For me, the idea of a garden restaurant has always been that of expensive food and, most of all, impersonal service. After eating at Elements, Benson Town, I found my perception completely altered.

The dim golden hue of the lighting and its exotic continental cuisine cause most people to think the dishes are priced high. On the contrary, while being relatively reasonable, it is completely alcohol-free. Not even wine is used as an ingredient in any of the delicacies.

Elements is adept at presentation, each platter bearing the Elements' logo (a tally mark, with each bar representing the five elements, the last representing the customer) catches your fancy. And, I haven't even begun to describe the flavours yet.

Sips don't take long to turn into swigs and finally an empty glass within no time when it comes to thirst quenchers. The coconut cooler is a hot (or should I say cool) favourite, as is the Elements Special mocktail of mango, litchi, pineapple and orange.

My personal favourite among the appetizers was the Aubergine roundies — slices of roast brinjal seasoned with an unusually appealing sweet and salty sauce, served with slices of cucumber.

The Elements Shashlik — served on a skewer, with pieces of chicken alternating with slices of capsicum, and spicy sauce with Mexican rice — is another one of its signature dishes.

Another surprise was the availability of five varieties of vegetarian steaks, apart from the usual chicken and beef ones. The spinach and cottage cheese steak, served with mashed potatoes, and Mexican rice and tangy sauce was delicious. One helping didn't seem enough. In contrast, the amigo chicken and succulent elementary beef (chef's special) served with brown sauce, will last out the entire meal.

Desserts — the caramel custard, trifle pudding and several others — did not disappoint.

Visit Elements for a late leisurely evening and the warm hospitality of the staff is guaranteed. Choose a table — rooftop if you prefer reclining on low sofas and bean bags, or the garden if you like the wind in the air, or the interior air-conditioned dining area.

Keywords: Benson TownElements

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Paper PlateJanuary 13, 2011