2. Well, this certainly seems to be Elements week!

                              Four of us returned this week (see earlier post in thread above) for a family celebration, so the dining notes were not as extensive as they might have been. But here goes anyway.

                              The downstairs room was full, but seemed even fuller because there were two 8+ tables underway. And yes, it was noisier than a place of this caliber should tolerate.

                              We ordered a bottle of Alsatian Pinot Noir, the 2005 Bott Freres. (This is one of the pet producers of Laurent Chapuis at Princeton Corkscrew.) I had enjoyed several of their whites and wanted to try a red, which turned out to be a good decision.

                              Totally agree with RGR on the interesting bread selection (though I don’t take issue with the olive oil). They then brought out a three-part amuse-bouche, comprising opah sashimi on cream cheese and herbs, a minced bluefish salad on a bread crisp, and a little cup of broccoli soup. All were fine, especially the soup. One of us later had the Jersey corn soup as a starter, and I had a taste of that, too.

                              These two soups, combined with the vichyssoise referenced in my earlier post, have convinced me that these guys get vegetable-based soup like no one else. Totally creamy, yet the pure fresh vegetable essence shines through. Amazing.

                              In addition to the Jersey corn soup, the other starters were the market salad, the Portuguese octopus, and the grilled sardines. Everyone was happy. The corn soup was garnished with spiced popcorn, a cute touch. The octopus was gorgeous and cooked nicely. The sardines were filleted and served with chorizo slices and wilted escarole.

                              The mains were veal chop, local scallop, and Griggstown spring chicken. One of us decided to go with two appetizers instead, which were the vegetable terrines and the Dungeness crab. The veal chop was beautiful, cooked medium rare, garnished with sun-dried tomatoes and Thai basil, and served with a massive spinach raviolo filled with mascarpone and herbs. The scallops were laid out so as to look like a roll, served with broccoli and trumpet mushrooms. The chicken was as ever, cooked perfectly. The terrine appetizer comprised two smallish terrines, one of summer vegetables and the other of beets and goat cheese, and the crab salad contained lots of crab.

                              We closed with a cheese plate and two orders of the chocolate composition, which included a soufflé, a sorbet, and chocolate “air.” The chocolate eaters were delighted. The cheese plate was sourced from Valley Shepherd but seemed a little skimpy. Also enjoyed a glass of the Hidalgo fino sherry.

                              Mignardises then appeared, white chocolate truffles filled with a passion fruit (?) cream, little brownies topped with whipped cream, tiny muffins, and squares of a raspberry gel. And on our way out we were presented with slices of pound cake wrapped to take home.

                              The service was attentive and professional though not especially engaged, and the pace of the meal was leisurely.

                              Everything at this meal served to reinforce my earlier conclusion regarding Elements, “the potential to set a new standard in Princeton and environs.”

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: MercerChow

                                Mercer - Excellent review. Thank you.

                                1. re: MercerChow

                                  M.C.,

                                  I agree with my pal, bgut, that your review is excellent. I'm really pleased to hear that your second visit was as positive as your first. All too often, we have a good meal at a new restaurant only to be seriously disappointed the next time, i.e., the problem of inconsistency. After reading your review, I'm less fearful of that happening at elements and am really looking forward to our next visit there.

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Well, now we've been three times, most recently as the very appreciative guests of bloggers The Wandering Epicures. They don't get out to The Jerz much, but made the trip to try Elements.

                                    We had the six-course tasting menu, and their post provides immense detail and nice photos. I really have nothing to add:

                                    http://epicures.wordpress.com/2009/08...

                                    1. re: MercerChow

                                      M.C.,

                                      Happy to hear that your third time still charmed you, and that your "wandering" cohorts were equally satisfied with their first visit. (I have read his blog before.) Chef Anderson and his team -- Justin is a gem! -- deserve to get more wide-spread recognition, so it still amazes me that there has not been a review of elements by a major publication. Perhaps, I missed them? In any case, it's high on my NJ "return to" list.

