The regularly fiery temperament of Indian cuisine takes on a gentle facade at Mint. The aptly colored restaurant in Midtown East brings to the area Indian favorites at the right capsaicin dosage. While I rarely go a meal without debilitating injury to my taste buds, the subtlety of flavor I admit is lost in the battle. For those of us who fail to taste through the sweat and tears, perhaps laying off the ghost peppers might be a good idea.
The wine list I am told is extensive, and curated artfully to go with the menu. A strange departure from my usual Kingfisher, but not at all unwelcome. The cocktails are notably all on the sweet side. I started with a Bollywood Martini, with a rich blend of mango. The mango is only a shadow of its subcontinent cousin, but the drink is enjoyable as far as happy hours go.
Mint carries all the usual favorites, some, unshockingly with the addition of its namesake spice. We start off with with a table full of starters, notably the Chilly Fish, Malai Kebab, and Bombay Masala Pao. The Chilly Fish, despite its pedestrian name, was a the subtle bite I alluded to before. Just the right amount of heat without having to wash it down with a dairy-based beverage. The Malai Kebab was a knock out. The simple chicken visual deceptively hid the overnight yogurt bath that had kept it tender and drenched it with flavor. The Bombay Masala Pao was a bread dish I had not come across before, but certainly worth remembering for my next Indian excursion. The tomato based sauce had a nice spice kick to it as suggested by the name, and the bread soft and cooperative in its deliver.
Samosas was as expected, a crunch introducing a seasoned potato filling worth a moment of savor. Similarly, the Aloo Methi Tikka, another Indian treatment of potato, was hardly memorable after the thought and care that went into the preparation of the Malai Kebab.
The main courses were interesting as well, though certainly was more familiar. Chicken Tikka Masala made its usual appearance, though not entirely worthy of its hall of fame status. The Saag Paneer and Dal were solid showings, though also not particularly noteworthy. Of the two Goan representatives, I was shocked to find myself unimpressed with the Lamb Pasanda yet entirely floored by what is simply called the Goan Fish. As a Polish proverb goes, “to taste right, a fish must swim three times–in water, in butter, in wine,” and here I humbly suggest the wine be substituted with seasoned yogurt, because the bass this night was delightful. Tenderized by its night in yogurt, the fish was fully able to carry the complexity of flavors.
We end our meal with a simple gulab jamun pastry with rose-water scented sweet syrup. Not particularly to my taste, but seems to be done good and proper.
My conclusion at Mint, which is not one I would have drawn going in, is to seriously delve into the seafoods of the India. Having only ventured to landlocked New Delhi, I have always had reservations about that particular section of the menu–that hesitation is no more. Mint is a lovely place for a different kind of happy hour fare, but the real takeaway should be in the form of Goa’s yogurt bathed fish.
What does this rating mean?
From the Notebook: The meal was compliments of the restaurant, though it did not affect our opinion, nor were we obligated to write. Photos courtesy of http://www.bradleyhawks.com. Mint also has a restaurant in Garden City within the Roosevelt Field complex.