Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Element Restaurant & Bar, Manahawkin, NJ
Where: Element Restaurant & Bar, Manahawkin, NJ
What: Element Burger
Build: 1/2 lb. burger, horseradish cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato on a soft roll (brioche-ish).
Comments: Element is the newly renovated (rebuilt) restaurant that used to be known as LA's Restaurant. The new owner (who also owns the Ming Dynasty on Rt. 72) has built a beautiful eatery. Walking through the doors was reminiscent of walking into the high-end Disney restaurant, Jiko, in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The ambiance has a modern flair to it, with dark woods and a touch of Asian décor, transporting you far away from the Jersey Shore. Mostly everything from the décor to the wait staff was very pleasant…however, the menu, although trendy in content, has selections leaning more toward bar fare than dinner entrees. This is not a bad thing, I'm just sayin', if you are looking for a robust menu full of entree choices, you'll be a bit disappointed.
On to the burger...
Of course I zeroed in on their namesake burger, the Element Burger, but before I go any further I want to say the burger was good – very good – but time and time again I am disappointed upon delivery. I just can't get my brain around the fact that although the new owner has spent quite a few million dollars on this renovation he can't seem to find a chef that knows how to serve a burger at the temperature requested by his patron. Even if the wait staff was lax in their duty to serve the meal in a timely manner, the chef should know that a burger left on the line is still cooking, and if a certain amount of time goes by before the server picks it up, it is still the chef’s responsibility to determine if the meal should be served, or a new one prepared.
Bottom line: I asked for a medium-rare burger and I was served a medium-well burger. Now I ask you, "If the chef can't serve a proper burger, how is he or she successfully preparing other, more complicated entrees?”
This is why you can always count on the simple hamburger to be the "acid test" for any restaurant – something I've been preaching for years.
I will most definitely try Element again as there were other interesting menu items that caught my eye, but I'll be even more observant of the food preparation as well as its execution. This burger only rates an 8.5 on the BC scale (could have easily been a 10/10).
Posted by Bill C at 11:37 AM