Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mintwood Place

After his longtime stint as Michel Richard's right-hand man at Citronelle and Central, city food-lovers can now enjoy Chef Cedric Maupillier's cooking at Mintwood Place.  Keith and I headed out for Summer RW to try his French spin on American fare.  Closest Metro is Woodley Park-Adams Morgan.

The restaurant is decorated with pale-blue, brown and cream tiles along the back wall, tin ceilings and a generous amount of distressed-wood paneling.  Lounge-like tables with views of the street are the spot for those who want to be in the action. The room, with its tiled open kitchen and antiquey wrought-iron accents is one of the coziest spaces around, but you'll have to lean in close for intimate conversation as it's also very loud.  We were seated towards the back, and all the sound seemed to echo towards our corner.

Our server first took our cocktail orders, while we nibbled on the complimentary fresh baked French bread.  Keith tried the Garden Preservation made with Catoctin Creek Gin, cucumber, basil, and lemon.  It was very light and refreshing - perfect for summer.  I was looking at another more girly cocktail, but Keith convinced me to try the Robert Egger made with Tequila Real Silver, Aperol, lime, and agave nectar.  It was a lovely pale shade of pink and tasted like a grapefruit margarita.  It was very tasty and I easily slurped it down.  I'm glad I ordered it, as it ended up pairing very well with my first course.

For our three course meal, I started with a cool and zippy Cucumber & Watercress Gazpacho with crab, avocado, and bits of jalapeno and red onion.  The soup was very flavorful and a nice portion.  It had Mexican flavors from the avocado, peppers and onions that complimented my tequila drink.

Keith felt adventurous and ordered the Wood-Grilled Confit Calves Heart & Baby Collard Green Salad.  A large salad of tender baby collard greens were tossed with cauliflower, croutons, and wonderfully grilled slices of the beef hearts.  Keith liked the flavor and texture of the beef hearts, and was pleasantly surprised that it did not taste too metallic like liver or other offal pieces often do.  

For my main course, there were a couple different fish options on the menu, but I settled with the Seabream Filet.  The fish was perfectly cooked and came with grilled fennel, super briny picholine olives, spicy piperade and rouille - all on a bed of mashed potatoes.  While I liked the meaty fish, I found the peppery sauce to be a bit overpowering.  To try and cut the heat, I ordered a glass of Iris Vineyards, Pinot Gris, Chalice Vineyard, Oregon 2012.  This white wine was crisp and slightly dry, reminiscent of a Riesling.

Keith ordered the Crispy Rainbow Trout with green papaya & aji amarillo slaw, and passion fruit sauce.  His fish was lightly battered and very large, which overtook the plate and got stares from the neighboring tables.  The slaw and passion fruit sauce with the black seeds gave a tropical feel to the dish that, again, was great for summer. 

Lastly, for dessert, Keith chose the Key Lime Pie.  A simple slice was topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.  The thick graham cracker crust was classic and the key lime filling was much more creamy than other renditions we've had.  Though not bright green, the key lime flavor still punched through.

I was persuaded by the Brownie Sundae.  A warm brownie drizzled in chocolate sauce was layered on the bottom with a brownie bit and macadamia ice cream on top, finished with a large dollop of whipped cream, sprinkles, more chocolate sauce, and a maraschino cherry.  The presentation was fun and played to the child-like senses.  At first bite, I was not impressed, but I found myself shoveling bite after bite into my mouth.  Clearly, this brownie indulged my sweet tooth.

Overall, we had a nice meal at Mintwood Place.  The restaurant was very crowded and loud while we were there - not sure if because of the RW offerings, or if was a typical reflection for a Saturday night.  We were a little disappointed at first that we could not order any other 'nibbles' from the regular menu, such as the famous escargot huh puppies.  But we left very satisfied in the end, and could tell that this restaurant is quite popular.  I lowered the accessibility score just a tad, since it is a little bit of a trek to the Metro.

Total Rating: 3.98
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4.5

What I ate:
Cucumber & Watercress Gazpacho
with crab & avocado

Seabream Filet
with fennel, picholine olives, piperade, rouille

Brownie Sundae
Plus Keith ate:
Wood-Grilled Confit Calves Heart & Baby Collard Green Salad

Crispy Rainbow Trout
with green papaya & aji amarillo slaw, passion fruit

Key Lime Pie

Mintwood Place on Urbanspoon

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