The elements of Elemental Next Door

More than half a year ago while attending a dinner hosted by a close friend, i heard about the unique dining experience at Elemental @ Gasworks. My close friend’s neighbor raved about their dining experience there where they spent more than four hours eating multi-course dinner and drinking great wine. My friend tried to organize a Friday evening dinner there in mid August but since Smelly and i just had Mango less than a month ago, there was no way we could afford to leave Mango alone at home for more than three hours.

Fast forward to now, almost six months later. I was looking for dinner options and all of the sudden i recalled Elemental @ Gasworks. After taking Mango on his usual evening walk in Seattle Center, Smelly and i left for Elemental, arriving there a little before 2000.

Elemental @ Gasworks is “hidden” on the first floor of a condominium complex on Wallingford Ave, right across from Gasworks Park. If you are not actively searching for it, you will miss it. We didn’t have more than four hours to spare so we decided to hit Elemental Next Door (E.N.D.), appropriately named probably because it is right next door to Elemental @ Gasworks. When we stepped foot into E.N.D., we were greeted by our friendly hostess/waitress Allyss. We were told that we were free to seat anywhere we wanted so we found the smallest table available that was meant to seat four. The first thing that was unusual about E.N.D. was the lack of a wine list. Instead, Allyss pointed us to shelves full of bottles of wine and that every bottle costs $28. E.N.D. has a really good selection of wine. I estimated there were about 50 bottles of red, a dozen bottles of Rosé and 30 bottles of white. I picked the 2006 Weingut Geil Gewürtztraminer Kabinett from the Rheinhessen region of Germany.

Smelly in front of the shelves filled with bottles of wine.
Smelly in front of the shelves filled with bottles of wine (crappy picture taken using my iPhone).

While we were waiting for our wine to be chilled, Allyss brought us two glasses of champagne to wet our appetite. Not long after, she opened up the bottle of Gewürtztraminer. That was a great bottle of wine. It was an aromatic and fragrant light body wine with tastes of lychee and honey. I have not had such a good bottle of Gewürtztraminer for quite some time.

Elemental Next Door menu
Elemental Next Door menu (picture taken by Nancy Leson of Seattle Times).

The only menu in the restaurant was hand-written on a board, an indication that items on the menu are changed frequently. Smelly and i decided to go for the four-course family-style dinner ($32 per person) instead of the ala carte menu. The first course was pan-fried prosciutto-wrapped squash on a bed of Vinaigrette wild greens sprinkled with toasted sunflower seeds. A bite of the pan-friend prosciutto-wrapped squash made me feel like i was in heaven. The second course was some kind of ravioli with cauliflower cooked in a cream sauce. I never knew that cauliflower could go so well with ravioli. It was simple and yet very tasty. The third course, probably Smelly’s favorite, was rice-filled Calamari with chick peas. The calamari was very tender and it matched really well with the chick peas broth. Originally, the fourth course on the menu was cheese with marmalade. I hardly ever eat cheese so to ask me to eat cheese as a dessert is a little far-fetched. Allyss was nice enough to substitute the cheese dish with a mouthwatering sake-poached Asian pear with orange sauce and some kumquat.

I cannot recall the last time i had such a great meal eating out. We spent more than two hours eating great food and drinking good wine. E.N.D. fully embodies the ideals of the slow food movement in which you take your own sweet time and pleasure in eating locally-produced food that is simple and yet mouthwatering. If you do not have more than two hours to spare, E.N.D. is not the place for you. But if you do, you will enjoy probably one of the best kept secrets in Seattle. Best of all, prices on the menu are gratuity and tax inclusive. What you see is what you pay. I love it!

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