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Haddon Heights, New Jersey, United States

Friday, November 26, 2010

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday November 27th 2010

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving with friends and family. I am sure most of you will be ready for a great meal after shopping the whole black friday rush at the stores. To honor the Small Business, like Elements Cafe, American Express is offering a steal of a deal. The first ever “Small Business Saturday”, will be celebrated this Saturday November 27th. I think this deal is to good and too easy to pass up. If you register your American Express card with SmallBusinessSaturday.com then you are eligible to receive $25.00 off your statement if you spend $25.00 or more at a local Small Businesses. My idea, spend $50.00 in post Black Friday Holiday shopping dinner and get the $25 statemnet credit. It's like getting by one get one for free. Of course this applies to any check at Elements, including the purchase of gift certificates or take out. So hope to see you at Elements on Saturday!

This deal brought to you by American Express-- but really Elements

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Have a Question

Elements is not a big chain restaurant, so we aren't going to give away a free meal every time someone doesn't like something. We do however like to get feed back from our guests and when someone speaks up at the table and doesn't like something, we respond immediately and appropriately. With that in mind could someone please answer this question.

If I ask someones opinion about the food, should I just say thank you and move on or should I try to give explanation of the dishes? What would you want?

This very situation came up this past weekend about two of my staple dishes-bread pudding was "just croutons with cream over it" and the flourless chocolate torte "is dry, crumbly and doesn't taste fresh". These two dishes I've been doing for 15 years and seem to make people happy. They are not New Jersey sickly sweet Italian bakery desserts and freshness I think is a hallmark of this restaurant--- we make everything fresh. The only thing we don't make is bread.

So if people, fan or not, could please respond I would appreciate it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's Restaurant Week!

Restaurant Week Tasting Menu

October 16th to 22nd, 2010--$35 per person

First Course (choose one)

Roasted Corn and Crab Ravioli- basil pesto cream
Mushroom Pad Thai- tofu, peanuts and cilantro
BBQ Pulled Pork- crispy cheddar risotto and cole slaw

Second Course (choose one)

Shrimp Chowder- chive and lemon
Broccoli Bisque-almond milk and thyme

Third Course (choose one)

Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad- honey black pepper vinaigrette
Heart of Romaine Salad- parmesan dressing, white anchovy and garlic crustini

Main Course (choose one)

Gnocchi- asparagus, tomato and oregano
Bouillabaisse- shrimp, mussels, clams and fennel
Pan roasted Scottish Salmon- butternut squash risotto
Herb Roasted Chicken- potato puree and natural jus
Molasses glazed Beef Short Ribs- creamy goat cheese polenta

Dessert Course (compliments of the chef please choose one)

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
Apple Cheddar Pie with Sour Cream Ice Cream
Pumpkin Ice Cream with Wet Walnuts

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I have a policy--- the best wine with my food is what you like. If you like this don't eat my food!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

'Then why call him god?"

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Epicurus 341-270 bc

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Todays interaction with the public-- how I love them so

Me--To my great customer Mike-- I mailed a $10 off no strings attached gift certificate for his Birthday--That he signed up for, it's the only way I get email address let alone birthday dates.

Mike replied within 1 hour the following---

First name: Fuck

Last name: You

Sorry to be harsh but sending spam is a big FUCK YOU. And you've been sending me a lot of FUCK YOUs.


Have a nice day. :-)

That's right to my offer of a gift certificate I got that reply.

So naturally I replied, because I like to egg on the mentally insufficient---

I sent you a birthday gift certificate that you signed up for and this is the response I get -

You show a lot of class.

Don't have a nice day---drop dead

To which Mike replied in less then 1 hour this time




To which I replied, just because it's fun now:

WOW, I didn't know using all capitol letters made you a tuff guy. I'll have to remember that so I can be tuff in the future.

And the funny thing is this started because I sent mike a $10 off gift certificate for his birthday.

Now anyone that knows me, knows that this is the calmest intereaction of this type I've ever had, but I would like to say ---

Mike-- Happy Birthday 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Are you kidding me!!!

