We have actually been to the Mint a few times now- I finally got around to writing a review, so it will be based on the visits I have notes from a few of the visits 🙂
Overall, we are big fans of the Mint. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the food is always creative and tasty, and the beer list/cocktails are spot on. There are occasional execution problems, but it’s a place I always recommend to anyone looking for a place to bring an out-of-town guest.
So let’s talk about some of the food we’ve had: I have actually always wanted to try their “Macs”—they have no less
than 10 types of Mac n’ Cheese, including (but not at all limited to) lobster, Maryland crab, a meat-filled carnivore, garden veggie, and even gluten-free versions . I have abstained on previous trips because the portions of mac are just epic. Each gooey concoction is served in a fairly large round casserole dish that could probably feed me for 2-3 meals. And I can eat. But on one magical evening, I finally noticed the note that they offer side item-sized portions!! These are offered at approximately half of the price of the full serving (in this case, $9). I opted to go for the Quack Mac: duck confit and gravy with a 60 minute egg. I had tried their confit and egg before when they tossed it on fries, and it was amazing, so I figured eating the same things *on top of macaroni and cheese* could only get better.
When the mac came out, it was in a cool silver tin-style dish, filled to overflowing with macaroni, topped with crispy breadcrumbs, a good amount of duck, and a lot of gravy. Personally, I could have done with less gravy (it overwhelmed the awesome mac and cheese just a bit too much). As I started eating, I noticed I didn’t see the egg. I asked our awesome server Andy if it might be hiding inside, as I just wanted to make sure I didn’t poke the yolk without noticing and miss out on all that goodness. He went back to check, just to be sure. Upon returning, he said it was his mistake, he didn’t realize there wasn’t an egg served with the smaller size. Rather than just telling me that there was no egg, he also gave me a solution, saying that they would be bringing out an egg for me on the house. Things happen and mistakes are made—how a business chooses to deal with those mistakes is what defines them. Coming back with a solution – not just a problem- is the mark of solid customer service. I was very impressed with his prompt attention to the issue and his ability to then proactively correct for the mistake.
So back to the Mac- it was great. The noodles were well cooked, not mushy as can often happen. The cheesy was rich and gooey and flavorful. The noodles are medium-sized shells, which were a perfect vessel to scoop up the cheese sauce and duck bits. Overall, one of the best macs I’ve had, especially in the Lehigh Valley area. Not surprising, because they also won Best of the Lehigh Valley for Mac and cheese in 2015!
I wanted something a little lighter to go alongside this rich mac and cheese, so I eschewed the chicken and waffles that were screaming my name and opted for the Octopus Robata dish ($13). I’m a sucker for grilled octopus. I had a
dish at Valenca in Easton last summer that blew my mind… but that’s another post. The octopus at Mint….well, this one was one of those execution problems I mentioned earlier. It was served on a spicy sambal aioli and a light seaweed salad with a house teppanyaki sauce and a scattering of small squares of nori. The octopus itself had a nice flavor, but was so very tough. I know this is a really difficult and sometimes temperamental ingredient to work with, and I wanted to cut them some slack. But as I worked my way through the meaty tentacle, I found myself wishing I had a sharp steak knife to cut through it rather than sawing at it with my butter knife. The sambal aioli was rockin’- spicy and smooth. The seaweed salad was light, refreshing, and well-seasoned. The nori squares also added a nice salty and briny flavor- a touch of the sea returned to this octopus dish.
T got the peanut noodles ($8). It was pretty good, although I actually found the sauce to be a little watered down. It
just didn’t pack the punch it should have. The pork belly, however… nothing to complain about there. The dish came with a good-sized portion of little bits of crispy, fatty, salty goodness. I would have also liked a bit more of the green onion to brighten up the noodles and pork.
