Mingle in DelSo has been on my radar for a while now, but when Elise wanted to go out to dinner with friends a couple of weeks ago, I took the opportunity to make a reservation and we finally got a chance to check it out.
Elise and the girls ordered the house sangria and enjoyed that quite a bit, even ordering second rounds. The draft situation was a little bleak for us guys though, as most of the beers available were from the not-aging-gracefully Gasko & Meyer core portfolio. A quick perusal of their current tap list yields beers that made their debut in the early to mid 2000s and rate somewhere in the 70s and low 80s on BeerAdvocate. So beer lovers, I’d say this place is not for you.
Luckily Greg and I did have the option to grab a local favorite, Outrage IPA from Crossroads, but overall I’d like to see a little more thought put into the beer selection. This is a problem with a lot of eateries in the Capital District, but if your mains are going to be priced all above $20 and I’m paying a premium for my meal, I’d like a great craft beer to go along with it. All too often the focus is put on the wine menu and beer takes a backseat, but us craft beer drinkers have wallets, too and are willing to spend a premium on higher end drafts.
With Mingle focused on local and plenty of gluten free options, Nine Pin Cider, located just a few miles away is a no brainer, as would anything from our friends at Rushing Duck for the beer geeks.
Since there were six of us we ordered a few apps to get things started. The big draw for me was the Kimchi Fries after seeing them posted on All Over Albany and DerryX Dines. This was food porn at its finest and man did these deliver. Spicy, funky, gooey, fatty, crispy all in one dish. These were perfect. It’s currently on their specials menu but man, these things should definitely stick around and graduate to the regular menu.
My main dish is where things fell flat for me, and this was to no fault of Mingle at all. The thing is, other than a few blog posts here or there I went into Mingle with no preconceived notions and a completely open mind. I didn’t check out the menu ahead of time, and I just ordered by the description that went along with the dish name on the menu. It’s rare in the area to find a restaurant with spicy dishes that actually have some heat, so when I saw the Kimchi Jjigae was listed as one of the spiciest on the menu and it had kimchi and pork belly, I ordered it without hesitation. Even though I’m not a huge fan of tofu and it was listed as one of the first ingredients, I figured I could have just picked around it and that there wouldn’t be that much tofu considering the vegan/vegetarian version of the dish came in at the same price.
When the crock came out the heat was nice and spicy, but man tofu was the main focus of the dish with only a few slices of pork belly at the bottom. I tried to eat a few bites of the tofu, but overall it was pretty unsatisfying. A quick Google search of Kimchi Jjigae would have alleviated the problem, as I would have seen most of the recipes and pictures feature tofu prominently and I should have avoided the dish all together. Again, this was my fault for not being familiar with the dish, not Mingle’s.
The food menu at Mingle is very friendly towards vegans and vegetarians, and as a completely unabashed carnivore that’s not quite my thing. However, the flavors of the dishes at Mingle were great and finding a place that does not mess around with heat is always a positive in my book. There are plenty of other meat options on their menu, and trying to find a main that’s more suited to my meat-focused appetite will be well worth a future revisit. The beer menu could use some work, but those kimchi fries are definitely going to have me coming back.
Mingle (link) | 544 Delaware Ave Albany, NY (map) | All other Mingle posts
6 thoughts on “Dinner at Mingle | Albany, NY”
love your blog and photos.
were the fries fried or baked?
i thought i heard they werent deep fried
According to Jerry’s blog they are oven baked then crisped up in a frying pan afterward.
i guess as long as there is a texture to them id be happy. just didnt want a pile of mush….
That was definitely not the case with ours. Great crispy texture. I wouldn’t let the dish sit around for long, though with all of those toppings.
Missed this post, but thought I would add my two cents on the beer list. When I first started going to Mingle, they seemed to rotating the beers a bit more often so you’d at least have some variety to look forward to, although admittedly still nothing that was up to the varied tastes on the menu. However, they’ve seemed to settle into a regular list of beers, some of which just seem to be a wrong fit (Wells and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout just doesn’t work with their menu at all in my opinion). Some of the other offerings are not bad, but I agree with you that they are missing an opportunity with the beer. Their menu is varied and creative enough to handle some more expressive craft offerings. I like your suggestion of Rushing Duck; a number of their options would be great to pair with the food with Mingle.
I do think the owners and management would be receptive to some constructive criticism on the beer. I think they are just relying on their distributor to make suggestions. Next time you are in, you should mention taking on some new beers and I will do the same. They should also look into a pairing menu with the right brewery. Could be a lot of fun.
Hey, thanks for chiming in DEN. I haven’t been back yet, although Jerry at DerryX.com has suggested to grab the Meat Lovers Bokkum special to satiate my need for a spicy, meaty dish there. So a revisit is still on the radar.
I think the beer situation is going to remain bleak there unless they do something about who they work with for distribution. As I’ve said above, they only work with Gasko & Meyer which is extremely limiting, and the only reason Crossroads was available is because the brewery self distributes. Without a massive demand for good craft beer from patrons, or a massive effort on rethinking the beer program by the management, I don’t see things improving.
They do have a decent cocktail program, and if things aren’t going to improve on the beer front, I think it would just be safest to stick with that.