On a regular basis I search for and read reviews for the restaurant. The most important reviews to me are by the dining public. The so called "pros" bring the public in but the regular guests' opinion is far more important--they're the ones that come back.

But come on---one of my latest reviews the guest complained about how the room was arranged, not the food or service-- they liked that. They said the room wasn't "cozy" enough. Lets see long thin room 14 x 40, 2 rows of tables with walking path down the middle. I'm sorry maybe I should put in a fireplace in the middle of the room and get rid of half the tables so they can be "cozy".

Have we become so  cynical a society that we have to find fault with everything? Or is it just our own short comings?-- we must make other people feel bad to make ourselves feel better.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Sunday May 9th, 2010 $24/person

First Course

Duck Eggroll-goat cheese, arugula, honey and black pepper
Crispy Risotto-truffle oil and asiago
Shrimp Salsa- orange, tomato and tortilla
Mussels-fennel, red onion and garlic

Second Course

Spinach- gorgonzola, pickled red onions, walnuts and balsamic
Romaine – asiago cheese, roasted garlic and white anchovies
Lobster and Crab Bisque

Main Course

Gnocchi - broccoli rabe, onion and olives
Crab Cake – roasted tomatoes, spinach and chive aioli
Ahi - almond risotto and orange relish
Chicken - crispy sweet potatoes and blueberry bbq sauce
Filet Mignon - potato puree and carrots (add$2)

Dessert Course

Grape Sorbet - citrus biscotti
Bread Pudding - crème anglaise
Flourless Chocolate Torte - caramel ice cream

Friday, April 30, 2010

Let's Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

We know not everyone can go out and celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the 5th so Elements is celebrating on Saturday May 8th, with a mexican inspired menu.

Celebrates~~ Cinco de Mayo
$30/person for 4 courses

First Course

~ Black Bean Empanada
salsa verde and queso fresco

~ Duck Confit Taquito
ramp and chili cream

~ Grilled Shrimp Ceviche
minneola orange , avocado and popcorn

Second Course

~Lobster Coconut Bisque
 almonds and chipotle

chicken soup with potatoes, corn and capers

Traditional Caesar Salad

Grilled Asparagus Salad
strawberry and coconut

Main Course

Chili Rellenos
spinach, queso fresco, tomatillo and lime

pineapple, jicama and bell pepper

grits, shiitake and butternut squash

bbq, blue cheese, cider and bacon

~ Filet Mignon
zucchini, onion and red mole sauce

Dessert Course

Yogurt Cake
lemon, rosemary and cantaloupe

Mexican Chocolate Torte
malted ice cream and cajeta  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

And the Winner is

Just wanted to apologize for taking so long to post this. I ran into to problems--1st restaurant week-- we were pretty busy(and I'm really thankful for that) 2nd I keep all the pictures and info for the blog on my mac and it had a bug.

But everything is fixed now and the winner is!

Congrats to Sandra, I chose her dinner for two reasons--interesting combination and her use of sea salt.

I'll do this again this summer, with a bbq theme. So get ready with those pictures.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dinner for 2 Contest Entrants

I wanted to thank everyone who entered the contest. I regret that I can't post all the great photos but here are a few that I really liked.

Please come back on Friday for the winner.

1.  "I consider myself pretty good in the kitchen and I better be because I love to eat! lol  I like simple, but flavorful food and I love seafood, so I whipped up a quick but tastey meal ...I sauteed the biggest shrimp I could find in olive oil and cajun seasoning, and roasted some cubed butternut squash with a little olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder and black pepper...simmered shrimp and bake squash for 20 minutes (made a salad while that was cooking). Voila! Dinner in a flash! lol  I finished that off with a dessert of my famous Butter Rum cake:-)"----Sandra


#2--"I love to cook, and for the last year have been posting photos of dinner on Facebook. Thanks for this opportunity!-Deb."

