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.
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.