Thu. July 12, 2012 12:00 AM
by Rick Karlin

Elate is housed in the space which formerly occupied by Gaylord India. I can't think of two more disparate places. As a part of the Hotel Felix complex, Elate seems to be searching for its identity. I'm not certain if it wants to be a nightclub that serves food or a restaurant with a club following. Or does it want to be an upscale hotel restaurant? As of now, it isn't any of these things.

While it's still trying to make up its mind, you should check it out for some well-prepared food that is inventive without crossing over into contrived territory. The menu is divided into "starters", ""small dishes" and "large dishes" and just to confuse you there are also categories for "flatbreads" and "extras." Really? When did it become a crime to list appetizers, entrees and side dishes?

tartar arrives in a glass surrounded by papadum (leftovers from Gaylord's pantry perhaps?) which do little to enhance the dish. Some freshly toasted bread, crackers or even raw veggies would have been welcome. The fig and Asian pear flatbread is accented with flecks of goat cheese, spiced walnuts, sweet onion cream, black sesame seeds and topped with an arugula salad. The salmon is $15, the flatbread $12, about the price of the items on the small plate menu.

There was little available for my vegetarian husband in the large plate section, so he ordered two small plates as his entrée course. The chilled spring pea puree was heavenly and redolent of the essence of pea flavor and aroma and served with a goat cheese arincini "crouton" and served garnished with elephant garlic, a dollop of crème fraiche and a bit of fresh mint. His other small plate, a creamy, rich parsnip risotto fragrant with curry also featured pistachios, cilantro and a few dried cherries. Both were perfectly prepared but the portions were a bit small.

I opted for a large plate as my entrée and ordered the smoked porterhouse steak. When the porterhouse arrived I saw that I had missed a key word in the menu listing, "pork". Basically, I had ordered a smoked pork chop. While it wasn't what I was expecting I wasn't disappointed. The accompanying sautéed kale was smoky and unctuous while smoked cashews and croutons of crispy pig ear proved the perfect contrast in texture and taste. Bread is not served you must order it as a side. Normally this would have irked me, but Elate's freshly baked pretzel rolls, served with Dijon-maple butter and pickled mustard seed, could be a meal on its own, so I'll willingly pay the four bucks.

Dessert options are limited but the hazelnut and chocolate mousse is a sure winner.

111 W Huron St
(312) 202-9900