New Jersey will lose one of its most acclaimed restaurants at the end of this month, though fortunately only temporarily. Princeton's fine dining gem Elements will close on June 28 and reopen in a new space in early 2015. And that new space is a familiar one: Chef/co-owner Scott Anderson, who announced the move late Friday afternoon, tells Eater that Elements will move into the unused second-floor space in the building that houses its sister restaurant Mistral. It's a shift from 80 seats down to 30 seats in the dining room.
"I'm kind of heartbroken about moving out of the space because I was really attached to it, I loved it," Anderson says. That said, he's excited about the more intimate dining room it'll create, describing that as an opportunity to slow things down and touch every plate at Elements. It might also allow the restaurant to focus on tasting menus. Over the last four or five months, Anderson has noticed extraordinarily high sales of the restaurant's tasting menus on weekend nights. While Elements will retain its weeknight a la carte menu in deference to its local suburban clientele — "We're really conscious of the fact that we're not in a city space," Anderson says — the hope is that the restaurant will be able to go tasting-menu-only on weekends.
Mistral, NJ. [Photo: Facebook]
While the dining room will shrink in the new space, Elements' bar will grow even larger. Anderson explains that the move came about in part because it will allow Elements and Mistral to share a liquor license in the building that the group already owns completely. It'll also create more room for the bar, which will actually move out of the restaurant proper and into an unused space on the street level of the Mistral building, a possibility that bar manager Jamie Dodge floated in an interview earlier this year. (For those keeping track, yes, the Elements bar just underwent a renovation this past Fall that doubled its size, and, no, Anderson didn't know this move was going to happen when his team made that renovation plan.)
The officially projected reopening date is a vague "early 2015." The new restaurant and bar spaces are just empty shells right now, and Anderson expects a six-month buildout for the restaurant. Design-wise, the plan is to leave the restaurant "a little bit more raw" in its new space, and unite the front and back of the house with all tables being in view of the kitchen. Meanwhile, the bar could open a month before the restaurant.
Elements, NJ. [Photo: Official]
It's a longer break than expected — the Elements space is being sold and real estate opportunities dictated the June 28 shutter — but Anderson says he'd love to spend that time doing guest chef dinners, traveling, or just taking it easy. In the meantime, diners have less than three weeks left to visit Elements in its current incarnation. Stay tuned.