My parents and I hit Elements in downtown Pittsburgh to kick off Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Monday night.

They are apparently “famous” for their charcuterie (meats and cheeses).  The meats are made in house and the cheeses are all from local dairies.

We chose a sampling of three of the cheeses, served with crostini and apples:

Clockwise from bottom left: 1) Calkins Pastured Paulin – Trapist Monk‐styled raw cow’s milk cheese aged for 6 months with a natural rind  Pipe Dreams Dairy 2) Greencastle, PA | Lightly aged, ashed goat’s milk cheese [the "ash" is made from vegetables - fascinating] 3) Ottobein Acres Shepherd’s Delight Blue Mountain, PA | Sheep’s milk basket‐tomme with a sweet flavor & nutty richnes

My mother and I both chose the salmon as the main course of our tasting menu, but I started with the salad and she had the soup.

My Mixed Greens salad: Roasted shallot vinaigrette | blue cheese | tomato | pomegranate seeds | pine nuts

I was totally jealous of my mother’s soup… something we’re already talking about making a trip back for.

Butternut squash, poured over lump crab with scallions and chili aioli.  INCREDIBLE.

I loved all of the squash inspired options on the menu, and the server said I could substitute pumpkin risotto for the polenta listed to come with the salmon entree.

My father (the carnivore) chose the short ribs, and loved the dish – especially with baby carrots, which were roasted and incredibly sweet.

My mother’s salmon, with the polenta:

We both had a chocolate sampler included with our dinners, and my dad opted out of dessert – even though they all sounded incredible, especially the “deconstructed” carrot cake described by our server: buttery spice cake, rum soaked pineapple, beer soaked raisins, goat cheese cream cheese frosting, and sweet/spicy roasted nuts.  Next time, for sure!  This was the only course I didn’t LOVE.

Clockwise, from bottom left: Chocolate fudge almond bar (good), Gran Marnier truffle (tasted too medicinal for me), Bavarian Cream Profiterol (the same quality as a defrosted creme puff from the grocery store), and a piece of bitter solid chocolate (very good).

Overall, an excellent meal!  I can’t wait for more Pittsburgh Restaurant Week experiences.

Atmosphere: Good – I liked this location when it was the previous restaurant, Palomino, and it doesn’t seem too different [8/10]

Menu: Okay – limited main dishes, no vegetarian entrees, overdone on meat/cheeses and homemade chocolates [6/10]

Service: Very friendly, attentive, knowledgeable [9/10]

Food: Overall – delicious! [9.5/10]

Price: Pricey, but reflects the quality of the food [8/10]

Overall: Great spot!  Would be excellent for a romantic night or celebration .View their website for some incredible pictures of their delicious food – my cellphone does not do them justice!

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