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What's so special about Elements Bistro? (West Hartford)

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I heard good things about it and so wifey and I went last Sunday evening to check it out. It was a 1 hour wait at 6:30 and we left to go elsewhere with our hungry 2 year old. The consensus of folks on the line was that long waits are a daily ritual there.

The menu on the web site shows standard American fare and the plates I saw on the tables looked fine though gave no hint of anything special. But from the lines you'd think either Thomas Keller just opened an Elmwood outpost, or that the food was free.

What's the deal with this place? Anyone have anything to share?

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  1. It's nice to know that there are still restaurants (in this bad economy) with a one hour wait on a daily basis.

    1. It's the same deal as Plan B or Cheesecake Factory. Just the latest West Hartford yuppie place to see and be seen. Food nothing special.

      1. I can think of two things that make this place special - 1) there is no other fine/bistro dining in Elmwood and 2) Chef Michael Kelly (Azul, Sauce). I stll have dreams about the food at Azul.

        4 Replies
        1. re: citybrunette

          ...and that's what makes the world go 'round, because I have nightmares about the food at Azul. To me, Michael Kelly will always be about Max on Main and Civic Cafe. Azul and Sauce have been his slip-ups as opposed to his resume lead-offs. I suspect Elements is just a way to pay the bills until something more interesting comes up. In this economy, that could be a while. Certainly not a menu or an atmosphere that will allow him to spread his wings.

          1. re: citybrunette

            Fine dining or bistro? Calling a place both is something of an oxymoron. Anyway, Fernwood and Tapas both come to mind for people wanting something good and affordable in Elmwood. Elements is just the typical West Hartford 'flocking to the new' syndrome.

            1. re: ratbuddy

              I'll stick my two cents in here, agreeing with ratbuddy. There is nothing special at all about Elements. Its ok. It is the allure of the new in ever so trendy West Hartford, even though Elements is in Elmwood, which snobby West Hartfordites don't even consider part of the town. Any road. I think a good debate here would be whether Elements is better than the Corner Pug, also just ok, which less than a mile down the road. I would give the nod to the Pug but I HATE, those lattice cut french fires they serve. They are extruded potato products. Ugh. So I rate it a tie.

              1. re: chrism23

                Actually the food there is above average, consistent and is homemade. their smoked grilled wings are awesome, and their burgers are first rate. I have eaten there twice and have not been disappointed. Also Mike kelley is not the chef there, Art Bonee is.Mike is just a line cook, nothing else.

          2. I wondered the same thing. The signage out front makes it look more like an office supply store than a restaurant.

            The trick is that they've got a lot of friends creating buzz about the place, and they've invested in some well-placed advertising.

            It says something about the people of West Hartford, what with the way they're willing to wait in Disneyland-esque lines for a bite to eat...

            2 Replies
            1. re: shaogo

              Have you actually been there? You're making it sound like they are somehow getting by undeservedly. In fact, most of the comments here have been very shy on details. I find that Elements offers a very good formula: homemade food with some interesting twists (the house salad features a southwestern taste with poblano peppers and an ancho dressing with goat cheese fritters, for example), a nice but not stuffy atmosphere, and more importantly, reasonable prices (for West Hartford). You don't pay the same premium you do in West Hartford Center - few entrees at Elements are over twenty dollars, and most are between fifteen and seventeen dollars, with many options under ten (the sandwiches). I have found the food consistently good - the last thing I had was a pulled pork sandwich that was juicy with a very flavorful bbq sauce (homemade), accompanied by jicima slaw, which was very flavorful and interesting. I'm happy to see the place succeeding, and it seems well-deserved.

              1. re: ericurus

                We have indeed been there -- once.

                Here are details: The atmosphere, well, what atmosphere there is, is loud. I don't want to comment much on the food. There's a definite tex-mex influence going on here, and I don't care for tex-mex. It does seem to be very popular, however, so they're giving everyone what they want. I had a steak and it was worth what I paid for it... no more. My date's pasta with broccoli was greasy and salty.

                Did I say the place was loud?

                Hey, they're making money and indeed it's heartening to see a success story in these times.

            2. Agreed with ChrisM.
              Especially since Elements received a favorable write-up in the Courant, all the trendy West Hartfordites flock there. Shame, as they ruined a fun Friday afternoon happy hour spot.