Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hooray! Casa Grande is Dead, Long Live Mint Bistro!

Uptown Vancouver can add another unique and noteworthy place to eat to the list. As if we weren't fortunate enough to have Provecho (who, by the way, just got their liquor license and expanded their tiny cafe into a cozy cafe & cantina), La Botega, and Mon Ami we can also enjoy fresh, simple food at the bravely bohemian and truly tasty Mint Bistro. Mint Bistro is located in the lovely, craftsman home on Main Street that was for far too many years the insipid and gastronomically offensive Casa Grande. The new owners have done a commendable job rehabilitating and redecorating the property. The result is a space that is eye-pleasing and inviting. My two year old daughter and I had lunch there this afternoon and I cannot begin to tell you how much we enjoyed ourselves.

The regular menu was small and uncomplicated. The specials board offered a nice variety of dishes that were carefully crafted using seasonal ingredients. We had a plate of perfectly executed corn fritters (was someone in the kitchen watching OPB's Create channel the same night we were?), a nicely seasoned black bean and corn salad, and a bowl of creamy,spiced winter squash soup. The soup was the only item I thought needed help. It lacked zip. Maybe a swirl of roasted pepper puree or a pesto made with some roasted, salted pumpkin seeds would have lifted the soup above the bar. My daughter predictably chose the natural, all-beef hot dog that was served on what I think was a Surviva bun and came with a small sampling of whole grain chips and crackers.

Everything we ordered was very good and the portions and prices were more than reasonable. But here's is what really made me fall for Mint Bistro. They brought bottles of organic ketchup and mustard to the table for my little girl's hot dog. I was verklempt.

I realize I am obsessing about one minute aspect of the dining experience, but some things about eating out just really get in my head and I can't get them out. For years I've dined at restaurants that proudly and loudly proclaimed they served food that was natural, healthy, organic, local, etc....but inevitably, the same old bottles of Heinz ketchup and French's mustard were on the table and I could see the giant Cisco containers of Kraft Mayonnaise or Wesson Oil in the kitchen. I just couldn't understand why they didn't either make their own condiments or at least serve one of the many, readily available organic products. Well, I am happy to announce that someone else finally groks my thoughts on this subject and I am truly impressed that Mint Bistro obviously cares enough about their customers and pays attention to detail with regards to their food product choices.

The process of getting service was a little confusing at first. There was no one to greet us when we walked in and the bistro shares space with Mint Tea's import craft business. So I'll make it simple for you when you go check it out. Walk in the door and head straight to the counter towards the back of the building. There you will be greeted by one of a number of polite and friendly employees who will take your order. Now mosey on out to the best dining patio on the west side, open your bottle of Sweet Leaf or Orangina and wait for some seriously tasty grub to arrive. If you're not hungry, then just kick back and enjoy the calming fragrance wafting from the pot of loose leaf tea gently steeping at your table. And if people watching is your thing, the vantage point from the patio will be your new favorite place to indulge.

Get on over to Mint Bistro while the weather is still nice enough to enjoy dining al fresco and the tables are still relatively empty. It won't be long before the masses discover this little culinary gem and I predict you will be waiting for a seat before too long.

Did I mention they were open on Sundays? I think I'll be heading there for brunch tomorrow.

Mint Bistro
2014 Main Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
Serving Breakfast & Lunch
Monday-Saturday 8am to 4pm
Sunday 10am to 3pm
Map to Mint

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