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        This is part of my post from a different thread. It was recommended that I re-post it here:

                                        I also got to try Elements the other day for lunch. Some good points and bad points. I liked the room and the service but was somewhat disappointed with the size and pricing of the dishes. For example the lunch appetizer of oxtail ravioli consisted of two small ravioli with some broth and a few mushrooms. At $13 for the app I felt a bit disappointed. The lack of flavor in the broth had me searching for the non-existent salt shaker while the lack of oxtail in the ravioli had me proclaiming "where's the beef." On the other hand, the entree of atlantic cod with romesco, chorizo, cipollini onions and mushrooms was excellent. The fish was prepared perfectly and paired very well with the romesco sauce. Two errors in preparation however detracted from the dish: the chorizo was leathery and served cold while a few inedible mushroom stems (I thought I was chewing on wet cardboard) where included. All in all, not a bad meal and while the kitchen shows both promise and talent, I'm not rushing to return.

                                        1. re: bgut1

                                          b.,

                                          Sorry to hear that your experience at elements was disappointing.

                                          I recently had the same problem with chorizo when we had dinner a Pampano, in NYC. You can check out what I said about it here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                          1. re: RGR

                                            Hey, RGR! When are we going to read your column in the NY Times??? haa haa! I LOVE your flicr pictures! Oh my, makes me wanna drive right through the Lincoln tunnel and go eat!

                                            I wanted to tell you I think those pictures are simply marvelous and I thank you ever so much for starting it!

                                            1. re: Angelina

                                              Thanks so much, Angelina. I truly appreciate your compliments. :)

                                              While you won't be seeing me in the "NY Times" any time soon -- or ever! lol -- there is a place where you can read my "columns" about food (dining out and eating in) and other topics.

                                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com


                                              .

                                              1. re: RGR

                                                Thanks, RGR! I can't wait to see you soon at Barnes & Nobel doing book signings!! ha ha! Great job, you are very informative and write really well.

                                                All my best as always! xo

                                                1. re: Angelina

                                                  Congratulations to Elements for being named to the 2010 Opinionated Dining Guide - 30 Most Important Restaurants in the United States. Although ranked #30, they are the only New Jersey restaurant named to the list and join such heavy hitters as the French Laundry, Per Se, Masa and Eleven Madison Park. In fact, one of the best meals of my life was enjoyed at spot #29, O Ya in Boston. Impressive to say the least.

                                                  http://www.opinionatedaboutdining.com...

                                                  1. re: bgut1

                                                    b.,

                                                    I find it interesting and quite astonishing that Plotniki has been extremely enamoured of elements, wrote a rave review, and then followed up with an additional post about one of the dishes there which eventually landed on his personal Best Dishes of 2009 list.

                                                    Frankly, though elements is a very good restaurant, I hardly think it belongs on a list of the 30 most *important* US restaurants -- emphasis on the word "important." Just sticking with NJ for the moment, do you honestly think it's a better and/or more important restaurant than Nicholas? And I'm not sure even Nicholas deserves to be on that list. (Btw, Plotniki hated Nicholas.) Then, if we look at restaurants throughout the country, don't you think there are those which didn't make the list that many would consider much more important than elements? Something seems really off here.

                                                    I can't help but wonder if Plotniki found a way to jigger the survey results in order to make this happen. Very strange!

                                                    P.S. At least you said that you had one of the best meals of your life at #29. I don't think either of us could say the same about elements. Not even close!

                                                    1. re: RGR

                                                      R - I agree that the list is somewhat strange and can think of many more deserving "important" restaurants that should've been mentioned. To be honest, I would have never heard of this list had EMP not posted about being named to it on its facebook page. In reviewing it, I was surprised to see Elements mentioned. As you know, I wasn't enamored with my one meal at the restaurant. Nevertheless, I thought its inclusion noteworthy enough to mention it on this board.

                                                      1. re: bgut1

                                                        b., I certainly wasn't faulting you for mentioning it. :) I am very familiar with Plotniki's restaurant guide project. It started a few years ago at which time, I submitted ratings for a couple of restaurants. Didn't submit any for the current guide, but I remain on his e-mail list and do read his blog.

                                2. has anyone been here recently? I was thinking about having our anniversary dinner here.