Anyone who's ever patronized Elements Tapas Bar and Lounge in downtown Medford and enjoyed the restaurant's signature Spanish appetizers and light bites might expect the same from its brunch menu, but that is not the case.
Brunch, served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, marks a departure from the restaurant's eclectic evening fare. Northwest, rather than Spanish, flavors pervade the nine breakfast dishes featured on the menu. While the menu is more accessible and the portions are heartier, each dish illustrates Chef Braden Hitt's gourmet attention.
Dining out with
the Mail Tribune
Elements Tapas Bar and Lounge
101 E. Main St.
Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays for brunch.
"When we started thinking about doing brunches, we wanted things to be recognizable but done in our paradigm with unique ingredients and a little more care," says owner Chris Dennett.
Elements, at 101 E. Main St., added brunch service in late March to breathe a little life into downtown Medford on Sundays. Business remains spotty, except on holidays, but is picking up as people — not looking for a short stack of pancakes — figure out we're here, Dennett says.
"Spotty" might have been a stretch. When my husband and I entered the restaurant last Sunday around noon, it was just us and the light jazz playing in the background. We seated ourselves at one of the C-shaped booths near a large window opposite the bar, and I checked the time to make sure we hadn't missed our opportunity.
Dennett appeared to bring us menus and take our drink orders. He was playing host, waiter and bartender for the morning.
We glanced at the specialty drinks — there are Bloody Marys, pomegranate mimosas, cucumber margaritas and more — before ordering glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice ($3.50). Later, I also requested a cup coffee ($2.50). Elements serves GoodBean.
There were sweet, Southern and classic dishes to choose from.
Catfish and eggs ($14), as well as chicken and waffles ($14), are a testament to Hitt's Oklahoma roots.
Hitt also reimagines old favorites, including frittata with roasted mushrooms and duck confit ($13) and French toast bread pudding ($9).
Dennett says the latter dessert, err dish, is not as sweet as it sounds and could more accurately be described as bread pudding made with French toast ingredients, including vanilla bean, Saigon cinnamon, brioche, orange and bourbon. Delicious, I'm sure, but the bread pudding, topped with caramelized bananas, maple caramel whipped cream and candied pecans, weighed heavily on my caloric conscience.
Instead, I chose Elements' House Benedict ($13). Sean also had singled out the Benedict, but I beat him to it so he ordered the chicken and waffles.
I acknowledge that I've always been skeptical of the Southern pairing, and seeing the giant piece of fried bird sitting atop a waffle didn't change my mind, but tasting it did. Somehow the batter around the chicken (Draper Valley) and the Butte Creek Mill buckwheat waffle, tied together by house-made bacon maple syrup, complemented one another. The waffles, infused with rosemary, were less sweet than most, but also surprisingly light considering their buckwheat base.
Despite my praises, I still preferred my eggs Benedict. The dish was arranged prettily with two delicate poached eggs perched on a paper-thin slice of smoked pork loin (Carlton Farm) and a biscuit-sized crumpet. The hollandaise sauce was creamy and tangy, but not as lemony as I would have liked. Arugula was arranged around the eggs, and there was a potato cake that was so perfectly seasoned and seared that no ketchup was necessary.
A vegetarian Benedict with smoked tomatoes and sauteed spinach also is available.
As we prepared to leave, another party arrived. It may not be busy now, but give it time. Once people discover Elements' brunch, it'll be bustling.
— Teresa Thomas