By Danny & Betty
Ideal Element is the restaurant formerly known as Ideal Cheese Wine Café. But much like Prince when he went to an unpronounceable symbol for the name, the inventive streak and rich creativity are still flowing.
The restaurant, which opened in November 2013, was the outgrowth of the Binetti family’s Ideal Cheese shop in Manhattan, which they purchased in 2003. They expanded the shop to Huntington in 2012, opening a shared space in The Crushed Olive before moving out on their own.
We’ve shared our particular love for the newly refreshed interior, which is homey, yet trendy; sleek, yet fun-loving and welcoming. The bar area, with faux-brick finish, particularly embodies that success, and the fun crystal chandeliers throughout add a playful touch. The top seating area, Chris said, will become a small dance floor on Friday and Saturday nights, when Ideal Element will remain open until 2 a.m.
Yet, amidst the chic backdrop, there’s a homey quality to the fine foods presented, most evident in the cheese flights ($19 for 3; $28 for 5; $39 for 8) and meat pairings. Presented on a rustic wood platter; we had an array of Spanish Drunken Goat; tangy, fruity and washed in red wine and paired with fig spread; Spanish Manchego; six-month aged sheep milk cheese that’s sweet and salty and paired with quince paste. Next up, one-year aged Prima Donna Holland Gouda – one of our favorites – a full-bodied, crunchy selection paired with Spanish Marcona almonds; then it’s on to a decadently creamy French Brie, soft and buttery and paired with dried cranberries.
Among the charcuterie choices; prosciutto di parma, aged 47 weeks and paired with spicy Dijon is a melt-in-your mouth indulgence. Cleanse your palate in between offerings with French baguette slices and dip it in Ideal Element’s home-made olive oil dip – we love the spicy chive kick to it.
Want to bring these delights with you to enjoy in your own home? Step out the front door, hang a left on Green Street and step into the cheese shop, now located at 6 Green Street.
We recommend a cheese flight as a fine stage-setter for the decadent array of small plates and savories soon to follow, like lamb chop lollipops served with an intoxicating rosemary dipping sauce; Duck Confit Egg Rolls ($16) which perfectly marry flaky, crunchy eggrolls wrapped around the savory duck meat; and Meatball Sliders ($13), with, thanks to a pairing of great sauce, sweet ricotta, pickles and a big, juicy meatball, evokes an outdoor barbecue and Sunday dinner at Nonna’s all at once.
Along with the new look is the promise of exciting new menu items coming soon – look for new sauces to pair with the wings; an expanded selection of burgers, and new appetizers like Bangin’ Shrimp, a spin on the classic Bang-Bang shrimp appetizer.
In the meantime until then, enjoy an array of enticing specials that are sure to keep you coming back for more, like $11 beer and burger Wednesday, which gets you a basic burger and local craft pint for that fantastic price. Or pencil in a “Thursdate” visit, when a five-cheese platter and a bottle of red, white or rose is available for $35; Sunday Brunch remains an excellent option, too.
There is one thing that hasn’t changed – thank goodness – and that’s the fact that they’re serving Georgio’s coffee – a perfect ending to a perfect night.
Atmosphere: Chic, yet cozy
Cuisine: Fine cheese; inspired entrees and small plates
Hours: Closed Monday; Tues & Wed noon-9 p.m.; Thurs noon-10 p.m.
Fri & Sat noon-2 a.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (brunch ‘til 3 p.m.)