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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dining Note: Mingle in Albany

Since it was pushing 100 today, I was compelled to return to All Good Bakers for some of the gazpacho I discussed last week, which was equally good the second time around.  While I was there one of the owners from AGB's well-regarded DelSo neighbor Mingle came in, which reminded me that we had never tried it.   With Ms. Garlic out of town and me not really wanting the stove or oven on in the heat and having exhausted the weekend's leftovers, I decided tonight was as good a night to try Mingle as any.

Chef Un-Hui Filomeno's menu is what could be called, to use that now virtually meaningless term, "fusion," with Korean cuisine as the starting point.  Since I wanted to try something from Filomeno's Korean wheelhouse but didn't feel like Kimchi Jigae, I chose the Yakimandu as an appetizer. The dumplings were stuffed with an interesting mixture of chicken, ricotta, Napa cabbage, and scallions. The texture, with its contrast of soft and crisp, was perfect, and the flavor was rich and managed to stay on the right side of being pleasingly without being excessively salty. The dinner menu offers a very diverse array of choices. I was very intrigued by the chicken rolotni with red pepper and homemade cheese, but $25 seemed awfully steep for stuffed chicken breast and I wasn't terribly hungry. So instead I went with a small portion of the Chicken and Chorizo Creole. The dish was one of Filomeno's ambitious combinations, using Louisiana spices in a Vietnemese-style preparation. One is never sure how these combinations will mesh, but the dish was terrific. The name ingredients were served with the Cajun trinity (except that red peppers were substituted for green ones, a wise choice IMHO) and shitake mushrooms, in a spicy and lightly creamy sauce over rice. It worked beautifully, the vegetables remaining crunchy and the sauce well-balanced. I wasn't sure whether I wanted the "Chef's spicy," so my server Krysten suggested getting the regular spice level but bringing some Korean red pepper on the side. I needed some of the pepper flakes -- I would probably get the Chef's spicy next time I try the dish -- but with the addition of pepper flakes I got exactly the heat level I was looking for. The half portion was a bargain, more than satisfying for the price.

It's a comfortable space, and the service is friendly and efficient. The list of taps is decent -- I got a Keegan Mother's Milk, and while none of the paler ales are ones I would personally select (I only order Harpoon IPA in the seemingly large majority of Boston Bars in which it's the only halfway decent option) none are bad. The beer/can selection actually has a higher selection of genuinely first-rate beers, with Ommegang, Dogfish Head, and Oskar Blues making the cut. There was a reasonable selection of wines by the glass as well. Having tried only two dishes I can only give an initial impression, but what I had was impressive; I'll certainly be back.

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