I’ve been itching to go to Elements restaurant in Princeton, NJ pretty much since it opened back in 2008. It’s since then garnered all kinds of accolades, most recently as the best farm-to-table restaurant in New Jersey, according to Travel and Leisure. When our fourth wedding anniversary conveniently fell on a Wednesday this year, I was able to grab a reservation at short notice – an impossibility on the weekend.
We decided to push the boat out and go for the chef’s tasting menu, and the wine pairings for good measure. For maximum tasting variety, Stu opted for the tier 1 wines, and I for the tier 2 ones.
We started off with some excellent sparkling wines and some smoked quail eggs. The sous-chef himself stopped by to deliver the eggs in their nest, and instructed us to just pick them up with our fingers and pop them in our mouths. Biting into them was a revelation – the chef had somehow managed to keep the yolks custardy, while imparting a smoked Gouda-like flavor to them.
The second course arrived – this is where my first thought was, the chef’s been to Noma , and he took notes. The dark brown mushrooms we were presented with blended seamlessly into a tray lined with moss and tree branches.
Next up: something else that wasn’t on the menu, which I’m now struggling to recall – I believe it involved fried chicken skin and was rather tasty as well. The chicken-themed presentation involved broken egg shells and chicken wire.
After our three amuse bouches, we finally got to the menu…
First up, the scallops: thinly sliced and delicately flavored, a pleasure to eat. Staying with the seafood theme, we then moved on to crab with buttermilk foam – another home run. Continuing with the theme, the fluke had to be one of the prettiest dishes of the night, sprinkled with elderflower blossoms.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to use your imagination when it comes to the roasted turnip – I was too busy eating and forgot to take a picture.
We then made a foray into poultry with some exquisite squab, followed by earthier themes: mushrooms in various guises, then some oh-so-good wagyu beef.
At this point, in spite of the tiny portions, my stomach was beginning to feel a little strained. Luckily, all that was left was the sorrel sorbet (tart and refreshing) and the farmer’s cheese ice cream (rich and not too sweet).
I’ve neglected the wines we drank throughout this, mainly because they weren’t listed on the menu and I couldn’t tell you which ones they were, but they were all delightful, and the sommelier was a pleasure to interact with.
The verdict: We had a great time and would definitely go again. Given the price tag, this isn’t somewhere you’d go on a regular basis, but it’s a wonderful treat for a special occasion. Both the presentation and the food itself are exquisite. The menu changes frequently, giving you something new to look forward to every time.