The Mint Gastropub

By Cathy Kiley

When Chef/Owner Domenic Lombardo (aka Chef Mimmo) opened The Mint 15 months ago, he and his staff brought bustling new life to the former Bank of America building on West Broad Street in Bethlehem.

I’m not sure the term “bustling” is sufficient to describe the bold atmosphere of this vibrant eatery. The retro décor, including brightly colored furniture, shiny tile and wooden floors, starburst overhead lighting, metalwork accents and plant-filled window boxes boggle the senses and create a meeting place atmosphere unlike any other in the Valley. The place is small but carries a big punch allowing for very lively conversations with good background music and a busy bar crowd enjoying the extensive menu of bottled beers or crafted American brews on tap in addition to interesting wines and cocktails. We visited on a Friday night, and noticed there appeared to be many after-work revelers at the bar that seats about 15. We were shown to our table and Keith took our drink order and presented our menus. The crowd was a good mix of young professionals settling in for dinner along with a few of us “more seasoned” professionals comparing notes on the menu and checking out the décor. An old heavy office door has been turned into a communal table at the end of the bar that is great for sharing light fare and fun. The vault has been transformed into a wine storage room and the adjacent gated salon area at the entrance to the vault has a private dining table, the top of which is the original bullet-proof teller’s window from the bank. Also original to the bank are the terrazzo tile floors dating back to 1955.

The menu at The Mint is very different, offering everything from light fare to full dinner. Chef Mimmo explained that he refreshes the menu about every two months but many of The Mint’s favorites are kept for the tasting. The “Beginnings” menu offers small plates and tapas that are great for sharing. I decided to try a new twist on foie gras – Foie ‘n Onions. The seared foie gras was served with caramelized onions, crispy bacon and wonderful sour cherries. This was an interestingly unique presentation of an old favorite. The portion of two slices of seared foie gras was quite generous, very fresh and melt-in-your mouth delicious.  I sipped an icy Cosmopolitan and Tom a Manhattan while we tasted our other selection of Escargot with Pernod and Garlic on Puff Pastry. Although very tasty, I felt there was no comparison after tasting the exceptional foie gras.

Also on the “Beginnings” menu were Drunken Clams served with Linguica (spicy Portuguese) Sausage and aromatic mirepoix (a vegetable accompaniment); Brie in Puff Pastry as well as a seasonal Cheese and Charcuterie plate served with warm bread, spreads, fruits and nuts. There were six salad selections on the “Fork” menu while the “Spoon” menu listed fun selections such as Truffled Mac and Cheese with a Butter Crumb Top to which you may add lobster for an additional four bucks; “What a Crock” onion, beer and cheese soup; Tomato Soup with saffron and grilled cheese croutons and “Rice-a-Roni” – a creamy lemon orzo with Bay Scallops, shredded carrots, spinach and crunchy angel hair pasta. There were burgers and sandwiches on the “Hands On” menu and the “Knife” menu highlighted the dinner selections from which we chose our entrees. I had to try the Smoked Trout which I really enjoyed. The fresh trout was served atop truffled potato pancakes, with asparagus, toasted almond butter and carrot coulis. This was not only an interesting combination of savory flavors but the trout, in addition to being very fresh, was deliciously smoky and blended so well with the accompaniments. I took Keith’s advice and had Chef add a perfectly poached 60 minute egg to the dish. I loved it. Tom had the Sous-vide Pheasant with red bliss potatoes, baby carrots, a fried egg, wild mushrooms and pistachio butter. He really enjoyed his meal, being the wild game lover that he is, and this proved to be a good choice for him with great aroma and interesting tastes. I liked this dish also but my trout was the winner.

In addition to our selections, there were stick-to-your-ribs choices of Fried Chicken and Waffles with collard greens, carrots and maple gravy; Baseball Steak with Tokyo Dragon Fries, cracker-jack corn and asparagus and Pork Pinwheels with pretzel stuffing, succotash and buttered noodles. Beer battered Fish and Chips; Smoked Beef Ribs and Lobster quiche are also on the menu.  Wow – talk about “down home” cooking! Chef Mimmo has taken comfort food to a new level, putting a new twist on old favorites. When I asked about his inspiration for the very eclectic menu, he said he didn’t want his food to be unapproachable. He wanted diners to recognize what they were ordering and enjoy what they were served. He strives to deliver what he promises to his diners with fresh ingredients and wonderful presentation.

Everything is smartly served on beautiful white geometric dishes adding to the clean lines of this unique eatery, including dessert, which we enjoyed with espresso and cappuccino. Tom and I shared the Pineapple Right Side-Up Cake – fresh grilled pineapple served with buttery pound cake, drunken cherries and pineapple juice.  It was amazing. We also ordered a piece of Zebra Cake which was an addition to the evening’s dessert menu. The rich chocolate chiffon cake was soaked in black currant juice with praline cream between layers and covered with dark chocolate ganache and white chocolate stripes.  Decadence at its best and absolutely delicious!

Chef Mimmo was born into the restaurant trade. His family is of Stefano’s and Sweet Basil fame. He studied at Johnson & Wales University as well as The Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners and apprenticed at Ristorante Capriccio in Manerba del Carda, Italy as well as in Providence, Rhode Island at Capriccio Restaurant.  He and his Sous Chef, Jeff Keller, have created a menu that is not only fun and delicious but offers something for everyone and for every occasion.  Chef met his bar manager Brad Navarro while they were working in Arizona. Both are in the process of attaining Cicerone Certification which is the complete emersion in beer education including the proper storage and serving of beer; beer styles and culture; beer tasting, flavors and pairing with food and brewing ingredients and processes. The certification classes are comparable to those of the Wine Sommelier and this certification assures that patrons at The Mint will enjoy their American handcrafted beers to the max.

What I like about The Mint is that it’s open for lunch; you can stop in at the bar for an after-work drink and a quick bite; come in with friends for drinks and a 3-course dinner if you wish or come in for a late night “Happy Hour” (10:00 p.m. to midnight) offering discounted beers, martinis and menu specials. There are two outdoor seating areas at The Mint. The front patio is perfect for al fresco dining on a balmy evening and the former drive-thru lane in the rear of the bank has been transformed into a pet and smoker-friendly patio complete with fireplace which may be used well into the cooler months for drinks and socializing.  And, one cannot help but notice that The Mint is extraordinarily clean, right down to their wonderfully decorated restrooms.

Tom and I enjoyed our experience at The Mint Gastropub. Keith was a wonderful server and his input was much appreciated. I found the prices here quite reasonable for what is presented. Chef Mimmo designed The Mint to be a place that he “would want to come to” over and over again and he has done just that. It has a neighborhood feel in a comfortable upscale environment.  I should mention that because the décor of metal, glass and wood does not lend itself to buffering acoustics, the atmosphere tends to be a bit noisy – but that’s okay – it’s the nature of the building and it works here. Don’t let that keep you from trying this exciting eatery – it’s fun and an exciting addition to the Valley. By the way, check out the $100 money wrappers that ring the white cotton napkins – a very cute touch.

Located at 1233 West Broad Street, The Mint Gastropub is open for lunch Monday to Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and dinner Monday to Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The bar stays open later for after hours Happy Hour. There is plenty of on- and off-street parking. Reservations are strongly suggested, especially on weekends. Call 610-410-3810 or visit their website: for further information and menu updates.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram