Waitsfield’s MINT Restaurant Serves Veggie Food Even a Carnivore Can Love | 7 Nights Spotlight | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Waitsfield’s MINT Restaurant Serves Veggie Food Even a Carnivore Can Love

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Mint Restaurant and Tea Lounge in Waitsfield - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Mint Restaurant and Tea Lounge in Waitsfield

Tucked into a Waitsfield alley, funky MINT Restaurant and Tea Lounge evokes a casual European corner café. It's the kind of place that, were it open in daylight, could attract cult tea drinkers clackety-clacking away on laptops as they sampled its offerings of dozens of loose-leaf tisanes and nonalcoholic cocktails. But the restaurant sleeps by day and wakes at dusk to serve seasonal, local, vegetarian food that even a carnivore can love.

Here, alternative proteins such as tofu, seitan and tempeh — all locally sourced and organic — get plenty of attention. But chef Iliyan Deskov also plays fast and loose with legumes, grains and vegetables. His ever-changing menu caters to gluten-free and vegan diners without feeling preachy, and it's assembled with an uncommon amount of thought and care.

Appetizers — perhaps endive boats cradling silky-smooth, smoky black-bean mousse; or vegetable spring rolls served with a soft, peanut-y dipping sauce — are made to be picked up and enjoyed by hand. Entrées are a more serious fork-and-knife business.

Mint Restaurant and Tea Lounge in Waitsfield - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Mint Restaurant and Tea Lounge in Waitsfield

One night, a plate of tamari-braised curly kale and broccoli is sweetened with juice and served with brown rice, black turtle beans, and a mystifying creamy sauce made of tofu, lemon, basil, kelp and — wait for it — nutritional yeast. Smoked apple "sausage" comes with poached leeks, broccoli and caramelized carrots, while a tempeh, shiitake and leek stew is accompanied by polenta cakes.

The beer and wine lists are short but well curated and approachable, thanks to Deskov's partner, Savitri Bhagavati, who runs the front of the house. (They opened the restaurant together in 2009.) Local offerings include coveted brews from Lawson's Finest Liquids and the Alchemist's Heady Topper.

Service is able and unpretentious, but not particularly fast. Deskov's cooking isn't meant to be rushed — not on its way from the kitchen to diners, and not en route from table to belly. But good food comes to those who wait. At MINT, you'll want to linger and savor every bite.

This article was originally published in 7 Nights: The Seven Days Guide to Vermont Restaurants & Bars in April 2015.

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