Elemental, Watson: Discover Elemental Coffee's delightfully simple and delicious new menu 

click to enlarge The Sweet Jesus sandwich on the window counter at Elemental Coffee with patron, Brett Haynie doing his thing behind.  mh
  • The Sweet Jesus sandwich on the window counter at Elemental Coffee with patron, Brett Haynie doing his thing behind. mh

Sandwiches seem easy, right?

The sandwiches of my youth — which should be the name of my terrible autobiography — were simple affairs: sliced bread, American cheese, a slather of mustard and mayo and a couple of slices of lunch meat from the Oscar Meyer variety pack, in which the cotto salami was so terrible it took me years to find out how good real salami is.

Lettuce? Tomato? Maybe on the weekend. Maybe.

If making a great sandwich was as easy as stacking together a few basic elements, Subway would be the king. The truth is, real sandwich glory requires a little alchemy.

Elemental Coffee Roasters, 815 N. Hudson Ave., has an alchemist named Elena Hughes. When she left The Wedge Pizzeria, she brought a bevy of foods with her to the coffee shop and has transformed what had been a caffeine refueling station into a Midtown breakfast and lunch destination.

click to enlarge Elemental Coffe seems to be always busy.  mh
  • Elemental Coffe seems to be always busy. mh

Stop in around noon and experience the wizardry of the P.C.P. ($9 with a side). Unlike the narcotic of the same name, this wrap has an all-natural high from a peanut-cilantro pesto paired with chicken, spinach, spicy cheddar and jalapeños.

There’s heat here, but the flavor of the pesto is where the power truly lies.

What if you don’t like meat? If you’re some kind of flesh-hating freak, you can get your spice from a Smokie Dokie ($8.50) filled with barbecued tofu.

Say what you will about that slab of soy, but it sure soaks up the smoke. This sandwich is Elemental’s version of the bánh mì; Elemental heaps on pickled daikon radish, slivered carrots, jalapeño and avocado. I still like meat, but I liked this, too.

The Joan Rivers ($9.50) is the mirror image of the Costanza ($9) with sauerkraut, stone-ground mustard and grilled Big Sky German rye except Joan has had some work done, so she has marinated tempeh bacon and vegan cheese instead of the Costanza’s delicious turkey pastrami and gruyere.

Do you like cauliflower? Probably not. Cauliflower is the stuff left over when someone brings a veggie tray to the office. (Just kidding. I know it’s all left, except the ranch dressing. Oklahoma!)

However, when Elemental roasts cauliflower and stacks it on rye bread with mashed sweet potato, tomato, gruyere cheese and a runny fried egg, it is called — quite aptly — the Sweet Jesus ($9). It’s a version of a sandwich Hughes first had during a trip to a farmers market in Santa Barbara, California. The sandwiches were so scrumptious, people stood there eating them as egg yolk ran down their arms.

You don’t have to stand when you’re eating the Sweet Jesus, but it’s worth it if you want to.

click to enlarge C'est La Brie sandwich at Elemental Coffee.  mh
  • C'est La Brie sandwich at Elemental Coffee. mh

But the gold (Au) medal winner at Elemental is the one sandwich Elena has never eaten. The C’est La Brie ($9.50) has grilled ham, fig jam and melted Brie cheese on white Big Sky bread with toasted Parmesan cheese on one side.

Hughes does not dig on swine, but oh, she should for this sandwich. Ham and Brie go together like me and money: It’s so delightful, and then suddenly, it’s all gone.

Fig jam is the new bacon, in that I will eat both of them and will not share with you. Also, it makes everything better.

Before leaving, I implore you to get a salted chocolate chip cookie at the counter. It’s tremendous.

The whole menu at Elemental is a delight. Now if we could only convince it to stay open for dinner.

Print headline: Elemental, Watson, Discover delightfully simple and delicious new menu items at Elemental Coffee Roasters.


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