"On Sunday, we made this pot of Manhattan clam chowder for dinner. We like really hearty soups with lots of flavor, but we pay attention to fat and calories so we decided to try a barley clam chowder recipe this time. We use vegetable stock and no bacon. For this pot, we used some root veggies - carrot, turnip and rutabaga, along with celery, Roma tomatoes, green beans, onion and garlic. We seasoned with oregano, a little basil, cayenne and black pepper, and finished with fresh chopped parsley. I like crusty bread, my Sweetie is more disciplined. It was good for dinner that night and we’ll enjoy it as a part of the meal for the rest of the week.  Thanks, Charlie"

"It’s a garlic, corn and cheese chile relleno.  On the side is brown rice with black bean and corn, and guacamole." 


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Win dinner for 2--What I had for Dinner Contest

One of the most common questions I get is--"what do you have for dinner?"

Well most of the time it's a sandwich, bowl of soup or just basic pasta and sauce. But there are times I just want to cook something nice. Mari and I don't get to go out for dinner very often, and I like to sit down for dinner rather then just eat to fill my belly. So when the urge to "dine" grabs me I make something nice.
Tonight I made-Scallops-brown butter/potato/red pepper/micro greens and enjoyed a nice malbec with it. Then had-
one of the last pieces of Chocolate Brownie- sweet potato/bittersweet chocolate/citrus.

Was it good?

So how do you get to win dinner for 2-- tell me about your dinner. It doesn't have to be fancy, just cooked from scratch, by you. Submit a picture and description of your dinner to the comment section or by e-mail to me directly and I'll post it for you. The most appealing wins dinner-- it's just that simple.

Dead Line--March 31st

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You Need a Elements App for your Phone!!!!

You need a Elements app for your phone!!

We're trying to keep up with technology so get your app here .

They Need Our Help

The most important part of becoming a chef is not schools, books or toys we use but the experience you get  when your young. In a young chefs informative years where and who he/she works for can make or break their career before they even get started.

Recently a fire broke out late a night a Mugaritz in Spain, one of the 5 best restaurants in the world.  The restaurant and the employees are covered by insurance but the stagiere are not. They are unpaid apprentices that many restaurants could not exist with out. And three young people need your help.

The rest of this post is copied straight from Eat Foo(a great read, always). Please donate what you can--$5 goes a long way.

You may have read about the huge fire at Mugaritz, the number four restaurant in the world. Luckily, the restaurant was apparently adequately insured. However, their insurance did not cover the personal possessions lost by some of the people who worked there. Here is an appeal from John Sconzo of DocSconz.

Early on Monday February 15th, fire severely damaged the kitchens at Mugaritz, the world-famous restaurant in Spain's Basque Country. Luckily, no-one was hurt. For the management and staff of Mugaritz, the destruction of their workplace was a tragedy. But for three other young people, this was also a calamity.Stagières are unpaid apprentices, usually young, without whom no top restaurant can function. Driven by a common passion to learn from the world's best chefs, they travel from all corners of the globe to train at world-class restaurants. When the dust settled on Mugaritz after last Monday's inflagration, Mattias from Sweden, Diego from Guatemala and Greg from the US found themselves without their most valued possessions. Their precious knife sets, not covered by the restaurant's insurance, had been incinerated. Read Greg's story here.
Fellow food blogger Aidan Brooks of Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef, his father Mike Green and I [John Sconzo, a.k.a. "DocSconz"] are setting up a special transatlantic fund to help them recover from their combined $2,500 losses and re-equip themselves for work. As Aidan says, "This is something I understand well - two and a half years ago I set off for Spain as a novice stagière myself. It's taken me years to put together my knife set, so I know exactly how devastated these lads must feel." Can you please help with a personal pledge? Donations will be so welcome, no matter how large or small. Email me at docsconz[at]gmail.com at with your pledge and we'll get back to you with details of exactly how you can contribute to the fund. Would food bloggers please copy part or all of this post and publish similar appeals. Together we can make so much difference to a group of people who really deserve our support.  

