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“Elegant and Chic”
Review of Elements

Elements
Ranked #35 of 195 Restaurants in Princeton
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $40 - $60
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Local cuisine, Large groups, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Breakfast, Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Leigh Avenue
Transit: NJ Transit to Princeton Station, once arrived, an additional 1.5 mile walk or 3 minute cab ride.
Vero Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
96 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Elegant and Chic”
Reviewed April 30, 2013

Elements is a few years old in Princeton, but it is still one of the best. I am reviewing it having dined there for the first time shortly after it opened but it is still a terrific place for outstanding nouveau cuisine and and elegant atmosphere. It is not a place to bring young children due to the expense and ambience.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Brian F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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201 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    88
    48
    31
    21
    13
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Great for a one-time splurge, wouldn't want to go more than that”
Reviewed April 27, 2013

For a couple years now I had wanted to try Elements as an alternative to the Melting Pot as a special occasion restaurant. This time I booked the reservation for my wife's birthday. To be honest I did have my concerns about the restaurant before going- I read a ton of reviews on yelp, tripadvisor, etc.. and they ranged from terrible to exquisite, and I was prepared to be spending a hefty sum.

To start off, just entering the driveway was somewhat of a challenge- extremely difficult when traveling southbound on 206 and the one way signage completely threw things off, requiring a turning down a side-street, pulling a u turn, and then heading Northbound, but once we got in the lot the Valet was friendly (there was no charge for the valet, but a tip was certainly appreciated). I felt it difficult to give the attendant anything more than $5 considering the car was parked right in front of the building.

We were promptly greeted by a pair of hostesses and taken to our table. When I had made the reservation they had asked if I was celebrating anything special, and they made it a point to know that we were throughout the evening which my wife appreciated very much.

I'll echo some of the concerns regarding the ambient noise level in the restaurant- for as small as it is it seemed to be quite loud to the point I had to lean so far forward to hear my wife talk I felt like I was hard-of-hearing. But as the first hour or so passed (sometime after 9pm) the noise level got better as the patrons started leaving. The other design "flaw" I need to point out is the bench style seating at the table we were at. The individual chair was very comfortable, but if you weren't brought up in a finishing school and taught the art of perfect posture and sitting perfectly straight for hours at a time the bench seat became very uncomfortable as was evident by my wife and I switching seats halfway through service (she started at the bench first).

I can't speak enough to the quality of service we were provided. Some have said that their waiter bordered on being too intrusive and too "knowledgeable." But my wife and I couldn't have been more pleased and impressed by our waiter Mark. He was attentive, conversational and you could hear by the way he answered our questions that he had a genuine passion for the industry, his job, and his Elements' cuisine.

Speaking of cuisine, one doesn't go to Elements to sample the plain, the boring, and the usual. One goes to Elements for a truly unique experience in flavors, textures, plating, and to try things you've never tried before. For me it was the foi gras (duck liver? no thanks) - I must admit I was inspired by an episode of Bizzare Foodds with Andrew Zimmerman, well Andrew I think you need to come to Elements to see how good it truly can be. My wife and I both had the four course option and each dish was just as terrific, if not more so than the previous including the bread! The 48hr short rib, their signature dish, was so tender and succulent, albeit on the verge of being too salty, it almost melted in my mouth, it'll be difficult to eat a short rib from anywhere else. One major downfall about the cuisine for me was the desert. Upon Mark's recommendation I had the "cream pie" and my wife had the "chocolate." Unfortunately Elements' version of a cream pie is anything but and is a "deconstructed" (their words, not mine) version to a point where I truly felt I was eating a bowl of birdseed. My wife got a good chuckle when I expressed my disappointment. I sampled my wife's as well, I wasn't that impressed either, the cake was pretty dry, but it was more tolerable than mine.

My only other "beef" with Elements, non pun intended, was the outrageous markup on alcohol. I had seen their wine menu online and knew instantly I was going to have to find something by the glass and nurse it throughout the night. Now here's an interesting point, on their menu next to the wine descriptions they have two numbers that go something like this 7/14. Erroneously, and probably showing my ignorance (although I've never seen anything like it before) I just assumed that it was $7 a glass and $14 for two seems reasonable enough if dining as a couple no? Come to find out when the bill came and was charged $56 for four glasses, that my assumption was false. I should have known something was up when their sommelier came around and asked if I wanted a half or full glass. Never in my life have I been asked if I wanted a half glass! Not to mention, that their "full" glass is pretty stingy. I mean lets get serious, I can get a very highly rated bottle of Riesling by Wine Spectator from my local liquor store for under $14. Too bad Elements isn't BYOB otherwise it would be perfect! I ended up not pressing the matter given the quality of service we had through the night and the gratuitous accompaniments with our dinner.

All in all I would highly recommend Elements if you're able to blow at least $250 for two people (the four course seemed to be the best value) but I won't be able to do that for some time again.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Graham B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Yardley, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
75 reviews
52 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Five Star in Princeton”
Reviewed April 23, 2013

Last Saturday a gentleman friend and I went to Elements. A bit of confusion when we first arrived at 8:15pm w/a reservation. A seat not available. Oh, yes, it was available. Oh, wait a few mintues. Yes, you can follow me. Hold on...sorry. Ok. It's ready. We were seated against the far left wall. I had the bench seat under the outside window. Horribly uncomfortable b/c the padded bench seat had slipped back and I was perched half on the padded seat and half off the seat. So, a balancing act. I had called ahead to ask if it was a BYO. Yes, the young woman said I cld bring my own and they wld cork it free, but the 2nd bottle wld require a corkage fee of $25. Ok. We were only having 1 bottle. Alas, not the true story. If you buy a bottle of wine from THEM that applied. My friend and I decided upon the 4-course tasting. The food was exceptional. Tyler was our waiter and he was exceptional. The portions were small. Very small. The acustics were awful. Awful. Too hard to have a conversation across a two-top table. In summation: food fab, service wonderful. portions miniscule. prob will not go back b/c of cost, portions and noise.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank catcat6327
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
181 reviews
145 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
“Yuk”
Reviewed April 19, 2013

Unbelievably slow and pretentious. Three and a half hours to receive an unremarkable meal. The servers are rote programmed. Skip here - just go straight to New York.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank ThMoC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cranbury, New Jersey
Level Contributor
77 reviews
58 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Overpriced but an excellent meal”
Reviewed April 17, 2013

One just cannot give this restaurant anything over average due their pricing. It's not worth it. However, that being said, the food and service are wonderful. But the open dining room ambiance, busy bustle, very casual diners, location, etc - just bring this restaurant down to a Bistro level. And, $150 per person is no Bistro. My husband and I ordered the prix fix with wine pairings and unfortunately the serving portions with that are smaller than if you ordered a la carte. For the short ribs entree, I had two morsels of meat. C'mon. The Sommelier on staff is knowledgeable and helpful. The wait staff was great. But, our meal size and price was just overwhelming to the value and overall experience. I would go back if they dropped the prices or increased the quantity of food served. I also was glad to have gone, and it's an experience to enjoy, for sure. But, go with the expectation that it's a $300 date night for little Princeton, NJ.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Lauren H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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