My dining companions and I took in the gorgeous view at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, as the sun set behind Mummy Mountain in a swirl of pink and purple, before settling into a deep blue. But make no mistake, it was the food that took center stage.
elements’ location within the Sanctuary must be some sort of homage to the resort’s name, as the restaurant is truly a haven for food lovers. With prominent chef Beau MacMillan — of Iron Chef America fame — at the helm, elements has flourished into an innovative restaurant with a flair for bringing out the best in every dish. MacMillan has a passion for fresh and organic ingredients, and believes food should be appreciated for its simplicity and natural goodness. After the Sanctuary’s renovation last year, elements’ kitchen doubled in size. MacMillan seized the opportunity to expand the menu to feature more local ingredients obtained from organic farmers, hormone-free meats, as well as more vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
In the sleek, modern dining area, we began the night with some exquisite ginger eggplant hummus, served with fresh, crunchy bread. The hummus was unlike anything I’d ever tasted before, with an unexpected ingredient, ginger, that gave it a kick.
For our appetizers, we chose the roasted corn bisque, black truffle and lobster fritter; the pan fried, short rib ravioli topped with sugar-cured shallot, horseradish hollandaise and tomato jam; and last but not least, the crispy soft shell crab with green garlic aioli. They were all, to put it bluntly, fantastic. Each appetizer had its own unique flavor, but somehow left us with the same expression: Yum! The bisque had a smooth, creamy texture with hints of lobster. Meanwhile, the pan-fried, short rib ravioli was definitely a new spin on an old favorite.
Next up we sampled elements’ salads, which also featured an interesting mix of ingredients. The braised bacon and poached egg salad sounded more like breakfast, but turned out to be a good complement to the organic greens, shaved vegetables and soy sesame vinaigrette. But the standout was definitely the beet salad, featuring salt roasted beets and fennel, goat cheese, mizuna and toasted walnuts.
Soon it was time for the entrees. Over pleasant conversation and beautiful backdrops, we sampled various dishes. From the classic chicken dish to the special of the day, we kept our taste buds tingling. Another old favorite that garnered positive feedback was the prime flat iron steak. You can’t really go wrong with steak, and elements turned things up a notch — with roasted oyster mushrooms, heirloom baby potatoes and spring onions. After the tasty ginger hummus, we selected the carrot and ginger gnocchi as one of our dishes, and a good thing we did. The punch of flavor that the ginger brought once again surprised us — an unexpected but perfect addition.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without sampling some dessert. And were we glad we did. The piña colada was just as delicious as the cocktail, minus the alcohol. Featuring warm pineapple upside down rum cake with vanilla coconut anglaise and coconut gelato, it was the perfect ending to an exquisite meal. You might say all the “elements” were there for a perfect evening, as well.
If You Go:
elements at Sanctuary
Camelback Mountain and Spa
5700 E. McDonald Drive