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Last Chance Sunday Supper-4 course for $24

First Course

Rock Shrimp- tomato, orzo and olive oil
Mussels-chorizo sausage and tomato
Brussel Sprouts - tomato, onion and arugula
Korean BBQ Chicken- kim chee and dipping sauce

Second Course

Spring Green Salad- walnuts, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette
Hearts of Romaine -asiago cheese, roasted garlic crustini and creamy parmesan dressing
Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Main Course

Potato Gnocchi- escarole, tomato and olive
Sea Trout- asparagus risotto
Grilled Ahi- lentil, olives and artichokes
Chicken- brussel sprouts and white beans
Beef Short Ribs- potato, green beans and demi

Dessert Course

Crème Brulee- citrus biscotti
Chocolate Brownie- sweet potato and coffee
Fresh Fruit Tart- frozen blackberry yogurt

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Open That Bottle Night

February 27th, 2010--Elements will host our latest annual installment of Open That Bottle Night--started by the Wall Street Journal.

         We all have one.  That special bottle of wine. You know the one we mean.  That red or white we purchased because it was served at our wedding or our children's wedding day. Maybe it was bought to celebrate the birth of a child, or picked up on that trip to wine country or on your first or second honeymoon.   It has a special meaning with wonderful memories attached.  It's that bottle that you put away for that special occasion, waiting for just the right moment to share with family or friends.  Has the right time never come?  Has that bottle been sitting there collecting dust?  Don't let that bottle go to waste.  Here's the chance to open it up and let the memories spill out.  On 'Open the Bottle Night'  Saturday, February 27th, 2010 people around the country will be uncorking that special bottle of wine to dine and reminisce about just what that red or white means to them.

        Come join us at Elements and bring along that special bottle.  We will be serving two price fixe menus that evening.  One designed to complement white wines and one to complement reds. Each menu will consist of five courses and will be $40.00 per person.    So whether it's a cozy dinner for two, or a gathering of friends,  open the bottle and uncork the memories!
  To make reservations please call us at 856-546-8840, or use our convenient online reservation link to Open table also located on our website.

Open That Bottle Night-Feb 27th , 2010 $40 per person

White Wine Menu

First Course
Grits-oyster mushrooms/shiso/buttermilk

Second Course

Third Course
Butternut Squash-iceberg/apple/manchego

Main Course
Chicken-lemon/ caper /golden raisin

Lobster-white bean/escarole/sunchoke

Dessert Course
gouda/dark chocolate/reisling

Red Wine Menu

First Course
Ravioli-goat cheese/arugula/red pepper

Second Course

Third Course

Main Course
30 day Dry Aged Rib Eye-crimini/ brussel sprout /turnip

Ahi Tuna-lentils/artichoke/kalamata

Dessert Course
Maytag blue/dark chocolate/port wine

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some people can be so nice...

Just a few of the recent comments about us...  
...Elements was everything we hoped it would be. The food was delicious and attractively presented. It's a tapas menu, so the servings are small, but spectacular....
... Elements Cafe fits the definition of the quintessential restaurant. Starting with excellent service, then moving onto interesting menu choices (as our waitress said Elements is the place to try food you have never tried before as the Chef is a wizard with presentation and food), and than the food itself is outstanding!...
....How fortunate to have a wonderful dining establishment right in the neighborhood....

Not trying to "toote" my own horn and as often as I complain about the strange and rude things people say at the restaurant, I thought I should show you that we really have some great and loyal customers. And besides, the staff deserves to let people know that a lot of our guests like what we do. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Elements of taste

I was reading this blog post the other day, I highly recommend it, and was reminded of one of my favorite books Elements of Taste. Now I assure you I did not name my restaurant after this book. It was a name that my wife came up with and was the only name that myself, my wife and my father could agree on.

Back to the book, not only is it a great book from a great chef but it really makes you open your eyes to the complexity of food. I think that all chefs strive for balance in their cooking but achieving it takes something more. The book talks of the elements of food that you taste--salt,

A patron that I hadn't seen in a while commented on the complexity of a soup she had eaten that night for dinner. Now while I am very grateful that she liked the soup, I tried to remember what we had done to bring this joy to her. You know what I have know idea.

