Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hot Dog Review: Elements

This week’s review is focused on an amazing restaurant called Elements, placed inside The Sanctuary Resort and Spa on Camelback Mountain. My boyfriend, Andrew, and I ate there for the first time while his parents were in town visiting, and were lucky enough to be seated against a window overlooking the sunset on a beautiful Saturday evening.

Elements offers an extremely diverse menu, with both vegetarian and gluten-free menu, they also have innovated choices like in-house smoked meat and a table-side raw bar featuring fresh shellfish. Some of their selections are a bit on the pricy side, but is worth every penny once they reach your taste buds.

We each started with a cocktail of choice from the Jade Bar signature cocktail menu. I sipped on the “Gin and Germain”, a twist on the classic Gin and Tonic. They use their own house made tonic water, and top it off with lime peel and St. Germain liqueur (my favorite, remember?). Andrew ordered the “Fiery Mandarin”, a mix of vodka, jalapeño, orange zest, and cranberry, not too spicy, just enough to give it a little kick.

They brought us out fresh, hot bread with olive oil while we perused the menu, and decided against ordering an appetizer, though the Fiery Calamari sure was calling my name. As we made our way down the menu, I firmly decided on the Miso Glazed Scottish Salmon. Cooked medium, it was served atop sesame udon noodles, ginger bok choy, baby carrots, and a delicious broth. I had to remind myself to slow down, or else I would have cleaned my plate in about 3 minutes.

Andrew chose the Soy Braised Short Rib, with the largest bone, left on the meat, which made for an excellent plating presentation. The short rib just fell right off of the bone and onto your fork with such ease. You barely noticed the farm fresh vegetables and green cabbage plated under the massive serving of short rib.

Also at the table were the Pan Seared Scallops, featured with a minted crab salad and a carrot curry butter. There were three decently sized scallops, and were oohed and ahhed with each and every bite that Andrew’s mom took. His dad decided on the night’s special, The Grouper, which I did not taste myself, but was easily seen to be enjoyed as we made conversation waiting for the sunset.

Perched atop Camelback Mountain, Elements has an amazing location and a unique setting.  With tables both inside and outside, there are breath-taking views of the entire valley, as well as the Sanctuary’s infinity pool. It’s hard not to feel pampered as you dine on fresh local organic produce and feel on top of the world.

As we continued to watch the sun set down for the day, we weren’t sure we had room for dessert after our rich and decadent entrees. However, the second we got a look at the dessert menu, we immediately made room for the Chocolate Turtle Mason Jar and the Buttermilk Panna Cotta. The first was a large mason jar complete with warm chocolate brownie, cashew brittle, vanilla ice cream, and topped with a malt caramel crunch. The latter was a passion fruit and blueberry layered panna cotta (has the texture of yogurt), with a white chocolate crumble, and a side of two crisp lavender cookies.

As if the two sinful desserts weren’t enough, when our server brought us our bill, she brought along with her warm chocolate chip and Chinese 5-spice cookies fresh out of the oven. They almost reminded me of Christmas time, with the warmth of the 5-spice and the ooey-gooey chocolate chips…mmmmm. 

All in all, Elements is a great place to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, and definitely a great way to show out of towners the beauty that is in this desert we call home. They put a modern twist on elegant classic food, while keeping flavor and experience in mind. IF you’re willing to splurge a bit on a meal, then by all means make this your next reservation!

**All images courtesy of http://www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/food/menus.html**

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