POSTED ON JULY 11, 2012:
Earth, Water, Wind and Fire
An ethereal dining experience where all the essentials are done right
Elements Steakhouse and Grille
8330 Riverside Pkwy. River Spirit Casino, 918-995-8518
FRI-SAT, 5-11PM; THURSDAY, SUN-MON, 5-10PM
Food: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 4.5 out of 5 stars
"Casual dining with fine food" where "even jeans are welcome" is how Mette Green, Manager of Elements Steakhouse & Grille, describes this restaurant nestled inside River Spirit Casino. Walking into Elements right off the casino floor, a calmness is felt as the cacophony of gamblers is left behind, and the soothing sound of a waterfall and see-through fireplace greet guests upon entering. Tans and browns outfit Elements, decorated in simple lines with a few wall hangings.
Elements opened late March of 2009, and while touted as a steakhouse, there are many other attention-getting promotional events. "We have wine dinners the third Thursday of each month," Green said, "and the menu is always changing for these dinners as we pair the dinners with the wines." The "we" to whom Green refers are the executive chef, Myles McClennahan, pastry chef, Derek Cima, and her. July 19th's dinner features Sterling Vineyard and Winery; August 16th dinner features Dynamite Vineyards; and September 20th's dinner features Francis Coppola. At $45 per person, this is a fine dinner option. She added that every Monday night has a Ladies' Night Special, where for $16.99 beginning at 5pm, ladies can indulge in their choice of a petite filet or roasted half chicken served with house salad and baked potato.
The night I dined here, it was neither a wine dinner nor Ladies' Night, but rather a superb experience of casual dining. My friend and I were greeted at the door, and from there our relaxing experience began. This sound-proof area of the casino is a temporary respite from the rest of the casino crowd. My friend and I began with drinks, a Manhattan ($4.75) for him and a Amaretto Sour ($4.25) for me. (While my first choice was a Sloe Gin Fizz, our server Meghan said this particular drink was not available, yet she immediately recommended an alternative, the Amaretto Sour.) Both drinks were excellently prepared.
While reviewing the menu, Meghan brought us a variety of breads served in a spiral cone holder, which had been lined with a cloth napkin, along with savory butter. The breads, while not made in house, but baked in house according to our server, were warm and fresh. Croissants and yeast rolls were the breads, and flat, cheesy and butter crackers which were made in house were part of the mix.
We nibbled on these starches while our Starter selection was being prepared, the Poblano Pepper ($6). This starter is one of seven starters: Fried Green Tomatoes, White Queso Dip, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Buttermilk Onion Rings, Shrimp Cocktail and Lump Crab Cake.
The Pepper arrived, and besides seeing the little stem of the pepper, the pepper itself was highly decorated with sauces, cheeses and pico de gallo. According to Green, this pepper is stuffed with smoked cheddar, white cheddar and pepper jack cheeses. It is then topped with spicy ancho sauce and lemon aioli. Green said it was the lemon aioli that gave this dish the piquant flavor resounding above all others. Each bite was different, as the various cheeses and sauces spread through the pepper, affording a variety of textures and tastes.
Our server highly recommended the soup of the day, Mexican Pozole ($3), made with pork and cooked garbanzo beans. Depending on the region of Mexico where pozole is prepared, the topping for this soup varies. The chef at Elements topped this rich and tasty soup with shredded cabbage, chopped scallions, fresh chopped cilantro and various dried spices. Immensely tender chunks of pork and soft garbonzo beans were plentiful in the rich, chile-inspired broth.
For dinner, I chose one of the July and August monthly specials (which is a combination of two menu items), the Roasted Half Chicken and Baby Back Ribs ($16.99), and my friend selected the NY Strip ($22). Each dinner comes with one side: I selected the Creamed Spinach, which our server recommended and my friend chose the Grilled Asparagus.
Our dinners came in a timely fashion -- there was no rushing; Meghan adjusted the service according to our pace. My roasted chicken and rib dinner was very good. The half chicken was in two pieces, a breast and wing and a thigh and leg. The chicken was over-the-top tender and had a delicate, slow-roasted taste. Herbs were rubbed over the chicken, enhancing the chicken's naturally luscious flavor. The ribs, rubbed with a house made barbeque rub, then slow smoked (in house) and topped with house made barbeque sauce, were very tender and flavorful. The sauce, sweet and spicy, blended well with the tender, moist and delicately smoked rib meat. This came with chicken au jus and barbecue sauce.
The creamed spinach was most likely the best I have ever tasted. Green said this side is made to order, as the chef begins with a handful of spinach and reduces it in heavy whipping cream and chopped onions. From there, it is topped with grated parmesan cheese, melted on top.
My friend's NY Strip was a very fine specimen of beef. This house cut choice strip, topped with a veal demi glace, was excellent. It was prepared medium rare as requested; it was tender, juicy and rich with flavor. The asparagus was large and tender with a delicately grilled flavor.
Green said the executive chef designed the menu, which changes periodically. The menu has something for most everyone's palate, and at very reasonable prices. Four Pasta dishes are featured, with the Pasta Primavera being Green's favorite because of the creamy Parmesan sauce. The Turf menu offers beef short ribs, baby back ribs, roasted chicken, chopped sirloin, pork chop, Ribeye, prime rib, NY strip and petite filet. The Surf selections include seared salmon, jumbo white shrimp, glazed Chilean sea bass (which Green and Meghan said is fabulous), giant snow crab legs and lobster tail. Salads, sides and desserts complete the menu. Megan said pastry chef Cima prepares all the desserts in house.
I would say the only area needing revisiting is the music. It was a selection of contemporary artists (at a rather loud volume) that did not fit the ambiance of this relaxed atmosphere. I noticed a grand piano in the restaurant; Green said that Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Famer Sonny Gray tickles the ivories during the monthly Wine Dinners.
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