Mynt has moved into the Hannibal Square neighborhood, and just like its similarly spelled namesake, it's a refreshing addition. It took over the space that was previously occupied by Fresh Cafe. I've always liked the intimacy of this place — it can feel like one of the small restaurants in Brooklyn or the West Village. But Mynt's owner, Sunny Corda, has also reopened the upstairs dining area, where there is a bar, which adds more seating while still maintaining the cozy atmosphere.
Corda also owns Saffron on Sand Lake Road's Restaurant Row. But even though both restaurants are Indian, Mynt is quite a bit different.
Mynt takes a fresher and more healthful approach to its food. In fact, it uses no ghee, the type of clarified butter that is somewhat of a staple in Indian food. Instead, Corda told me, the kitchen uses more olive oil in the recipes.
And it doesn't change the quality — all of the dishes I sampled were wonderfully luscious. And the levels of spicing were just as complex and multilayered as you would expect from good Indian cuisine.
I especially liked the Chicken Xacutti, a Goan dish that uses just about every Indian spice you can think of and then adds a bit of coconut to the curry. It was served at the recommendation of my server at medium hot, which allowed for some perspiration inducing spiciness without scorching the tastebuds.
I also liked the Lamb Pasanda, which, according to the menu, was derived from a dish served in the court of the Mogul emperors. It had cardamon and chilies, though was served mild, with ground cashews in the rich sauce. Both of the entree dishes were wonderful over the fluffy basmati rice or sopped with the chewy garlic naan.
I enjoyed the Mulligatawny, the traditional Indian soup, here made with yellow lentils and with a pebbly texture. The curried salad featured caramelized watermelon and curried shrimp on cool lettuce.
In keeping with the more healthful theme, the Delhi Samosa is one of the few items on the menu that is fried. The traditional turnovers were filled with well-spiced potatoes and peas and were quite delicious.
The Uttapham Slider was a creatively conceived and presented dish of the Indian rice pancake topped with onions, chilies and cilantro and with potato tikka in the middle. It was served with sambhar, the lentil curry that is usually served with the South Indian dish, and a cool coconut chutney.
My server was confident and professional and gladly made recommendations when I asked for guidance.
Corda also showed me the restaurant's new app, which has a really cool loyal diner feature. Each time you dine at the restaurant, you click on a plate icon then hand the phone to your server who enters a special code to verify your purchase. I love technology.
Of course, a feature that rewards you for frequent dining only matters if it's at a restaurant you want to dine in frequently. I think Mynt will be one of those places.
Mynt is at 535 W. New England Ave., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-636-7055.