Three talented chefs – all who have made the rounds in DC’s fine dining scene – have helmed the kitchen as chef de cuisine at Mintwood Place since it was first opened by owner and RAMMY winner Cedric Maupillierin in 2012. Two years ago that title was taken over by Le Diplomate alum Matthew Cockrell, and this year he decided it was finally time to revamp the Adams Morgan brasserie’s happy hour menu.
“The happy hour menu before was just sad,” Cockrell says of the restaurant’s previous bar and lounge offerings. “It was literally just discounted portions of our regular menu.”
The menu, which will change throughout the course of the year, has since been updated with several modern French-inspired dishes that can’t be found on Mintwood’s regular dining menu. On the cocktail and sweets end, bar manager Matthew Wilcox and pastry chef Stephanie Milne have created new additions in line with each other’s respective expertise as well.
The first iteration of the new menu at Mintwood Place is appropriately seasonal with a few inventive surprises. Wilcox concocted three new cocktails, two of which taste like autumn in a glass. There’s what he calls The Cayuga, a mix of rye whiskey, riesling, spiced cider, grenadine and tarragon; and Anjou Can Tell Everybody, a classy concoction of cognac, Anjou pear, lemon, lime and Peychaud bitters. For those who appreciate when a beverage includes a little snack for an all-encompassing flavor experience, the latter comes with a pear slice affixed to the rim of the glass.
“My idea was to make a pear Sidecar,” said Wilcox of his fall-inspired interpretation of a traditional Sidecar, which is typically made with orange liqueur.
Where the first two libations act as an ode to fall flavors, Wilcox turned to a sour cherry aperol for the third cocktail, All Over the Map. Sour cherry liqueur and pineapple juice are mixed with chamomile bitters and soda to create a light and refreshing cocktail. Here, Wilcox proves that just because it’s fall, that doesn’t mean you have to conform to the season’s staple flavors and spices.
Chef Cockrell took the same philosophy to heart when thinking up new bar fare to add to the happy hour menu. A standout item includes a nod to DC’s own mumbo sauce, which is incorporated into incredibly tender smoked duck wings that come with a light and tangy take on coleslaw. The scent of this dish wafts from across the room when it makes its way from the restaurant’s open kitchen to your table.
Then there’s the comfort food: gooey skillet mac and cheese and crisp corn fritters paired with a chervil remoulade dip. It’s admittedly difficult to go wrong with food options that are covered either in warm and melt-y cheese or fried.
Carnivore lovers will enjoy the chef’s charcuterie board which includes wild boar salami, pate, port wine onions and chicken liver mousse (a staff favorite). An artfully plated, warm and mouth-watering lamb merguez with chickpeas, cucumbers and beet hummus is equally satisfying.
These dishes, among the other selections from Mintwood’s new bar and lounge happy hour menu, are all shareable and less than $10.
There are plans to add other seasonal dishes to the happy hour menu including moule frites with tomato and garlic broth with pancetta, fennel and crème fraiche, house-made duck and pork rillettes with pickled onions and rustic bread, and house-made Italian meatballs with tomato-basil sauce.
Mintwood Place intends to include vegetable sides such as Chef Cockrell’s signature ratatouille with lemon quinoa and shaved turnips and parsnips. Pear onion tartlets will also be available along with autumn soups like split pea with Tasso ham, wild mushroom with crispy wild rice, and butternut squash with spiced pepitas. Mountain pies (also known as “Campfire Sandwiches”) will return by popular demand with apple, fontina and tarragon, Dijon and ham, gouda, caramelized onion, and frisée flavors.
The aforementioned happy hour specials at Mintwood Place are available Tuesday through Friday, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Saturday, from 5:30-7 p.m. and Sunday, from 5:30-9 p.m. Draft beer is available for $5, as well as select red, rosé, white and sparkling wines for $6, a featured cocktail of the day for $8 along with the new selection of bar snacks, priced from $5 to $10 each. Dishes rotate monthly and are available exclusively in the 31-seat bar and lounge.
For more information about Mintwood Place, visit www.mintwoodplace.com.
Mintwood Place: 1813 Columbia Rd. NW, DC; 202-234-6732; www.mintwoodplace.com