Last night, however, my parents took us out to elements, a local restaurant I may have heard of before we went--the name tugged at the fringes of my mind. I loved it. It was, of course, experientially pleasing, but not only because I was with good company. You could tell that the chef/owner was meticulous in his attention to detail, from food to decor. It was the food, though, that made my night.
First they started us off with some artisan breads. And not just the kind of "artisan" where they tack on the label half-heartedly. There was focaccia with three distinct seasonings/colorings/toppings; smooth, thin, crisp bread sticks; swirled bread sticks with a flaky pastry texture; rich, whole-grain rye bread; and small, spherical whole-grain rolls with a honey glaze on top. I could have eaten just the bread and been more than satisfied for the night.
Then they brought out a taster plate for each of us--this was on the house, simply to tantalize us. Some of us got a fried seafood something with dry seaweed shreds over raw scallions/onion with the tiniest little tomatoes I've ever seen. Others got a spoonful of cold, smooth potato soup; a tiny slice of toast with a dollop of some of the best guacamole I've ever had; and a quarter-sized pastry disk with roasted red bell peppers and a dab of goat cheese on top. At this point, I was already sold forever.
I ordered a salad, or "a composed salad," as it was titled in the menu. There was a creamy peachy base, and then goat cheese, hazelnut, Mangalitsa jamon, finely squared peaches, barley, and a poppyseed sponge cake all arranged beautifully on a long, thin slate-like plate. My dad got a melon soup (with those tiny tomatoes again for garnish). It also had a very mild, refreshing something with an almost ginger-like taste. My brother a garden salad. Pfah! Garden salad, you say? Which happened to include vegetable purees, Mangalitsa lardo, and pepato cheese. I don't even know how to pronounce those. My mom ordered something wonderful that I can't remember, and N got an eggplant soup with tapioca pearls and a kick to knock your socks off.
Then there were the entrees. I don't need to itemize everything we got, but suffice it to say that we all tried each others meals and everyone was impressed all around. I do have to mention that N had fried broccoli (that wasn't greasy) to accompany his dish, which was spectacular. There was also dessert--a sharp, soft cheese with tomato puree and corn and toast; and then a more traditional chocolate mousse. Did I mention that everything was well-portioned so that we didn't feel bloated afterward? There was also a good presence of veggies--all of the dishes were nicely balanced.
I made a special request of N that this be our "special place," or at least my special place. Love.