Marc P., Princeton University
Although it is located a short drive (or a very long walk) from Princeton’s campus, Elements is well worth the mini trek down Bayard Lane, also known as County Road 533 on Google Maps. With a self-described “focus on locally-grown, sustainable products” and a comfortable yet fairly formal dining room, the restaurant seems intent on breaking down the notion that New Jersey is the state of Snooki and ethylene plants.
The appetizer was a smoked fish platter with a variety of options, including sturgeon and mackerel, and was quite good. Savory and smooth, the fish were the prelude to a great entrée, though I would have to wait around an hour to find that out. My friends know me as someone who rarely complains about service at restaurants, and even now I’m reluctant to do it, but it took far too long for our food to arrive at the table. The party at fault was unclear, but our entrées did eventually get to us.
The food was piping hot, and while I hesitate to use the word “surprising,” I wasn’t expecting it to be as hot as it was, given the delay. But I’m glad it was, and as I bit into my roast duck crepe, I thought about where I’d set the bar for this food to ameliorate the kitchen mix-up. I never really decided on a height, because as soon as I bit into the duck, I knew that it would be impossible for the bar to have been high enough. The duck was juicy, tender, and just the right level of salty, and the texture of the duck matched very well with the soft, doughy crepe. All in all, the entrée was spectacular.
I wasn’t planning on getting dessert, but they decided to take it off the check, so I ordered an apple crumble. The apples themselves were perfectly soft, and the filling was well-spiced, with the topping adding a pleasant crunch to each bite. Overall, though the service was spotty. I may never get that extra hour of my life back, but the excellent quality of the food and fairly reasonable pricing will bring me back more than a few times during my time at Princeton.