Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mintwood Place

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Image courtesy of CityEats

When two of my friends from out of town were coming in to visit, they left the restaurant choice to me.  When this happens, my mind always immediately goes blank and I'm left in a frantic mental state as I rack my brain trying to remember which places I've been dying to go to.  I don't do well under restaurant-choice-induced pressure!  Luckily, I keep a list of places I want to check out for situations exactly like this.  I scanned over it and immediately knew I wanted to try out Mintwood Place.  Now, as a side note, this discussion was taking place on Thursday morning.  As I've mentioned previously, I take it as a bad sign when a new restaurant can fit in a reservation on a Friday night within a few days notice. Mintwood Place was no exception to this rule.  As expected, the only reservation they had available was for 10 pm.  Nevertheless, we decided to try our luck with snagging a high top table in their bar area. 

Luck was on our side, and a table was being cleared when we arrived!  We settled in and ordered some wine (from the happy hour menu) while we perused the dinner menu.  The ambiance in the restaurant was very cozy and welcoming.  There were about 20 tables in the dining area, three high top bar tables and 8 or so bar seats.  Our server was also very accommodating and friendly. She gave us plenty of time and did not pressure us to rush to any decisions.

Cheese plate with accompaniments.
We first ordered a cheese plate, and after asking the waitress for her recommendation, we were given a separate menu that further detailed the available cheeses. We selected five, but when they were served to us, the waitress failed to  explain which cheese was which.  This was truly the only down point in the evening.  Despite the lack of description, each cheese was absolutely delicious.  I consider it the best cheese plate I have ever eaten. My friends didn't necessarily agree with my hyperbole, but overall enjoyed all of the cheeses.

For dinner, I decided to try something unique for my palate (I usually prefer saltier, starchy, meat-focused meals) and sprung for the five grain risotto with squash and mushroom. This risotto was much sweeter than I expected it to be. I probably should have anticipated that based on the squash, but I was in a wine induced haze by the time I ordered. That said, the entree was delicious, even though it was outside my comfort zone.  The portion size was great, not too much and not too little.  The ingredients tasted incredibly fresh, and I love that the restaurant updates this risotto with seasonal vegetables.

One of my friends ordered the tagliete bolognese.  We knew just from the sight of this plate that it would be absolutely delicious.  My friend was so pleased with the portion and that it was not a small amount of food, which is always a nice surprise when you are paying a decent amount at a nicer restaurant. (Like when you pay $20 for a plate of 4 ravioli!)  She loved the bolognese sauce which was more like pulled brisket than ground beef. It was really yummy and flavorful.  Since she was in town visiting, I was lucky enough to enjoy her leftovers a few days later.  It was just as good, if not more flavorful.
The burger was not as small as this picture makes it appear.
My other friend ordered the bacon cheeseburger (sans bacon) and a side salad.  She was a vegetarian for 8 years, and about 10 months ago she returned from the 'green' side. Up until our night at Mintwood, she hadn't forayed into the burger arena. As soon as we sat down and saw a few of the burgers being delivered to tables, she knew that was what she going to order.  The burger was cooked exactly how she requested (medium, not pink or not pink), juicy, and tasted better than any burger she remembered. It was served with an arugula salad that was lightly dressed. No taboo overdressing on this salad! Overall, an awesome meal that she was very pleased with.

The last thing I want to mention is that if you sit in the bar area, you will have a great view of the kitchen. Personally, I love when restaurants have open kitchens so food-crazy diners, like me, can see all the behind-the-scenes action. Throughout the meal, I kept turning around to see the plates that were lined up and ready to serve.  The managers were kind enough to pick up on my interests and hold out each prepped plate and tell me what it was.  So friendly and accommodating! I will definitely be back to try some more of the Mintwood menu.  Since I dined here just two weeks ago, they've already updated it! 

Image courtesy of Washington Post

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