Table scraps 

Always feeling in my Element

I rediscovered Elements again.

I was caught up in my fresh, hand-pressed a.m. orange juice ritual.

Okay more like afternoon, but breakfast in the a.m. or p.m. is in its element at this urban tapas bar.

I never get up early enough to snag a booth or table seating, so I instead pull up a stool to the bar for my standard frittata.

Sometimes asparagus, spinach and Portobello mushroom, other times pancetta, roasted red peppers and goat cheese fold their way into the egg formula with potato tartlet and crème fraîche, artisan bread and apricot preserves, and fruit smoothie shot. This unique spin on the eggs, bacon, orange wedge and hashbrown standard makes mornings worthwhile.

So wrapped up in a leisurely breakfast with cravings spreading beyond the calendar of Sunday brunch, and so caught up in getting my breakfast card punched for a free breaky, the restaurant’s nighttime persona was lost in the smell of fresh coffee.

But the faint clink of martinis began to chime once again after trying to brainstorm a casual, yet trendy and quality night out without breaking the bank.

My Partner and I toasted a Whistler Pale Ale and a vanilla-infused vodka, hand pressed lemon juice martini to the nighttime tapas parlour.

A little pluckier in the p.m. hours, I managed to squeeze into a table for two rather than sit at the bar.

Even though the majority of table seating in the open room is tight side by side, the music and full-restaurant buzz kept our conversation and dining experience all to ourselves.

New menu items teased, including the rack of lamb with Greek salad tower, but we each picked our favourites, resulting in one of those rare perfect orders.

Don’t let the Whistler’s Best 2006 Tapas accolade fool you. General manager April Solonyka may bill the menu as tapa plate sizes, but my only mistake of the evening was underestimating the plate sizes and over estimating my appetite.

A fresh take on a starter salad, we folded up lettuce wraps with mango salsa, pulled pork, roasted cashews and noodles. Combined with the to-die-for two-tone frites (yam and sweet potato fries) with garlic dip, it was the perfect starter and, I made a mental note, lunch as well.

The goat cheese plate followed. I didn’t recognize the dish at first. Talk about Extreme Makeover, the once raw goat cheese with greens and crustinis was replaced with greens ornamented with fresh grapefruit and two golden balls of fried goat cheese. The velvety warm smooth cheese and citrus partner gave this tired dish a refreshing facelift. However, the honey dressing came on a bit like over plumped Collagen-injected lips — a little too sweet even for me. Next time (and there will definitely be a next time), I would order the warm honey on the side.

My appetite was well served by this point, but two more dishes cajoled me on.

Chicken skewers were dipped in Thailand memories. The sweet smell of coconut announced the dish’s arrival even before I looked up from my previous plate scraped clean. Curls of green onion and red pepper accessorized the skewers.

Every Elements plate is beautifully presented with executive chef Kate Brewster paying attention to shape and colour as well as temperature and taste.

The deep-fried tuna and salmon sushi rolls are a great illustration of this. The fish is cold while the seaweed wrap and crust is hot, and the pink and red fish is wrapped into a visually pleasing yin and yang swirl.

We ordered a second glass of wine as we sat back to look at the grand finale, the beef tenderloin medallion.

The cut of meat, flawless in taste and perfect medium-rare preparation, was further enhanced by a rich demi-glace and wasabi-infused potato tower. I could have been sitting at Whistler’s finest dining room with this dish.

But that is what makes Elements the gem that it is. Quality ingredients and presentation, knowledgeable and friendly service staff (ask for James Dean, Carrick Bates or Brenda Murray), and funky welcoming décor — and all minus the fine dining prices.

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