Um, yes please. Mintwood’s hush puppies are studded with escargots and served with creamy dipping sauce. Photographs by Erik Uecke.
Restaurateur Saied Azali has lived in Adams Morgan for 32 years—and has run Perry’s for 25 of them. Over those three decades he’s seen the neighborhood grow and shed many skins. Now he’s looking back to a time when restaurants run by the likes of Roberto Donna and Yannick Cam were the main draw, rather than bars for hard-partying twentysomethings.
“This is an incredibly rich, diverse neighborhood, and we’re seeing a resurgence of restaurants,” says Azali.
Enter Mintwood Place. Tucked below Perry’s at 1813 Columbia Road, Azali’s latest venture (a collaboration with business partner John Cidre) opens for dinner on Sunday evening. The century-old building has been transformed from a grocery/appliance store into a warm, cafe-like space outfitted with salvaged-wood surfaces, glowing lamps, and comfy leather booths. Just above, Perry’s is known for its bumping roof-deck scene and drag brunch, but the plan here is a more low-key vibe, a place where date-nighters and neighborhood families can find a quality meal and unwind over specialty cocktails (we like the sound of the Scrooge, with black rum, spicy ginger ale, and spiced molasses).
A few days before the slated opening, we found chef Cedric Maupillier working away in the kitchen, slow-cooking a whole hog’s head for an appetizer terrine, and conditioning his wood-burning oven—which will give a smoky, rustic bent to dishes such as crisp-skinned chicken roasted in a skillet and an Alsatian-style bacon-and-onion tart. A former Citronelle sous chef who served as chef de cuisine at Central when it opened, Maupillier has crafted a menu that combines dishes influenced by his Provençal background—wood-grilled salmon over lentils or a meaty cassoulet of pork belly; duck confit; two varieties of house-made sausage. There are also crowd-pleasing American classics, including fresh-baked apple pie and a bacon cheeseburger with tallow-cooked fries (for vegetarians, canola-oil-cooked fries). Then there are the nibbles inspired by both cultures, such as garlicky hush puppies studded with escargot, and steak tartare crowned with crunchy “spuds.”
Once dinner is rolling along, Mintwood will get to work on launching a weekend brunch service and—possibly—a weekday quick-service breakfast with fresh croissants, pastries, and coffee. Once the weather warms, a 30-seat patio will open up.
Check out the slideshow for dish and decor pics, but a word of warning to those who would never order fries cooked in tallow: There is a pig head in one of these photos that might make vegetarians sorta sad.
Mintwood Place. 1813 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-234-6732. mintwoodplace.com. Open Tuesday through Thursday 5:30 to 10:30 PM, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11:30, and Sunday 5:30 to 10:30.