SUBSCRIBE, Son! Get Your Issue!

You Can Donate To My Pork & Beer Fund! Thanks!

Categories

First (and Last) Impressions: Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar – Mike’s Review

Where, oh where do I begin?  Where do I begin in telling the tale of one of the worst dining experiences I’ve had since moving to Las Vegas about five and a half years ago? How do I enter this realm of what will be blistering, unbridled negativity?  I guess I should start by telling you where it was; Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar.

Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar

Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar

From the moment I first sat in my wobbly seat to the minute we walked out of the door, still hungry and insulted, eating at Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar was a miserable experience.  Actually, I take that back.  There was a table of two lovely ladies sitting next to us where we all had a good laugh over how poor the food was.  Everything else, sucked.

Just two of the pages of the "Martini" List

Just two of the pages of the "Martini" List

Let’s start with the “martinis.” Yes, it isn’t their fault that a “martini” is now commonly considered any booze drink poured into a conical shaped glass with a long stem, but Elements manages to egregiously abuse the word with over 250 (not an exaggeration) offerings in a virtual reprint of The Complete Bartender.  A litany of low to mid-grade booze mixed with cheap schnapps and Sysco-grade syrups and juices, the “martini” list at Elements is an insult, if not a comical folly to the fine dining atmosphere they desperately try to project.  With the piles of money behind the guarded-gates of Spanish Trail living across the street, I was surprised to not see higher quality ingredients like a better baseline of booze or fresh purees and juices.

Kit Kat Martini from Elements

Kit Kat Martini from Elements

Chocolate Cherry Martini from Elements

Chocolate Cherry Martini from Elements

In the spirit of “taking one for the team,” I got the “Kit Kat” and The Wife got the “Chocolate Cherry.” While my Kit Kat tasted as good as it could with the ingredients put into it with Absolut Vanilla, Butterscotch Schnapps and Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur, I almost got up and walked over to the neighboring Terrible’s to buy the bartender a Kit Kat so he could see what one really tasted like.  The Wife’s Chocolate Cherry martini made with Smirnoff, Creme de Cacao and Cherry Brandy, however, tasted like chilled battery acid.

Jumbo Shrimp Marnier from Elements

Jumbo Shrimp Marnier from Elements

For appetizers we ordered the Jumbo Shrimp Marnier ($8) and the Veal and Pork Albondigas ($7).  As you can see, both were priced very moderately, but I’m the kind of guy that will pay a few extra dollars if it means the dishes will be prepared with decent execution.  The flavors of the Jumbo Shrimp Marnier were spot on, with the shrimp wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma, orange juice and (according to the menu, didn’t taste much of it) Grand Marnier.  However, the poor shrimp were woefully overcooked, giving a Slim Jim-esque snap to the bite resulting in a stringy mess.

Veal and Pork Albondigas from Elements

Veal and Pork Albondigas from Elements

The Albondigas were just awful.  Made of Veal and Pork, right off the bat they are going to be lean and are going to need some help so they don’t achieve the hardness of granite.  Whether that is introducing them to some pork fat, or adding a little more egg and bread crumb, or (my preferred) bread soaked in milk, something needs to happen to a meatball made of only veal and pork so that it doesn’t turn into something Tiger Woods would put on a tee and hit.  The rock hard Albondigas were then covered in one of the more unfortunate tomato sauces I’ve had which more or less tasted like some heated up canned tomato puree. No bueno.

Bread with Blueberry Mango Chutney from Elements

Bread with Blueberry Mango Chutney from Elements

The best thing about the meal was the free bread.  It was an herb and garlic bread and it came with butter and a Blueberry Mango chutney.  And I’m not saying that it was the best thing about the meal like how the best part of a traffic accident is the excitement of the flashing lights, the bread and the chutney were quite tasty.  Now back to the crap…

Creekstone Farms Black Angus Flank Steak from Elements

Creekstone Farms Black Angus Flank Steak from Elements

I ordered the supposedly popular, Creekstone Farms Black Angus Flank Steak ($23) that is served with the chef’s signature chimichurri.  I think this is only the third time in my life that I have done this, but it was such a disaster that I sent it back to the kitchen and asked for no replacement.  Usually I only send back things to the kitchen if something is far too under-cooked or over-cooked, and that also usually happens on a sliding scale based on price of the questionable plate of food.  This dish was so repulsive in every aspect that is eating that it instantly made me want to send it back and not put another item from that kitchen in my mouth.

Visually it was a total mess.  The five pieces of flank steak looked as if they were sliced by a 5-year old with a spork.  It made me feel sorry for the cow that lost its life and partially wound up looking like this.  The flank steak was a leathery mess, nearly impossible to cut and cold to the touch.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the unseasoned disrespected cow was topped by the absolute worst excuse of a chimichurri my tongue has ever encountered. Nothing but spiking sour and spice, it tasted like vinegar, lemon juice and red pepper flakes.  One of the thinnest, most repulsive flavors I’ve ever tasted.

And yes, these remarkably strong emotions came from one, and only one bite.  With how cold and poorly butchered the meat was, I felt it was in my best interests to leave it at one bite and do everything I could to avoid a possible visit from the E. Coli Fairy.  In one last flailing attempt to satisfy my hunger, I took a bite of the accompanying mashed potatoes only to find them an over-cooked, flavorless pile of starch.