T also had the Bank burger ($12). The patty was nice and tender, and there was nothing that required me to pull toppings out with my teeth because I couldn’t get through them. But when I tasted the meat on its own, I was fairly surprised at the lack of overall seasoning. It was also a solid mid-well cook, when T had requested medium. The bacon was pretty tasty and about 85% crispy- I’ve definitely had worse when it comes to floppy, soggy bacon (but they definitely got nothin’ on the Bob-B-Q food truck guys and their perfectly seasoned thick-cut bacon…). The brioche roll was nice and buttery, could have been a bit more toasted. Cheese was gooey and flavorful. The “everything” aioli… well, that was everything. That stuff made the burger for me and I was only disappointed that there wasn’t more of it. It was sweet and savory and creamy and garlicky and bright and yummy.
Speaking of things that rock: let’s talk about the Mint’s tots. Who would have thought that a simple tater tot could be *this* delightful? Oh, I’ve had my fair share of tots. But these little potato bundles were cooked so perfectly, I have decided that I actually haven’t had a proper tot before. Once popped in your mouth, the crispy exterior crumbles away in a happy fatty crunch, leaving you with a dreamy, fluffy interior. Greasy tots? Not here, sir! A lovely young lady came to clear our plates when T still had a few tots left. He said it was ok to take the plate. I may have actually growled at him a little. The poor girl set the plate down and sloooowly backed away as I inhaled a few more of the golden potato poppers.
On a separate visit, we tried a few other dishes- this visit was actually superior to the last one we reviewed, and was a truly excellent meal. We started with a couple of the pickled plethora platters ($10 each) for the table, as we are all fans of vinegary veggies. It came with a hardboiled egg, pickled red onions, cornichons, slightly spicy stuffed pickled
peppers, and pickled red peppers. Everything was delicious- the veggies had a great tang, and the cheese was a nice balance point. The menu seemed to indicate that the egg would be pickled, but we didn’t discern any flavor. It was still nicely cooked, and I am always a fan of a good egg.
Speaking of good eggs, I also ordered the caesar salad ($5), requesting a fried egg on top ($2). The salad itself was remarkable, arguably one of the best caesars I have ever had. The dressing was creamy and balanced- I often find caesar dressing to be a tad too cheesy, salty, or fishy. The salad also included beautifully sweet and tangy
roasted tomatoes. Then there was the egg- perfect runny yellow yolk with crispy fried edges. I was very pleased. Finally, I tried the steak frites ($23). I’ve generally stayed away from their large plates, but I was in the mood for some red meat. It was cooked via sous vide and then seared and served sliced over the frites with an onion jam. The meat was spectacular- tender, cooked perfectly medium rare, juicy, and flavorful. I am not sure what they brush or marinate the meat in, but it tasted a bit like a soy and brown sugar mix. The plate also came with some lovely haricot verts, which were delicious, clearly the result of copious amounts of butter. The onion jam was tasty, but I was disappointed that it was served quite cold, which was a rather unpleasant shock when paired with the warm, juicy meat. I’m a fan of contrast, but more in texture rather than in temperature when pairing things like steak and a topping.
T had the Seoul bowl ($19), which had their famous slow-cooked egg, bulgogi beef, kimchi, veggies, and ramen noodles in a broth. The beef was tender, salty, and sweet; the kimchi, veggies, and noodles were tasty; but the broth itself was disappointing. We consider the mark of a good ramen to really be the broth. This broth was lacking depth and generally quite bland. The one disappointment in an otherwise delicious visit.
I should also mention that, on this second visit, we had a server (I sadly didn’t note her name) that was just as excellent as last time. She was enthusiastic and helpful without being obsequious, she was knowledgeable, and she was attentive but did not overstay her welcome.Yet again, the Mint excels at customer service
Regarding the location itself, the inside is really trendy and cool. There is an actual bank vault, and the napkins are wrapped with $100 bill tags.
There is also outdoor seating. We went once on a lovely summer evening. I was wearing shorts, as was T. Now, if you are a female and wearing either a skirt or standard length shorts, you won’t have cloth covering the full back of your thighs—which is a real shame if you want to sit at the tables out front at the Mint. The chairs have very awkward and uncomfortable slats on the seats that cut into the back of your summertime-clothed legs.I ended up putting my cloth napkin under my legs because it was actually kind of painful… But I guess if that’s the worst I can say about the place, they ain’t doing to bad 😉
Food & Drinks: 17/20