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Review of Mio (Long)

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I didn't plan for this to be so long when I started it, but here goes...

Review of Mio

We finally went to Mio last night (Friday) and I wanted to fill everyone in. I was going to respond to the ‘Has anyone been to Mio’ post, but decided to create a new topic instead.

We had an 8 pm reservation for a party of 6. My husband and I arrived about 10 minutes early and decided to grab a drink at the bar. I had a pisco sour (a South American drink popular in Chile and Peru which is very sweet and limey) and my husband had a glass of scotch. The bartender was very knowledgeable and made recommendations not only on drinks but also on the food menu. We noted that we were waiting on the rest of our party and he recommended a few items, including the beef short rib and calamari appetizers. More about those later. I had my share of pisco sours in Chile and this was up with the best of them. The presentation was beautiful too—in a martini glass (instead of a champagne glass, as I’m used to)—with about 4 or 5 little dots of a red cinnamon-spicy syrup floating in the white foam on the top. Our friends arrived soon after we ordered our cocktails and followed suit, getting a glass of wine, beer, and another scotch. Drinks were priced as expected in DC—I think each of ours was in the $8-10 range, although my husband indicated that the scotch (Laphroig 10) may have been a little bit overpriced for what it was.

After settling our bill at the bar we were escorted to our table (round as requested).
Upon settling into our seats and viewing the menus we ordered a bottle of Carmenere (under $30!) and our starters. We took the bartender’s advice and requested the beef short ribs and grilled calamari, along with the heirloom tomato salad and the squash blossoms.

The presentation of the appetizers was beautiful and they all tasted wonderfully, although none of them were huge portions ideal for sharing…
The short ribs were very tender, but a bit fattier than I prefer. I don’t remember much of a sauce, although my husband says it was some kind of chili sauce. (After reviewing the mio website, he seems to be correct.) The calamari was very fresh—not too chewy—and came with some vegetables. I only got to try the calamari itself. This portion was quite small but tasty. My two favorite starters were the heirloom tomatoes and squash blossoms. The salad had a beautiful presentation—small heirlooms were quartered, covered in strips of slightly melted buffalo mozzarella, with a basil garnish and light basil olive oil, salt and pepper. And the squash blossoms were filled with goat cheese and flash fried. They were melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Oh, and our waitress accidentally brought us a scallop appetizer as well (we were contemplating that vs. the calamari, opted for the calamari, but I think she put in the order for the scallops as well accidentally). I’m never impressed with the size of a scallop appetizer—at Mio there were two relatively small scallops pan seared and served in a corn sauce. They were tasty, but I don’t know if I’d order them again.

For entrees between the 6 of us we got 2 strip steaks, tuna, halibut, lamb loin, and veal cheeks. My entrée was the veal cheeks which were certainly the best of the bunch, IMO. They were incredibly tender and served over a mashed potato puree in a red wine reduction sauce (my favorite). I’m not sure if I’ve ever had veal cheeks before but if I have they weren’t as good as these. My only complaint is the lack of veggies that came with this. The plate included one baby carrot and one piece of asparagus. (We could have ordered vegetable sides but opted not to—next time I might reconsider.) I also enjoyed the taste of lamb I had. The steak was good, but not my favorite cut of meat (I prefer filet). It also could have used a bit more seasoning. I didn’t try the fish entrees but my friends who ordered them seemed to enjoy them, although the one who ordered the halibut said she doesn’t think she would order it again. It came out with some mussels (de-shelled) on top, and a gelatinous substance on top (explained by our server as “mussel gelee”—it looked unappetizing to me). I don’t remember much about the tuna, although I know it came out to our friend’s ordering specification of rare to medium rare.

By the time we were finished with our entrees we were pretty stuffed, but decided to share the special dessert of organic berries with sabayon. It was a perfect ending to the night. We finished the meal with some coffee as well.

All in all, Mio was a lovely dining experience. The atmosphere was very warm and welcoming (you can view photos on their website: http://miorestaurant.com), the service was attentive, the food was delicious, and the price was right. The total came out to about $140 per couple, including 2 bottles of reasonably-priced wine and 3 more scotches the men ordered at the table, tax, and tip. We definitely plan to return.

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  1. Great review. Mio was definitely fun on Friday (I dined with the author), and I would just add a couple of thoughts to supplement her excellent review. (Regardless of my nitpickings, the company was great and we had a fantastic time.)

    1) I had a Mio Mojito ($8) - one of the better mojitos I've had in DC. Made before my eyes, it was strong with great tartness and depth. The candied mint leaf was a nice touch.

    2) The second bottle of wine I ordered was a Tempranillo from a smaller producer, Epifanio, of the Ribera del Duero region. For $32, a great deal although very different from the Carmenere. I was impressed with the variety of styles and price ranges for wine options from Spain and Latin America. Other regions were less well-represented, but it was an eclectic, thoughtful wine list overall.

    3) The service and atmosphere were casual and welcoming. I liked the design of the space with the separated dining areas.

    4) As you described the vegetables and sides which accompanied the entrees were bare and IMO didn't always accent the proteins to which they accompanied. I was excited about the combination of flavors in the meditarranean style presentation of the lamb with chickpea spread, ratatouille & harissa oil. The meat iteself, while tender enough, was underseasoned and failed to accent these sides or meld its flavors to invoke the mediterranean as the description would indicate.

    5) Veal cheeks were definitely the best of the entrees I tried. Good call.

    6) My fiance was disappointed with the halibut and mussels entree. Although moist anda good size portion, it also was underseasoned and made for really strange flavor combination with the gelatin and shelled mussels.

    Overall for me, a fun, welcoming place for drinks and appetizers with friends. But still a little rough around the edges with melding "contemporary american with international accents" for some of the entrees.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dzherbst

      The feedback here seems spot on, based on my several dinners at Mio.

      I have had the halibut before and thought it was good but not great. This last week I had the short ribs for the first time (the description above was perfect) and they were the best I've ever had.

      Although not touched on above, it's a great spot for an after work happy hour - especially if you like latin american cocktails like my fave the pisco sour and a very good wine selection (great malbecs). As a plus, the owner has always been there every time we have dined. He is very attentive and deservedly proud of his restaurant.

    2. Thanks for the report. I went there for happy hour a couple months back and had a great experience. Excellent drinks, and I enjoyed the small plates bar menu, particularly the meatballs. Was surprised that the restaurant was totally dead at the bar!

      2 Replies
      1. re: bylinemjf

        I just had dinner there (foie gras and the smoked gnocchi) - it was aweful and took forever and was VERY expensive$$$. I even think the foie gras was from a can!

        1. re: trentn

          I had dinner there last wed. and had a very nice meal, service wasnt great but the food was. Mabey trentn isnt used to having foie gras in a ballontine form but it was nicley done. I also had truffled burrata cheese with asparagus, deliciously cooked shrimp, a pretty good piece of hlibut, and braised beef cheeks it was all very pleasant. and having that 5 course tasting menu + cheese was quite a value. It is hard to find a reastaurant that will exicute consistatly at a good value.. I will deff return to mio