First, thanks to Susu for prodding me to try this place about a month ago.
I honestly knew virtually nothing about it before going, having missed last year's flamewars about it. Here's what I learned one needs to know about Elemental@Gasworks that you won't find out from the website:
- No reservations. Okay, they do tell you that on the website, but they don't say how to get a table. Get there at 5 for cocktail hour when they open or get there at 8 to catch an early table turning.
- No wine list. Oh they've got wine. Just ask for wine. Phred will pair a glass (or 2) with each course. Of the 12 wines (really!) we sampled, most pairings were infinitely excellent - only one disappointed. I'm usually ecstatic to get one or two sublime pairings in a multi-course menu anywhere else, so this is a feat.
- No worries. If you're a control freak, don't go - you'll probably get frustrated. Just relax and leave the driving to Laurie and Phred.
- No hurry. Our 3-top was there for 4 hours and we didn't linger long after the last of 9 1/2 courses as it was approaching midnight.
- No tipping. If you pay by card, there won't even be space for a gratuity on your reciept.
- Great value. 3 cocktails (not including the nip of Oloroso sherry we were handed upon walking in the door for which there was no charge, of course), 9 1/2 courses, 12 wines, $160 inclusive. Unbeatable.
I'd rave about specific courses (oysters + serrano ham, lamb tartare, chicken + biscuit, rum + pepper venison, cheese course) but I gather any given dish's appearance on the menu is mercurial, I'm not sure there's much point. Suffice to say that the way to go is for each member of the dining party to order the 3-plates-for-$36 option and to collectively decide on what courses to have, then share them. They'll be brought out serially, so if you've 4 people, plan on a long evening. And definitely order wine.