Editors' pick

Mintwood Place

Nouveau American
$$$$ ($25-$34)
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Editorial Review

When he opened Mintwood Place with restaurateur Saied Azali three years ago, chef Cedric Maupillier hoped to get people talking with a few novelties, among them escargot hushpuppies, one of the best mergers in recent memory, and baked Alaska, torched at the table. Both dishes are still around and still great, but they’re hardly the only conversation pieces helping to fill this American restaurant with a French accent.

If you want to know what separates Maupillier from so many of his peers, ask for his chicken liver tartine. The appetizer embodies everything that’s important to the chef. A thin slice of griddled baguette weighs in with some crunch; the mounded spread balances the richness of mayonnaise with the tang of mustard and vinegar; and what looks like a dusting of Parmesan turns out to be (no kidding) grated, pickled sunchokes. On top of all that, the dish is a beauty, sprinkled with minced chives and presented in a small cast-iron skillet. The same goes for the chef’s brined pork chop. It’s a terrific piece of meat that acquires a coating of toasted lentils after it emerges from a wood fire, and gets joined on its plate with a “carbonara” made with spaetzle, Swiss chard, cream and guanciale. One of the most gorgeous salads of my whole summer: heirloom tomatoes and a bunch of beans — filet, romano, black-eyed peas — splashed with a simple vinaigrette, with pansies for color and toasted quinoa for texture.

The drinks are polished, the service is easy and the dining room uses brown leather booths, a scattering of antiques and reclaimed wood to put diners at ease.

2012 Fall Dining Guide

2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012

Leave it to Cedric Maupillier to make a bestseller out of escargot hushpuppies, an appetizer that draws applause from the most discerning Southerner in my iPhone. The French chef with an affection for American classics put Adams Morgan back on gastronauts' radar last year when he and restaurateur Saied Azali introduced this sepia-toned space, all leather booths and reclaimed wood. The heart of the kitchen is a wood-fired oven, from which a parade of soul-stirring dishes emerges. Long Island duck is sliced over a hedge of sauerkraut, gilded with a spirited green peppercorn sauce and sweetened with juicy grapes. North Carolina shrimp hook up with porgy, a rare sight on a fine-dining menu but a fish that Maupillier likens to dorade. Artichokes on the plate nearly upstage the entree. Wine, thyme -- and licorice basil -- elevate the vegetable from the routine. The casual service reinforces the restaurant's desire to be a neighborhood spot, and the clamor forces you to lean in to hear your companions. Neither detracts from the sizzle of some of the best cooking in town.

2013 Fall Dining Guide

2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013

Cedric Maupillier is a master of turning familiar recipes into quiet sensations. Eating the chef's vivid green soup au pistou this summer, I felt transported to a garden in Provence. The precisely diced carrots, zucchini and tomatoes demonstrated his philosophy that "50 percent of flavor is visual," although Parmesan cheese and roasted cabbage in the bowl surely upped the soup's appeal. Burrata salads are as common on menus as candy on Halloween; Maupillier elevates an already sumptuous cheese, flown in twice weekly from Italy, by tucking roasted hazelnuts underneath, ringing it in frizzy fried kale and finishing it with a racy tamarind sauce.

His menu is French but also American, which means he incorporates ideas from around the world. To eat his feathery fettuccine, meaty with the best bolognese in town and topped with a blizzard of Parmesan, is to have dinner somewhere chic in Italy. Crisp suckling pig croquettes resting on dollops of mole and brightened with sauteed corn, and a forest-green risotto whipped up from five hearty grains show a chef who thinks outside the norm, and always succeeds.

The sepia-toned room with the pressed-tin ceiling in Adams Morgan is one of the most clamorous but also one of the most savory.

P.S. Maupillier's hamburger rocks. So does his brownie sundae.

Reader Reviews

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Simply Wonderful

My wife and I spent our tenth anniversary at Mintwood on Saturday 9/6/14. It was absolutely fantastic, from the hostess who welcomed us with "happy anniversary," to the perfect table and an anniversary gift from the chef (champagne!), to a fabulous, attentive, knowledgeable server (Chris) who took excellent care of us even at the height of the evening rush. The food was excellent, perfectly prepared and delicious (and timed perfectly at our request for a leisurely pace). I cannot recommend Mintwood Place highly enough.