Monday, March 22, 2010

Mint/820

820 N Russell Avenue
Happy Hour: Monday and Tuesday 4 - 8 PM, Wednesday ALL NIGHT,
Thursday - Saturday 4 - 6:30 PM, Sunday ALL NIGHT


All night Wednesday and all night Sunday make this location a great one to hit up if you are looking for fancy drinks at a discounted price. It really is about the drinks at this place, too. The owner has been listed in multiple foodie magazines as one of the top mixologists in the country. She also recently published the book Hip Sips in which she shares the recipes of some of Mint's signature cocktails.


During happy hour, the house cocktails (about a dozen or so if you include the specialty drinks) are just six dollars each. The complete cocktail list is very intriguing and at just two or three dollars more, I'm sure many people pick and choose from either menu knowing that what they are about to indulge in will be well worth the price.


I was originally set on ordering the Mission. Its mix of vanilla vodka and fig puree made it an obvious choice for me (a girl with a very sweet tooth). Saddened by the knowledge that they had recently used the last of the fig puree, it was recommended to me to try the O. Apparently it's one of the most popular and was recently on the Food Channel. (Knowing that the recipe is easy to find will not, however, have me making these at home. Don't get me wrong. It was quite good and something that I would especially enjoy in the summer heat. I'm afraid, though, that I couldn't make it as well as they do.) The O is an orange rum mojito made with fresh citrus juices and simple syrup. (And, because I know that some of you will ask...with just a few torn mint leaves, it's not too planty.)

For dinner, I selected the soup of the day (a four dollar purchase) and the fried, stuffed risotto balls (at six dollars for four). The risotto balls were interesting, and not really what I had expected. They were crisp and (obviously) fried on the outside, but soft and cheese-filled beyond that first bite. The cheese was exceptionally stringy, making these a definite fork food. They were served with a roasted tomato sauce (sounds fancy, huh?). The fried risotto balls (listed on the regular menu as arancini (now that sounds fancy) seemed to be a popular happy hour menu item as I saw the two closest tables had ordered them as well.


At first bite, the green chili soup was just a vegetable soup (quite similar to the flavor and consistency of Campbell's, actually) but with heat--lots of heat--added at the last minute. (My nose was running as I finished the bowl.) I was not displeased in any way by the soup, but was not impressed either. I am quite curious to know what other soups cycle through the "du jour" status. (And, for those of you--unlike me--who are not opposed to anchovies, they have a great looking spicy Caesar salad on the menu, too.)


Also on the happy hour menu (but not really listed at a happy hour price) was the lamb burger. My boyfriend enjoyed the taste but was less than impressed with the price. Served with sweet potato fries (which are available as a side for $3.50 during happy hour) and a fancy mayonnaise concoction, I was surprised to see just how juicy this lamb burger was. (I could have easily finished the sweet potato fries that were left on the plate had they not been caught in the downpour of lamb burger juices.) It's been too long for me to remember, but I'm guessing that--despite the mess--a juicy burger makes for a great burger.


Mint and 820 are located just a block or two up from one of the first yellow max lines past the rose quarter. It's close to the Gotham Tavern as well as the Widmer Gasthaus, and just a half-mile or so down the road from the Mississippi neighborhood. It seems to be in a great location and has done well since first opening nine years ago. I'm most impressed with the cocktail menu and plan to return in the near future.

Food: Meets
Drink: Exceeds
Service: Nearly Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Nearly Meets

-b


820

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