Elements is one of those places that simply feels good the moment you step inside. It’s intangible; you just like it. At least that’s how it seemed to us the night we had dinner there. Accordingly, we had high expectations that they could transform those feelings into a memorable eating experience. We were not disappointed.
The interior of Elements is barn-like, completely open with exposed rafters, hanging objects and lights. At the back, a huge glass partition separates the dining space from the work area. We get to watch the kitchen staff, looking involved but not stressed, confidently preparing our food, as well as attending to the sizable catering business that Elements runs.
We were seated at a comfortable banquette near the door, giving us a view of everything. The bar is busy with people from the county admin center who probably hang out here, and in the main dining room, other folks, just out for a meal on a weekday evening. We could see outside, straight across to the beautiful Santa Barbara County tower all lit up. It was a beautiful night and some people dined on the veranda.
As we perused the menu, all manner of tantalizing items popped out at us. While Mila, our soft-spoken and knowledgeable server, got our wine, we thought about our meal, but we definitely wanted input from Mila before deciding. We had ordered two glasses of wine: a Pinot Noir from the Napa winery Domain Chandon, and a cabernet from a South Australia winery.
At Mila’s suggestion, we started with the Grilled Abalone Salad with Tangerine Dressing. Elements is a locavore restaurant, attempting to purchase the freshest quality ingredients locally, and its salad ingredients are designated as coming from BD Farms, in nearby Ojai.
Mila next brought us the Charcuterie Plate, consisting of entirely house-made meat items, including pancetta with quail egg, duck pate, terrine of duck with beet, and duck sausage with mustard (also house-made), along with olives, breseola, grapefruit and two cheeses. Accompanied by their excellent onion rosemary bread with an incredible crust, we were happily content sampling each and every delectable combination.
Mila returned to us shortly with a Seared Scallop from the Raw Bar Menu. Readers of our reviews will know that Dennis rarely passes up an opportunity to savor another scallop. Elements respect for the subtleties of this delicate mollusk was very much evidenced by their cooking it to near perfection with a slight crisp on the outside and a moist center within. Thinly sliced and placed on a vegetable plate, it was an excellent presentation and easy to share.
For entrees, we decided to hoof it. No, not leave without finishing, but ordering some big, hearty meats. Marilyn opted for the Filet Mignon with Purple Potatoes, Local Asparagus, and Pasilla Pepper with a Madeira Mushroom Sauce. She was delighted that her filet was presented exactly as she ordered it, medium rare, and accompanied by two of her favorite side dishes.
Lesspopular than beef, pork requires more work to get it right. Leaner and denser, it can turn tough and chewy if not cooked to the correct internal temperature. When prepared right, a pork chop is a tasty, less fatty alternative to beef, which is why Dennis chose it. Thermometers were properly calibrated and his thick Pork Chop with Wild Mushrooms came out of the kitchen at its juicy, pink peak. It was accompanied by Homemade Applesauce and Sweet Onion Mashed Potato.
After taking our time to enjoy these excellent entrees, we were ready to go for a long walk. However, weaklings that we are, when Mila handed us the dessert menu, we found it impossible to pass up their too enticing sweets. We shared the Fried Granny Smith Apple Pie a la Mode, with caramel, cinnamon and sugar on top and their house-made vanilla gelato on the side. Incidentally, it is baked to order, what a treat! And we also shared a Warm Gratin of Fruits with Burnt Ginger Crème and Farmer’s Market Syrup! FYI – we didn’t eat everything…but it was fun trying!
We left Elements full and happy. Not only because of the great food and service, but knowing that our initial instincts were right. Many promises are made when you enter a new restaurant, but few are kept. We got the feeling that the Elements owners and highly professional staff understands there is an intrinsic contract between kitchen and customer and strives to honor it at all times. At least, that’s the way it felt to us, a winning combination of “elements” that made a delightful dining experience.
Elements Restaurant Bar Catering
129 East Anapamu Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101