About 2 years ago I said to myself that I would no longer use "bases" of any kind, if I couldn't achieve what I wanted naturally I wouldn't do it. Now being in south jersey this proposes many problems. Number 1-- Jersey is known for tomatoes, why I have no idea, but people like my wife will eat them year round. It doesn't matter if they're in season or not( January=not). Number 2-- people in this area expect a certain something when they eat-- I think it's a preconceived idea of what something should be. Most restaurants use bases in their sauces and soups and therefore require a thickener. And thickener is the preconceived idea of soup. So when I thought it was a good idea to put a basic tomato bisque on a local restaurant week menu I discovered the big mistake. Tomatoes suck in January and people would expect a thick over creamed, roux thickened soup-- so how do I fix this.

It was quite simple actually, we ordered a case of "regular" tomatoes, let them age as long as we dared in a cold kitchen, then roasted them. The simple roasting of the tomatoes concentrated the flavor and brought out a rich flavor and deep red color. Did we do anything special after that? No, not really, we make a basic white mirepoix, added white wine, reduced and then the tomatoes. Cooked it for about 25 minutes at a good simmer, pureed and strained. It was finished with a touch of cream and "nutless" pesto-- and that's it.  Did the soup turn out "tomatoee"-- yes, was it "creamy"-- to my standards, was it thick-- not a chance. The soup by many peoples standards and comments-while very good in flavor not thick enough(or hot enough-but that's another post). But what so many people didn't realize, we couldn't achieve that "complexity of flavor if we thickened with a roux-- it would be all covered in flour.

Had I achieved after all these years that complexity in my food that I strive for? I don't think so, because I'll never be happy, lucky yes, happy no. But a lot of experience and a little luck goes along way to make some people happy. I have a great staff and great customers that are willing to try most things we do but looking for that balance between what I envision and what I put on the plate-- I don't know if I'll ever achieve that.

But, I'll keep trying.....

Friday, January 29, 2010

The 28th Amendment

   They you should never discuss politics in public but I don't think this falls into that category. Unless my local congressman reads my blog.        

   This  is such a simple thing to do. Read all the way to the  end. I hope you see the value of the simple  statement.
   For too long we have  been too complacent about the workings of  Congress.  Many citizens had no idea that  Congress members could retire with the same pay  after only one term, that they didn't pay into  Social Security, that they specifically exempted  themselves from many of the laws they have  passed (such as being exempt from any fear of  prosecution for sexual harassment) while  ordinary citizens must live under those  laws.  The latest is to exempt themselves  from the Healthcare Reform that is being  considered in all of its forms.  Somehow,  that doesn't seem logical.  We do not have  an elite that is above the law.  I truly  don't care if they are Democrat, Republican,  Independent or whatever.  The self-serving  must stop.  This is a good way to do  that.  It is an idea whose time has  come.
     Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States   Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law that  applies  to the citizens of the United States that does  not apply equally to  the Senators and/or  Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law  that applies  to the Senators and/or  Representatives that does not apply equally to  the  citizens of the United States  ."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The World is coming to an End!!!!

No it's not, but I bet I got your attention. Each day we are bombarded with bad news, latest killing, weather disaster, war, stock market-- you name we get it.

I think the best thing for us to do, is to gather information on the things you can make a difference in.

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend about the ethical thought that goes into what I sell at my restaurant. The bases of the conversation centered around why I don't sell Chilean Sea Bass. It's been proven to me that we are sending a species to extinction by over fishing it when there are better alternatives. It's my choice, in my restaurant and I don't care what the customer thinks about this. I've had conversations with customers asking for it for their party and wouldn't do it.

But enough with the preaching. There is a documentary called Food Inc that was released last summer. It's worth a look. If your a little older then me you will recognize first hand a lot of the facts. If your younger then me you'll be shocked.

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