Jumping up and down with glee over getting tickets to the Chantal Kreviazuk concert last Thursday can work up quite the appetite. Finding out on such short notice only left an hour for dinner before heading off to the intimate concert at the Fairmont Chateau.
A quick burger and fries at Splitz, veggie lasagna at Pasta Lupino’s or taco salad at Dups Mexican eatery were a few feasible one-hour quick grabs for dinner.
When my companion suggested dinner at Elements Urban Tapas Lounge, I looked at my watch, hoping I had missed a daylight savings time change.
“I really don’t want to be late for the show,” I replied.
Every time I walk by Elements the intimate bistro is bustling and at capacity.
“Maybe we can get a seat at the bar,” I reasoned as the call of my favourite two-tone frites — a.k.a. french fries — with nose turned in the air beckoned me in.
The bar was packed, but there was one table left. I let our server know about the show and within 15 minutes of walking in the door, my vision of yam frites was a wonderful smelling reality. The change over from a curry to a chipotle dip with the fries was a bit of a disappointment, but the Mercedes Benz of fried potatoes, thin and crisp, more than made up for the change.
Tapas-style dining is always such fun. I love getting the chance to try a number of different dishes and talking about them over shared plates.
We each chose two dishes.
I am horrible about locking into favourites. I of course chose the frites and the prawn and avocado lettuce wrap as a lighter alternative. The do-it-yourself wraps are presented with lettuce leaves that you stuff with shredded vegetables, noodles, cashews, and a meat, seafood or tofu highlight. Don’t forget to drizzle or dip with the sweet Nuoc-cham dipping sauce. In addition to prawn and avocado, other options include tuna sashimi, pork and papaya, and spicy tofu with crunchy noodles. The spicy tofu is my top choice, only my dinner mate wasn’t quite ready for a Soya bean adventure — contrary to popular belief, tofu will not turn you into a tree-hugging hippie nor does it taste like an Elmer’s glue glob, when properly prepared. These wraps also make the perfect light lunch. (The Elements dinner menu is the same as the lunch menu.)
Normally, I would fall back on the blue cheese beef tenderloin, the prosciutto wrapped asparagus or the absolute-must-try green curry prawns with crispy rice noodles, all of which I have had on more than one occasion, but thankfully my dinner mate steered me in new directions.
The seared ahi tuna was presented beautifully on thin sliced cucumber with green onion and red peppers curling in delight, like my toes, and the chicken skewers with to-die-for peanut-style dip were casual fun.
Elements dishes successfully marry a fusion of culinary cultures showcasing high-quality, fresh ingredients complemented by unique sauces that don’t overpower, but instead allow the stars of the night to shine: the seafood, game meat and fries. Well, they are at least stars in my world.
One hour later, I was walking up the pathway to the Chateau to see one of Canada’s biggest stars. I didn’t miss a note thanks to the efficiency of our talented server (thank you Brenda) as well as the Elements kitchen and support staff. It was an evening of wonderful surprises; a world-class concert and dinner all on the spur of the moment on one timely plate.
Elements Urban Tapas Lounge is located on Main Street. The funky hideaway, tucked away from the craziness of the Village Stroll, is open from 7 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. It’s a great place to grab dinner after a show at MY Millennium Place, which is only a short walk away.
The cozy 42-seat lounge dressed in the four elements of dark wood, copper accents and a wall waterfall, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Voted 2005 Best New Restaurant in Pique Newsmagazine and managed by the talented April Solonyka, Elements never disappoints. They’ve also got my vote for Best Date Restaurant.