Last summer we attended the Tree City film festival in Sylvania. It was held in the Sylvania Historical Train Barn and we enjoyed the selection of short films.
The festival location was right next door to one of the coolest restaurants in our area: Element 112. Green Dragon and I both agreed we needed to pay a visit there very soon. Last month we finally made the visit – and we’re sorry we waited so long.
The occasion was Green Dragon’s birthday. After the sumptuous dinner we concluded that Element 112 is clearly the best restaurant in the Toledo area.
The theme of the four elements of earth, wind, water and fire provide inspiration for décor as well as the cuisine. The menu is prepared using fresh local and seasonal ingredients. Chris Nixon is the executive chef and, for us, another key player is sommelier Mark Maruszak.
Covering all the bases and including some nice surprises, the wine list is not voluminous, but includes everything to keep a wine lover well satisfied. Viognier, Roussane, Tannat, Picpol de Pinet and Arneis are among the grape varieties included. Greece, Austria and Priorat are among wine regions we were pleased to see represented.
No wine lover is left behind at Element 112. There is a nice selection of wines by the glass starting at $9. A stellar addition to the wine program is the Coravin, which preserves unpoured wine in a bottle using Argon gas.
As a result, you can purchase a glass of 2009 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, or other premium wines, without having to buy an entire bottle. You can enjoy a three-ounce or six-ounce glass. A six-ounce glass of Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Chardonnay costs $43 while a 2011 Stags Leap Artemis 3-ounce taste costs $14.
If you prefer to bring your own bottle, the corkage fee is $25. That’s quite reasonable since many of the premium bottles top the $150 and $200 price level.
The service, ambiance and food blend to make Element 112 a superb dining experience. Thoughtful and courteous waitstaff allow you to unwind and take in the surroundings. Mark provided some excellent suggestions and, after a brief discussion, we settled on the 2011 Montaribaldi "Gambarin" a Nebbiolo from Italy’s Langhe region to pair with our Chef’s Tasting. The wine was served in Riedel glasses and the bottle was decanted for us.
Our meal began with a cauliflower bisque served with herb oil and beet chips. Green Dragon then opted for the roasted beet salad while I had the Fromage Blanc cheese plate with honey, sherry gastrique and Frisee. Each dish was a masterpiece of complimentary flavors and artful presentation.
Next up was a highlight dish: the potato gnocci. It arrived in a bowl with a plate placed on top. What the? As soon as the plate was lifted, we knew why – incredibly delicious hickory smoke wafted out. The gnocci, with beurre fondue and parmigiano, was infused with smoke. A delicious morsel indeed.
My entrée was Cappelletti pasta with sage, sweet potato and bread crumb. My wife enjoyed the braised pork with herb purée. Each paired to perfection with our Nebbiolo.
While some restaurants might serve a sorbet at this point, we were treated to Lemon Gelato Snow – gelato frozen with liquid nitrogen to create an airy sophisticated treat. Bravo!
When we thought we were done, Mark came over and asked if we’d like a tour of the kitchen. We were also treated to a couple of specialty gin cocktails that were fabulous. The top was a warm froth while the bottom was a contrasting cool. The effect (especially after an evening of wine and fine dining) was electric.
Element 112 is a superlative dining experience, augmented by an outstanding wine program. Lest anyone hesitate due to the menu cost (all listed on their website), they are currently offering a $35 five-course chef’s tasting menu Monday through Thursday with the courses changing each day. (The chef’s tasting menu is $59 on Friday and Saturday.)
We loved the chef’s tasting menu. Next time we may opt for the Element 112 Menu Tour (at $79 per person) – the people at the table next to us looked like they were having a lot of fun!
Element 112 receives our highest recommendation.