Fans of Elemental@Gasworks and Elemental Next Door were already making plans for their final visits after hearing that the quirky, love-’em-or-hate-’em-but-mostly-love-’em-like-crazy restaurants would close June 21.
Seats might be even harder to come by now that author/cult figure Neil Gaiman has tweeted to 1.7+ million people that Elemental is “my favorite restaurant in the whole world,” telling followers they have just two months left to visit. Gaiman, an Englishman currently living in Minnesota, is a fan of both “food and attitude,” telling a follower that “I was impressed by how cheap it was, for fancy food, and their grumpy refusal to accept any service charge or tip.” (Co-owner Laurie Riedeman, for her part, called Gaiman a “super cool, personable guy.”)
Phred Westfall and Riedeman won passionate regulars (including this one) at Elemental@Gasworks for insanely generous and well-considered wine pours and “incredible edibles.” Others hated the brusque service and the idea that they wouldn’t necessarily be told what they were eating and drinking.
Always, though, Elemental was true to itself, and its groundbreaking ways were among the starting steps of Seattle’s food renaissance.
“Nothing about Elemental is conventional,” my former colleague Hsiao-Ching Chou wrote in 2005.
“When you sit down, Westfall pours you a glass of wine. If you ask what it is, he will say, “I’m going to let you taste it first.”
“People get mad when Phred doesn’t tell them what they’re drinking,” acknowledges Riedeman. “But people don’t know how to let go and let us give them an experience.”
Mark the calendars, and get in if you can.
(Hat tip to Eater for first reporting Gaiman’s tweet)
Photo: Riedeman and Westfall at Elemental. Kevin P. Casey/The Seattle Times