Last night, after two days off, it was time to resume the restaurant week circuit! Michael is out of town for a book conference down in Texas, so I’d gotten my mum a ticket to come with me to see the fabulous Seth Meyers (of SNL). And what better place to dine than in our up-and-coming downtown area at the new-ish Elements Contemporary Cuisine in Gateway Center.
And, in honor of my mum joining me on an Achievement, she has agreed to help me guest-blog on this entry! (Her comments will be in italics, and mine will be in regular text.)
For by birthday gift, my daughter took me to dinner at Elements during Restaurant Week. It was my first trip to the restaurant and I truly enjoyed it.
We started out at happy hour with a group of Yelp-ers. Ever since our trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake with Jenn and Michael and touring several of the wineries there, I have had an increased interest in learning about wines. Since I like wines that are somewhat sweet, the waitress at Elements recommended a Reisling that I really enjoyed.
Elements has a happy-hour Monday through Friday from 5-7pm, featuring $5 wine, well drinks, and beer, and I got a glass of their house malbec to start the night off. Also, the owner brought out some complimentary pizza for us Yelpers to enjoy with our drinks. I have to say, this pizza crust was awesome! The perfect combination of crispy and doughy, and those mushrooms were amazing.
We had dinner reservations at 6pm, so we said goodbye to our Yelp friends and were seated at a booth for our meal. We ordered from the Restaurant Week special tasting menu. Jenn and I both picked different courses so we, of course, enjoyed tasting samples of each others’ meals.
First we split an order of calamari, which was absolutely the best I have ever had. The squid was so tender, it almost melted in my mouth, and the light amount of breadcrumb coating was slightly crispy. It was flavored with parsley and tarragon and the side of tartar-like remoulade also did not disappoint.
This was by far the leggiest squid I’ve ever seen. Oh man was it good, and everyone who reads this blog knows what a nut I am about calamari. The whole time, I kept wishing I could have magically transported a little handful of the rings to Michael down in Texas.
Elements also has a nice variety of wines available by the glass or by the bottle. I was pleased to see some California zin on there, so I had a glass (training for upcoming Zin Fest in March, you know!).
After our appetizer, the courses of the tasting menu began to arrive. I got the mixed greens with viniagrette. It was excellent, and I loved the addition of pine nuts and pomegranate seeds – very unique.
My mum decided to try the roasted squash soup. This was also incredibly unique. Our waiter, Jim, brought a soupless-bowl to the table. In the bottom of the bowl was a lump of crab meat. Then, he brought out what looked like a long-stemmed tea kettle, but instead of tea, the soup came out of the spout, covering the crab meat. This soup was delicious and creamy, with the slightest hint of chives, and the lump crab accompanied it perfectly. And we’ve never seen soup come out of a tea kettle like that before!
And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, our entrees arrived. I got the Amish chicken with polenta, sage stuffing, and cranberry compote. I’m a huge fan of polenta, as it’s somewhere between two of my favorite things: cornbread and mashed potatoes. Mixed with the cranberry, it was almost like eating a cranberry cornbread muffin alongside my chicken. The chicken was so meaty and the skin added just that little crunch to make it feel like it was a big indulgence. I’m not a huge fan of sage stuffing, but this was good. However, as full as I was, I had to pick and choose how much I could finish, and the sage stuffing fell to the yummy polenta and cranberries in the end.
We ended the meal with a sampler of 4 small desserts. My favorite was the filled cream puff with a glaze of chocolate icing. My favorite was the chocolate fudgey peanut thing second from the right. The plate looks small, but it was just enough to top off a great dinner!
Elements was wonderful. They were excellent hosts for the Yelp happy hour, the service was wonderful (our server Jim even asked the chef questions on our behalf when we were wondering about the different seasonings in some of the dishes), and the food was delicious. Another plus about Elements is that they’re one of the Pittsburgh restaurants who believes in the importance of ‘farm to table,’ so you know you’re getting fresh ingredients from local farms. I can’t wait to go back again, and I know we’ll be making our way down there soon – they have different happy hour specials every night of the week, including 50% off wine bottles on Wednesday nights. I guess you know what day I’ll be returning!
Thank you to my mum for helping me with this blog entry, and for being excellent dinner company in the absence of my normal Partner In Crime. So far, we’re three for three on excellent Restaurant Week spots, with the fourth and final to come this afternoon. You have two more days to indulge (Saturday and Sunday), so please, don’t let the snow scare you off from checking out some of what Pittsburgh has to offer!