Dinner at the Hunt Club

How’s that new chef?

By Kathryn Robinson July 15, 2009

Remember how the Hunt Club staged that reality-show-style cookoff for a new top toque last spring?

Now that winner Matthew Mina has had time to find his stride, it seemed only fitting to take his menu for a test-drive.

The room hasn’t changed, still dark and brick-warm and classic as the manor library after the hunt. It smelled like roasting lamb…but then the Hunt Club has always smelled like roasting lamb. If only figuratively.

But still…a whisper of an update hung in the air. Now in place of the jazz standards on the sound system, hip acoustical tracks. Instead of the mannered, feminine typeface on the menu, the declarative Times New Roman.

And less of a Mediterranean sway to that menu than on our last visit. Still the beet salad with goat cheese; still the tomato-basil soup; still the Penn Cove mussels. But now, duck confit with watercress, and scallops with raisins and almonds and pureed cauliflower in place of the carpaccio and antipasto.

That confit? Executed nicely; faulty in conception. Too bland. A heap of lovely duck, topped with watercress and other oiled greens, including some slivers of Granny Smith, and then capped with grilled Como bread. No contrast, color- or flavor-wise. Ho-hum.

Bolder was a pork belly entree served with swoony roasted creamed corn—coulda eaten a bucket of this—topped with a tangle of savory greens and served alongside some well-intentioned pickled cherries.

Bring on the cherries, absolutely—‘tis the year for this crowning gem of Washington orchards. It just wasn’t the most harmonious match for this plate.

Can’t wait to see more of what you’re doing, Chef Mina. (Including your Friday afternoon First Hill Block Parties, which bring street food to the fancy piazza of the venerable Sorrento.)

But this particular diner would like to see a little more of the chops that landed you the job.

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