Linguini Elements from Elements

Linguini Elements from Elements

The Wife ordered the Linguini Elements ($19), which is linguini tossed in a demi glace with mushrooms and Andouille sausage.  The unseasoned pasta obliterated any chance of flavor that the weak demi glace had, the mushrooms were mushrooms and the Andouille tasted like it fell out of the ass of Jimmy Dean’s horse. (props to the lovely lady seated next to us for bringing up Jimmy Dean’s name, for which this snark would not have been made possible)

As the linguini was the last remaining plate on the table, and I tasted it for the sake of my craft, co-owner Catherine Pawelek stepped up to our table.  She came to ask what I didn’t like about the flank steak, so I told her.  Not as colorfully as I did above, but I told her that the steak was tough and cold and the chimichurri on it wasn’t edible.  We are now at one of those landmark forks in the road where decisions are made by a restaurant worker (in this case, the owner) on whether I will ever make a return visit.  She could have apologized and said, “Sorry you didn’t like it, we have many other things on the menu and we hope this experience won’t spoil a return visit.”  Or…..she could have told me that her husband (the chef / abuser) was from Argentina and that my palate wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand her husband’s “authentic” chimichurri.

Oh no she didn’t!!!  Oh yes she did!!! Seriously, how brainless do you have to be to go out to a customer and berate him after he refused to eat the vile shit you put on a plate and were about to charge him $23 to power down the aforementioned vile shit?  I don’t care if the chimichurri came straight from the womb of Eva Peron, you DO NOT tell a paying customer he doesn’t “understand” what the chef is doing.  Unfortunately for this idiot, this paying customer just happens to have a restaurant blog read by lovely readers (and thank you for that) around the entire globe.  Oops!

In her attempt to set my unsophisticated palate straight, the owner told me how the Las Vegas Review-Journal gave Elements a glowing review just a week before our visit.  As a matter of professional courtesy, I’m just going to let that one go and let you fill in the blanks on that comment so sweetly propped up for target practice.  This just isn’t the place, nor the time to question the merits of a publication that doles out more A’s than Arthur Fonzarelli.

Menu from Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar

Menu from Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar

In all honesty, this place was going to get slammed by me regardless of the owner’s little objection at our table.  This moment of business-sense idiocy was just the icing on the cake of an overall miserable experience. And while she focused on the chimichurri, she completely ignored the fact the flank steak was leathery and cold.  Flank steak is the cheapest cut for a reason, but that’s where cooking skills are supposed to jump in to make the meat compliant to the limited ability of the human tooth.

After we threw in the towel on the linguini, we wanted nothing but to get out of there and get food that tasted good.  The owner then came back to the table and as if it was her first time ever speaking with us, gushed over how wonderful her desserts were.  Describing things like, this is my cake” and “my pastry,” she was exuberantly in love with how she makes desserts.  After the nauseating gush of pastry pride was over, we asked for our check to be delivered as quickly as possible.  The flank steak was taken off the bill and so was one of the appetizers.  While taking an appetizer off the bill was a nice gesture, it was kind of like throwing $7 at the guy you just ran over with your car.  Too little, too late.

Obviously, Elements Kitchen and Martini Bar ain’t going on our recommended list anytime soon.  If you wind up going to make up your own opinion, I wish you good luck and god speed.  Bring with you low expectations and earplugs in case of wandering owners that don’t know when to shut their mouths and smile.

—–

Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar
4950 S. Rainbow Blvd. #10C
Las Vegas, NV  89118

(702) 750-2991

http://www.elementskitchenandmartinibar.com/

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.

Follow Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • RSS
  • email
  • Print

3 comments to First (and Last) Impressions: Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar – Mike’s Review

  • Donna Wilburn

    Oh my.. not only was the food disappointing but just like the chef I saw on Kitchen Nightmares..this lady/owner made like it was the customer’s fault.. UH OH!!!

    Dude, try Cana Latin Kitchen and Bar in Town Square and let me know what you think… I’m curious if we have similar food appreciation styles..so far it seems so. Lucky you :)

  • Hi Donna, always great to hear I’ve got a friend in taste buds! I see from your other comment that you found the Caña post. I don’t know though, the 3 or 4 times I’ve been since that First Impression it seems like Caña has been going a little downhill.

    Some of the food seems a little saltier than it was in the beginning, and they’re still skimping on the filling in the “empanadas.” Also, I haven’t seen that server from our first night since then, and I’ve missed her every time we’ve been back.

    And back to Elements, you hit the nail on the head! The first thing that sprung to mind when this was all happening was Kitchen Nightmares!

    Kind of funny, the after story of this experience is that we went over to Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay after we left, still hungry. They had Flank Steak with a Chimichurri on the Tapas Menu they offer in the patio outside and in the lounge! It was just about the same portion of steak and it was out of this world! Oh yeah, and it was also $5 less than the Elements disaster!

    Thanks for posting, Donna! Looking forward to chatting in the future!

  • Funny $#ht

    I will never eat there, but absolutely entertaining to read about this night out

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>