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Thursday
Aug232012

Press dinner at Mint

  • Restaurant  Mint
  • Cuisine  regional Indian
  • Location  150 E. 50th Street (between Lexington & 3rd Avenues), Manhattan
  • Phone  212-644-8888
  • Directions  Hopstop
  • Atmosphere  spacious, sophisticated, tastefully colorful
  • Attire  smart casual
  • Ideal for  small to medium-sized group dining, 1x1, happy hour, business lunches/dinners, private events
  • Price  moderate
  • Mint on Urbanspoon

Indian cuisine is definitely one of my "top 5 favorites."  I mean, what's not to love?  Each meal is centered around delicious breads and white rice.  And, for those of you who have been on this site for a while now, you are well aware of what a raging carb-o-holic I am.   So, you can imagine my elation when I was invited to attend a press dinner at Mint, a "regional Indian" in Midtown East.

I arrived at Mint just shy of our 7pm reservation.  Susan, the PR representative, and a gentleman from another media outlet were already seated at the bar - sipping on a glass of wine - awaiting my and the other three diner's arrivals. 

After I received my glass of Sancerre, we were led from the bar to our table in the dining room.

In staying true to its name, the restaurant's interior space is accented with soft mint hues in the form of mood lighting, plus leather and fabric-upholstered banquettes and chairs.  Mahogany tables are illuminated by twinkling votive candles and overhead drum lamps wrapped in red, orange, and fuchsia-colored silk.

After the remaining three guests arrived and our party was complete, Susan introduced us to one another and explained that we would be dining "family style." 

Appetizer course

Vegetable Samosa  These crispy, golden turnovers - nearly bursting at the seam with smashed potatoes and peas - looked much sexier than they tasted.  While there was nothing fundamentally wrong with them, I found the fluffy potato interior to be under-seasoned.  Luckily, the samosa was accompanied by a duo of dipping sauces that cured its flavor-blues:  Sweet tamarind and coriander.

Chilly Fish  Strips of battered sea bass, plus fresh onions and bell peppers, came tossed in a spicy, red sweet and sour-type of sauce.  Style-wise, imagine a fiery version of American Chinese-style sweet and sour chicken.  This dish was a hit with the entire table, as the sea bass was incredibly fresh and flaky.  The sauce, while spicy, did not overwhelm.

Bombay Masala Pao  While the menu describes this as "A special blend of tomato, herbs and spices served on bread," the best way for me to explain this dish would simply be, "an Indian twist on pizza, sans cheese."  I'm not sure of the type of bread used as the foundation, but it was incredibly soft and light.  Almost to the point where I wondered how the dense tomato topping did not seep through.  It certainly was unique, flavorful, and delicious. 

Chicken Malai Kabab  Of every dish that we sampled over the course of the evening, this was probably my favorite.  Which says a lot, since I rarely order or even eat chicken!  Chunks of white breast meat - having marinated for hours in a mixture of yogurt (this promotes tenderness) and spices - were grilled to perfection and paired with a simple side salad and lemon wedge.

Aloo Methi Tikki  This dish embodies why I love Indian food so much.  Flavor, flavor, and more flavor!  Served atop a bed of Channa Masala (chickpeas cooked in a tomato and onion sauce) were, what I would describe as, "Indian hushpuppies," that were made from potato and fenugreek.  I loved how the "hushpuppies" paired, both in flavor and texture, with the Channa Masala.

Dinner Course

Fish Tikka Masala  This dish was another personal and table favorite.  Small filets of fresh, white seabass were basted with a fenugreek-flavored tomato sauce and grilled in the tandoori oven.  Having previously only sampled "Chicken Tikka Masala," I found this version to be brilliant and much more preferable.

Chicken Tikka Masala  Cooked in the same fenugreek-flavored tomato sauce as the Fish Tikka, the difference with this particular preparation was that the chunks of tandoori chicken were served *in* the gravy, as opposed to being basted - then grilled - with it (the sauce).  And, frankly, I felt like the chicken got lost in all of the sauce.  Plus, the meat was a bit tough, which I chalked up to the fact that it continued to cook in the warm, bland sauce. 

Saag Paneer, Dal Makhni  While I found the paneer in the saag to be rubbery and flavorless, I fell in love with the Dal Makni.  Black lentils, simmered overnight with onion and garlic (among many other ingredients), were finished with butter and cream.  The result?  A soupy-like slurry, if you will.

Naan  It would be hard to mess up homemade naan, at least in my eyes.  This fluffy, moist, and warm, pillowy flatbread proved the perfect measure of scooping up extra sauce and/or making "burritos" out of the proteins from our entrees. 

*Note* 

  • Basmati rice also accompanied our entree courses. 
  • I am missing a picture of the lamb dish that we were served but, like the Chicken Tikka Masala, I found the meat to be overcooked by the warm gravy in which it was served.

Dessert course

Gulab Jamun  Fried dough, made from milk solids + flour, arrived swimming in a fragrant syrup of sugar, rosewater, and cardamom.  This particular version was served warm, which I really enjoyed, as many have been chilled. 

There has rarely been an order of Gulab Jamun that I did not thoroughly enjoy.  Hello!  Sugar + fried dough?  Come on, y'all, I am from the South after all...

...

Overall, I found my experience at Mint to be very enjoyable.  While there were a couple of "misses," the majority of my meal contained "hits."  I would make a special return trip for the Fish Tikka Masala and the Chicken Malai Kabab.

So, if you find yourself in Midtown East - with a hankering for Indian - then I would absolutely recommend giving Mint a whirl.

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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