Restaurants Reviews and Such

Elements Restaurant – Portage Avenue

Update, October 30th, 2019

Elements opens during the university school year, and then closes over the summer. I like to check it out every so often, because the menu gets changed from time to time. One thing that always stays the same is that the emphasis is on fresh local food. I stopped for a late night supper the other day and enjoyed the following.

elements tomato dill soup
I started my supper with a bowl of tomato dill soup.
In Los Angeles with Chad Kimball
In Los Angeles with Chad Kimball

The menu seems to have veered towards what would be called classic comfort food. I ordered a tomato dill soup with homemade bread. Then for my main course I ordered the boeuf bourguignon with smashed potatoes. In keeping with the local theme, I added a Torque Brewery Witty Belgian to drink.

bouef bourguignon
Beef Bourguignon with smashed potatoes. A hearty supper.

While the menu changes from time to time, the quality of the food doesn’t. The dill in the soup nicely counterbalances the acidity of the tomatoes. The beef in my main course is tender, and falls apart under the touch of the fork. The gravy portion is rich and thick.

Witty Belgian
My Torque Brewery Witty Belgian.

I really enjoy the Witty Belgian from Torque. It would be in my top five for local beers. Service here is friendly and efficient. I think I should drop by here more often during the school year.

Revisiting Elements

I was hanging out at Fools and Horses yesterday, and one of the regulars who knows I’m a food blogger asked me if I had visited Elements. I said I had, but not recently. As Elements is sort of on my own way home from Fools and Horses I figured it would be a good time for a revisit. 

Elements cream of celery soup
A nice, peppery, cream of celery soup from Elments

In the last three or four years the food services at the University of Winnipeg have undergone a major transformation.  Perhaps the most notable examples of this transformation are Stella’s in the Buhler Arts Centre, and Elements restaurant, which is located in the Richardson College for the Environment, U of W putting most sports teams to shame when it comes to selling naming rights.

In many ways I find Elements and Stella’s to be very similar in style.  I would probably describe Elements as a more carniverous version of Stella’s.  This however, is a good thing.  It’s especially a good thing when Stella’s gets overcrowded.

Late Supper

It was past the supper rush by the time arrived, and the host told me to grab a menu and find a seat anywhere I wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t think he passed that information on to the server, as I ended up waiting several minutes for someone to ask if I had been looked after. (This is the one flaw in Elements. They close down every summer when the U of W shuts down and it takes the servers a few weeks to get back up to speed).

However, once my server arrived things went fairly smoothly. I wasn’t overly hungry, and was only planning to order a main course, but when I looked over the menu, I noticed that the soup of the day was only $3.00 for a half order, and so I ordered the half order of the Cream of Celery soup. The soup was rich and creamy with a few pumpkn seeds scatter across the top that added a nice, crunchy touch to the soup. The celery flavour came through quite well along with a peppery undertone. This was a delicious bowl of soup.

Main Course

Elements meat loaf with mashed potatoes.
Meat Loaf, potatoes, and sauerkraut.

For my entree, I ordered what is called the Meat and Potatoes. This is a Bison Meatloaf served with mashed potatoes and chef’s choice of vegetables. This was an excellent dish. The meatloaf was meaty and moist. The mashed potatoes were creamy and smooth. The vegetables were homemade sauerkraut and were fantastic. There was a bit of crunch left to the cabbage, and the flavour was lightly vinegared, meaning that it didn’t overwhelm the other flavours in the dish. The vinegar also infused the gravy somewhat, giving a nice acidic quality to the gravy’s meaty flavour. 

With Elements closing down each summer I tend to forget that it’s there during the rest of the year. After having such an enjoyable meal, I’m going to try and get there for breakfast or brunch a few more times in the coming months. Elements is definitely worth taking the time to visit. 

First Elements Visit

The last time had a meal at Elements I went for their Dehli Chicken.  This is chicken served with brown rice, pita slices and a cucumber dip.  The basic curry portion of the dish is very similar to Stella’s.  I would rate the main differences being that the Stella’s curry has more kick, but the chicken at Elements was exceptionally tender.

Dehli Chicken.
The Dehli Chicken plate from Elements Restaurant.

Another menu item high on my list is the breakfast. I can sum it up in one word.  Bacon.  Elements has the best bacon in town.  This makes for a superior breakfast.

The Elements breakfast plate.

The breakfast is just my favourite item on the menu.  The menu is stellar from top to bottom.  I ordered the steak rare, and it was beautifully seared and evenly pink throughout.  If you’re less carnivorous than I, the Quinoa salad is a great blend that offers variety of tastes in each bite.  The 3-Step Ramen bowls, with the poached egg, make for a great lunch choice as well.  I prefer the hot and sour broth.

These only scratch the service of the menu.  There is plenty of variety for all different palates.  My only disappointment with the new menu is that they removed the Green Tea Crême Brulée.  A delicately flavoured, light and not overly sweet meal ending.

Odds and Ends

When I go, I much prefer the restaurant to the lounge as, it is much brighter and open and allows a great deal of natural light.  The service would generally rate as good but not great.  In particular it is occasionally a little slow.  One other thing.  A pet peeve of mine.  I had a server the other day calling me buddy.  I do not like being called buddy, particularly by someone who has just met me.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.