The home of the Aggies isn’t exactly prime fine-dining country. I love Le Nonne restaurant in Logan. And … that’s about it. There are plenty of funky, fun eateries like Angie’s and Beehive Grill, but when it comes to top-notch service and innovative cuisine, frankly, Cache County doesn’t readily spring to mind.
Elements might change that perception. For starters, this would be an eye-popper of a restaurant no matter where it was located. It would be impressive in midtown Manhattan. But, Elements is located in Logan’s new Riverwoods development, which also sports a hotel and retail shops. There’s a stream that runs out back, which will make dining al fresco at Elements an inviting option when the weather turns warm.
Inside, the restaurant is large, modern and decorated appealingly—mostly in shades of rust, burnt orange and browns—with nicely spaced tables and booths. There’s plenty of room to roam in this sprawling restaurant, and yet the space’s feng shui makes it seem more intimate than it really is. There’s also a separate bar to the left as you enter that looks like it would be a fun place to hang out on Wine Wednesdays, when select glasses of wine are only four bucks apiece.
Whether in the bar or dining room, I recommend kicking things off with a really good appetizer: gaufrette potato chips ($6). It’s a large (virtually everything here is large) plate of thin, crisp, gaufrette-cut potato chips—that’s waffle-style to you and me. They’re topped with Monterey Jack and Maytag Bleu “fondue” (melted cheese), along with applewood bacon bits. God, are those things good. And so is a generous appetizer portion—four thick slices—of ahi tuna ($10), perfectly seared to a blackened, crisp crust with Cajun seasoning on the outside, sashimi red/pink inside. It came with a shredded Napa salad, sprouts and a soy-mustard glaze drizzled onto the plate. There’s an entree-sized version of the ahi priced at $22 but, honestly, the appetizer is large enough to serve as a main course.
We also ordered the crispy rock shrimp starter ($9) and instead were brought shrimp cocktail. But, no harm no foul; the mistake was quickly remedied and before you could say “remoulade,” we had a cocktail glass in front of us filled with fiery, Cajun-seasoned deep-fried rock shrimp nuggets with a zippy remoulade-pineapple “salad.” Chef Dustin McKay and chef de cuisine Oscar Silva might be a tad heavy-handed with the heat; the rock shrimp were really spicy, even for me, and I love fiery foods. But, they also seem to have talent the likes of which you don’t find every day—not in Logan, and not even in Salt Lake City. Their cuisine is artful, creative and, best of all, tastes great.
Well, mostly. I was a little disappointed in the pasta Carbonara ($15), which begins with excellent, fresh linguine—and lots of it. My serving could easily feed a duo, and I had enough leftovers for two lunches. The high-quality pasta is bathed in a creamy sauce spiked with minced applewood bacon, petite peas and—this is where things start to go wrong—roasted green and red bell peppers. The peppers gave the dish an acidic tang that just doesn’t have a place in a Carbonara preparation. I suspect that they were included to add color to the presentation, but that doesn’t really work, either. The green pepper sort of turns gray in the sauce, and the red pepper looks dull and uninviting. Sometimes, less is more.
A much more straightforward and satisfying dish is a Frenched pork chop ($19). “French,” in this case, just means that the thick chop is butchered with the rib bone exposed. More often, you see lamb chops presented in this manner. The tender, juicy chop was a whopper, its interior cooked just beyond pink (yay!) and presented on a pool of bourbon apple butter and molasses-mustard glaze, with garlic mashed potatoes as an accompaniment.
I’ve yet to mention the mahi mahi ($20), simply sautéed and served with corn salsa, rice pilaf, chipotle buerre blanc and topped with fresh guacamole and crispy tortilla strips, which my wife loved, as did I. But, you might be getting the feeling that I did at Elements: Maybe there’s a little too much going on. The dinner menu alone features 13 different appetizers. And there are nine wood-fired pizzas, eight pasta dishes, five poultry selections, seafood, steaks, ribs, salads, soups … the list goes on. It’s great to have options, but I can’t help but feel that perhaps a bit more focus is in order.
To their credit, though, the dishes we tried at Elements were, with the noted Carbonara exception, excellent. I really enjoyed a personal pizza ($7) topped with Roma tomatoes, mozzarella and Fontina cheeses, and thick, garlicky slices of homemade meatballs. Still, it would take many, many visits to sample even half of the 60-plus items (not including desserts) on the dinner menu, which range from mac & cheese and chicken Madeira to meatloaf, chateaubriand and a Greek kabab salad. Again, sometimes less is more.
Pastry chef Heather Troyer was behind an exquisite dessert that, thankfully, tasted every bit as spectacular as it looked: Caramel apple galette ($7). It’s a puff pastry with homemade cinnamon ice cream, garnished with a dried, crisp apple chip and toasted nuts and served with three sauces: caramel, berry and kiwi. It provided a wonderful finish to a wonderful Logan meal.
640 S. 35 East