The dated feeling and menu at élan, David Waltuck's first venture since Chanterelle, puzzles Adam Platt. He writes: "It's a mild surprise that Waltuck's eagerly awaited new Flatiron venture...doesn't feel slightly more, er, contemporary than it does." When it comes to the food:
This curiously flat tone extends to Waltuck's menu at élan, which begins in a promising way but loses a little of its creative steam as dinner progresses. The starters include...bowls of guacamole crowned, somewhat awkwardly, with pats of uni and fans of fried taro root, instead of corn chips....[and] the kind of round little foie gras "pops"... Of course, the time when foie gras lollipops (or fried taro-root chips or even uni, for that matter) elicited gasps of wonder in this jaded, comfort-addled town passed into the mists of history long ago.
The critic points out that, ironically, many of the dishes that Waltuck wrote about in his 2000 book Staff Meals — like chicken pot pie and buttermilk dipped fried chicken — are more in line with what "the city's eaters are clamoring for" these days. The verdict: One star.