Dining and Dating District Style: Mintwood Place
After my first Dining and Dating District Style post, I struggled with where to land my fork for my next article. Much like a second date, I wanted our second experience to leave you impressed and curious for more. A number of friends recommended restaurants they deemed worthy (thankfully only one suggestion was for Applebee’s), but I was looking for something different: dishes that would impress and a restaurant that would raise eyebrows. Ultimately, that place was Mintwood Place (1813 Columbia Rd., NW).
While many of my fellow D.C. veterans might chuckle at the combination of “Adams Morgan” and “culinary delight,” I assure you those words perfectly describe with Mintwood Place. While it may only be a few blocks from dollar Jell-O shots—feel free to go in search of the dancing pirate after dinner—but it is a world away from that environment. Executive Chef Cedric Maupillier’s Escargot Hush Puppies, Cast-Iron Amish Chicken, and Baked Alaska flambé are among just a few of the many dishes that will leave you and your date talking about dinner long after it is over. While it may be very much a cozy neighborhood restaurant, Mintwood’s food, drinks, and service will impress your date much like any downtown powerhouse restaurant.
Ambiance: Mintwood’s interior is unimposing and plays a complementary role to the fare of France native Chef Maupillier, former Sous Chef at Citronelle Michel Richard and Executive Chef at Central Michel Richard. Knotty wood beams, leather booths, and vintage ironwork are warmed by the glow from old-fashioned quad loop light bulbs (you learn things when your Dad wires the house he built). While nearly every seat in the dining room will be suitable for your date, if you can find a way to get a corner booth in front of the windows in the front, your date will thank you even more. Plush pillows and a bit of privacy help to temper the loud volume emanating from the main dining room.
Food: The food is why Mintwood Place exceeds neighborhood restaurant to nearly out of this world. To me, a second date is a date where you want to leave your date floored. You hopefully had a great first date and the second date turns that fire up. Maupillier’s fare definitely helps with an array of unique dishes. We sampled six different dishes, and if my wallet had been deep enough and my stomach big enough, we would have had ten.
I recommend starting off with the Escargot Hush Puppies from the “Nibbles” menu. This French twist on an American classic is delicious and a perfect way to try something different. Trust me when I say snails aren’t my favorite dish, but the herbs and corn flour of a hush puppy make this the perfect way to try them.
Maupillier’s Gazpacho was easily the best I have ever had, and would be a perfect dish to order during a warm summer evening (extra marks for the tomato terrine. A great French twist to this traditional Spanish soup). If you really want to challenge your taste buds, go for the frog legs. If you have never had frog legs, you are missing out. Think chicken wings but tenderer and slightly sweeter.
The black walnut romesco is a perfect addition to these legs. They also provide a perfect “let’s try this together” dish for anyone who has yet to… hop (I’m sorry, I really am) on board with the idea of eating frog legs.
As for a “sweet ending” to the date, try the blueberry tart. This bite of blueberry baked goodness comes topped with frozen Greek yogurt. The yogurt helps to counter the super sweet taste of blueberries, and it allows you to lie to yourself about being healthy. Just a note though, John Stamos does not appear after you eat the yogurt. Ladies, you will just have to make do with your date.
Drinks: Mintwood’s cocktail menu has a little something for everyone, but I recommend the Kentucky Colonization. Mint-infused bourbon blends with Domaine Dupont Calvados, a French Apple Brandy, to provide a smooth yet sweet cocktail akin to a Mint Julep. Mintwood also gets high marks for putting the wine menu on the back of the food menu. Traditionally on dates one person will take a look at the wine menu before passing it off. I have never a been a big fan of that as it closes you off from one another. Mintwood’s menu better facilitates a conversation over what wines you may drink (and there are many).
Neighborhood: Mintwood Place is just off the main strip of Adams Morgan. This means that you are guaranteed that there are plenty of bars to stop at after (I recommend selecting a rooftop like Perry’s or Jack Rose’s Dining Saloon). If you are in the mood for walking off the meals you just ate and the weather is nice, you can always walk over to Meridian Hill Park or down to Dupont Circle. Just remember that if you drive to Adams Morgan, parking will be a nightmare. So if you get a parking spot, your car stays in it until the evening is over.
Recommendation: Second Date restaurant: As I alluded to earlier, I think Mintwood Place is a great second date spot. While a bit on the pricier side, it is well worth it. The drinks are delightful, the service is great, and the food will leave you and your date debating who gets the last bite. Everything is impressive, much like you should be on a second date.
The second post of a new series by “The Golden Boy” of Dining in DC , Sean O’Brien
Sean O’Brien is Dining in DC’s only (and therefore strongest and most intelligent) male contributor. Before he became a Daywalker, Sean was a bartender and bar manager for longer than his parents care to admit. A Marylander born and raised, Sean has spent the better part of his twenties exploring and tasting DC from every corner. He is also the author of failed legislation mandating that every week involve crabs, bacon, Saison-style beer, bourbon or Old Bay.
When he is not working or eating, Sean is likely to be found biking or hiking around DC. Follow him on Twitter at @sotweets, but be prepared for sarcasm and comments about people who say “YOLO” (You only live once) or “totes.”