Julia and I have long drooled over the menu at The Mint in Raleigh, but it has always been a bit out of our price range. Naturally, we were both very excited by the prix fixe menu this Valentine’s day weekend, which offered a 3 course dinner for 30 $ per person and included an opportunity to sample the truffled mac and cheese. We made a 10 PM (the earliest they could fit us in) reservation for Saturday, and readied ourselves for what we hoped to be a tasty culinary adventure.
Upon entering The Mint, we were both immediately struck by the fact that there was a strange disonance in the decor of the restaurant. On the one hand, it had the weird feel of theme restaurant (maybe money themed?) with lots of diamond like stones on the walls and the bar upstairs and a bank vault door. On the other hand, it also really wanted to be a fancy restaurant with very simple seating where the focus is on the food itself, which was nice. I also really liked the high-backed plush booths, even if they didn’t quite seem to fit with the simplistic tables that surrounded them. Finally, I don’t know about anybody else but trance and house music remixes of Elton John are not what I want to hear at a fine dining establishment. Again, it feels like they really wanted to be some kind of ultra-modern dance club that didn’t really fit the mold of fine dining.
For the first course, it had to be the truffled macaroni and cheese, which I think were mezze penne in a cheese sauce topped with bread crumbs and herbs. The mac and cheese was very rich and creamy and I did sensed a slight musty, earthy flavor that was probably the truffle oil, but I honestly can’t be sure. It was good, but it didn’t blow us way as we had we hoped.
For the second course I had the pork osso bucco, which honestly was the best cooked piece of pork I have ever had. Braised to perfection, it was so sweetly seasoned and juicy that it practically slid off the bone onto the potatoes it was perched upon. For me, the pork more than made up for the not quite perfect first course. Julia chose the roast chicken, which was very juicy with skin that was cooked to the point where it was golden and crisp without the dryness that often goes with crispy chicken. It was served with a strudel which was a bit on the sweet side and didn’t quite seem to compliment the perfectly cooked chicken as well as she had hoped. Although the strudel didn’t quite work, Julia felt that the fact the chicken was cooked so perfectly, it illustrated that they are able to take a simple dish and really make it stand out out among the more complicated dishes.
For dessert, I chose the Napolean which was pretty good, but as far as creamy goodness that can be cream filled puff pastry, it just needed little bit of help. I just think the pastry part of it was a bit on the dry side, and with little more cream it would’ve been the perfect dessert. Julia’s apple tart was also very good but lacked in a very important are of apple tartitude: the apples. There was ice cream (which was obviously handmade) and there was pastry, but where were apples? It’s possible that were both too full to enjoy our dessert because really it was pretty tasty. As far as Julia was concerned, a better dessert would have been the key lime cocktail which was like liquid key lime pie in glass.
This brings me to one little thing that is unrelated to the meal or to The Mint as an establishment. Couples out there in internet land, please save your fights or breakup for a time when you are not in an expensive restaurant with other people around you. The table next to us decided it was great time to get into a fight and subsequent fits of crying that go with it. Just don’t do this ok? Thank you.
Our experience at The Mint was really a great one, we have a few little critcisms, but as whole it was a truly amazing combination of dishes. We are both looking forward to a time when we go and try more of their more expensive dishes.