Nestled in the heart of Adams Morgan next to the dive restaurants the neighborhood is known for, lies what might be the only somewhat fancy restaurant around. Mintwood Place is French-American restaurant headed by Chef Cedric Maupillier. When it first opened last year, it was very difficult to get a reservation. While still quite popular, a week's notice is all you'll need to reserve your optimal time on any night now.
With reservations on a Friday night, me and my friend headed over to Adams Morgan. After spending 30 minutes looking for a parking spot, we opted to pay $15 for parking in the tiny lot next to the restaurant. This neighborhood has always been hard to park in and it seems to be getting worse by the minute. Once parked, we relaxed and walked over to the restaurant.
When we arrived, there were over twenty people at the bar and every table in the dining room was occupied. That said, we were seated immediately. The restaurant is well-lit and very loud. Along the ceilings, exposed ductwork is painted white and on the shelving that separates the bar and dining room, there lies eclectic wrought iron wheels and vases filled with stalks of wheat. It is quite random.
The cocktails sounded very good so we both went for a cocktail. The Tipperary was excellent with Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, Green Chartreuse, Sweet Vermouth, and Lemon.
My friend liked his as well -- the Bardstown Square made with Redemption Bourbon, Snap, Punt E Mes, and Aztec Chocolate Bitters.
Beware -- the bread they serve when you first sit down is not vegan. I called before visiting the restaurant so I already knew the vegan options were extremely limited. We started with the Blistered Shishito Peppers. These peppers were fairly good and I probably would have thought they were fantastic had I never had the same at Estadio. I will say that Estadio's peppers are much better.
After the initial shock of seeing that there was a wood-grilled calf's heart on the menu wore off, I ordered the Mixed Greens salad. This was really just arugula tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. I enjoyed this light start to the meal.
For my entree, I first inquired about the spring vegetable composition, but was told that it is served with a morel mushroom cream and that the chef wasn't willing to serve it without this. Hmmm...not very flexible, are we? So I ordered the one item that could be made vegan -- the Risotto made without butter or cheese. This was a unique take on risotto as instead of arborio rice, it was made with a creative mix of farro, wheatberry, bulgar wheat, pearl barley, and buckwheat groats. On top was perfectly roasted diced eggplant and zucchini with a flash fried green leafy vegetable of some sort. I thought the dish was pretty good with a smoked tomato sauce and well-cooked vegetables, but it was definitely missing something. It needed some fresh herbs or something and a little more pizazz to the sauce.
After dinner, I had a nice chamomile tea as we continued to reminisce about the good old days.
I enjoyed my visit to Mintwood Place, but do not see what all of the hype is about and perhaps that is because they are not very vegan-friendly. They were only willing to modify one dish on the menu to make it vegan even though there was another dish made up of just vegetables that could have also been offered had the chef been willing to modify his morel cream to make it vegan. The food was good, but overpriced for what it was as my risotto alone was $25. The service was not that great as the server often didn't know the ingredients in the dishes when I asked nor did she check on us much.
The highlight of the meal was really the fantastic cocktails. In the end, I'd recommend that vegans just go to the bar for drinks and snack on the shishito peppers. Oh, and I forgot to ask, why is it called Mintwood Place when it is not on Mintwood Place? It is located on Columbia Road, next to, but not on, Mintwood Place. I guess "Columbia Road" didn't seem that catchy.
1813 Columbia Road NW
Washington, DC 20009