Minx. Only a wee, four-letter word. Nothing to worry about, right?
My food experience at Minx was tasty, congenial and sigh-inducingly satisfying. I just didn’t expect it to be so … abundant. I’m no longer 22, so my eating capacity was sorely tested in this one-sitting marathon/smorgasbord. I say tested only because I think I acquitted myself admirably. I schooled that meal!
Minx’s outdoor sails have been visible from the 134 Freeway in Glendale for quite a while, but with new blood on board, including executive chef Keven Alan Lee, it seems that the establishment has shifted from the club/meet market scene, to a fine dining, jazz music spot where entertaining is the aim. I was invited to a media dinner to get a taste for this change.
That fateful and windy April night, my friend Ayeshee and I met up with a bunch of food tweeps — SinoSoul and his wife, WeezerMonkey, Wandering Chopstick, new friend Banana Wonder and one Uncouth Gourmand with saucy intern in tow — to try out the revamped Minx menu.
We were greeted by Tony Romano, the Director of Operations, and before our gustatory experience began proper my guest and I decided to check out the bar and their half-price Happy Hour menu.
Ayeshee settled on the Pineapple Upside Down cocktail (pictured right). We loved how it was served in a snifter, the better to show off the fruity colors. I admit I was a tad jealous even though pineapple and I are not friends.
Although my pear martini was less showy, I was more than pleased with the flavor, especially because it had St. Germain in it. At this point in life, I cannot say no to anything with elderflower or lychee. The drink usually comes with a splash of pineapple juice, but since I’m allergic, the bartender Jamie left it out and was even helpful enough to detail other ingredients that might not have been mentioned in the menu, just in case I had issues (with the ingredients, not psychologically, cuz then I’d be in trouble).
We were seated at this massive table, which I kept thinking was in the shape of a Ouija board planchette, but as I see now from the diagram (it’s situated below the lounge seating area), is more paramecium in shape.
Immediately, we were plied with wine, and since I had already had a head start with my martini, they were welcome to ply, even triple ply. The Grgich Hills cab — both 2001 and 2000 served from a lovely carafe that confused me with its St. Germain label — was rather oak-y and bold, but with a smooth finish.
At this point, Chef, Keven visited out table. No, he didn’t do the knife balancing thing, but instead very nicely greeted us and introduced the food. He’s most recently from East Restaurant & Lounge and heads the My World on a Plate consulting company.
The Hearts and Romaine salad consisted of five garlic-brushed hearts of romaine, grilled hearts of palm with kalamata olives and ciabatta tostinis. A solid salad with lots of flavor. Rather large too, might I add, considering the rest of the meal’s portions were generous.
My hosts had raved about the signature creamy Five Onion Soup, and I wasn’t disappointed. Creamy is putting it mildly. This soup was Bill Gates rich. Caramelized shallots, red and yellow onions, leeks and scallions were creamed together with melted Gruyere (apparently, it needed more richness). It’s usually served in a colossal onion, but this night, it was not so much with the colossal because of the nature of the tasting menu.
Curiously, the bottom of the onion was actually cut open so that the soup was pooling out onto the saucer, which made for a pretty presentation. The bottom, however, was floating around raw in the soup, which I found a little out of place.
More cream please! In case that wasn’t enough savory richness, we were then presented with New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp, which was sauteed black pepper shrimp (perfectly cooked) in a peppery cream BBQ sauce served with a wedge of crispy garlic bread. This for me was a complete tease with only two shrimps for the tasting menu. I could easily have eaten a bowl full of the critters and been done for the evening.
Two entrees were offered, and the 14-day dry-aged Angus reserve New York steak was cooked to order. The sauce was a merlot demi-glace with a roasted shallot Zinfandel compound butter. Tasty, but I was pacing myself so I only had two bites.
I wasn’t that moderate with the jumbo diver scallops. I was thrilled that they were seared medium, so that the inside was still tender and naturally sweet. I found the tropical habanero BBQ sauce was fine, but not really necessary to accompany the scallops.
We had read the list of sides on offer, but we really weren’t prepared for the onslaught that began with this trio of fries. While most loved the sweet potato fries with maple syrup, I found the truffle parmesan fries with basil much more to my liking. The shoestring buttermilk onion fries had a creamy ranch dressing for dipping.
More sides (clockwise): Lovely grilled jumbo asparagus; a heaping bowl of Yukon gold mashed potatoes with bacon, scallions and creme fraiche (I found this a bit rich and sweet for my palate); steamed broccolini with garlic butter; A truffle radiatori with Vermont cheddar and meaty shitakes
With all the richness going on, I have to say I leaned toward the veggies the most, but couldn’t ignore the furled radiatori since it had that umami trifecta of truffles, cheese and mushrooms.
Not enough sides, you say? Okay, here are four more. Seriously, they wanted to send us all into food comas from which we’d only be able to wake through blogging. Clockwise, we had sauteed garlic spinach topped with romano cheese; a huge honking bowl of mushrooms sauteed in garlic butter and fresh herbs; brussels sprouts and bacon in balsamic butter and a brick of au gratin potatoes in horseradish cheddar cheese.
I enjoyed all of these, and although some people had an issue with the potatoes being slightly underdone, I loved that al dente texture to the layers.
Before we wheeled our tubby selves, Violet Beauregarde-style, out from Minx we needed just one more thing: Dessert. And no, it was not wafer thin.
This was the lightest and least intimidating of the desserts. The lemon panna cotta was the firmest I’ve ever had, and was lolling in a chilled berry broth with micro basil and a goat cheese cookie crumble on top.
A lovely blackberry pear cobbler was paired nicely with a Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream. And while interesting, the lavender whip cream was rather strong and aromatic. A little distracting.
I’m not a bread pudding fan in general, but the chocolate and toffee flavors won me over, and since I’m a texture-fiend, I loved the super crusty-crunchy top. A Kahlua milk chocolate fondue was also offered to further chocolatize the dish.
The bananas foster whoopie pie (with homemade marshmallows and caramel orange twile) was the only dessert I didn’t try because it featured my nemesis the banana, although I guess I could have tasted some of the bits that weren’t tainted by banana. Judging by the empty plates though, the dish was well liked.
Overall, the Minx dining experience was charming. Although the food had flourishes and a few surprise ingredients or presentations here and there, everything was straightforward about its main flavor, which was strong, solid and satisfying. It’s easy to see the passion in these dishes, and my favorites by far were the shrimp and a few of the sides — deceptively simple, but wholly fulfilling.
Considering the size of our party and our experience, I could definitely see Minx being a good place for gathering. My friend and I were eying the outdoor patios with private cabanas, which would be perfect for drinks with a group of friends. I also liked how the place had a decent-sized parking lot.
The revamped Minx will also be offering a house jazz band on Thursdays (beginning May 13) as well as The Wave-hosted jazz nights beginning June 5th. Wine tasting Wednesdays offer five wines with bites for $20 from 6-8 p.m., and I heard that there will be monthly sushi and sake nights as well. Very curious about checking out the latter.
MINX Restaurant & Lounge
300 Harvey Drive
Glendale, CA 91206