Just had a nice dinner at a new restaurant here in Adams Morgan called Mantis. It's at the corner of Columbia and Mintwood, where the former "Pasta In" once stood.
I was a bit apprehensive because the chic interior suggested a hipster joint. But despite the very, very decor, I really enjoyed the meal. The menu is small, but all the dishes we had (the two of us) were well prepared, a bit inventive, and quite tasty. It was a very quiet night, so we received excellent service. And the service was friendly. One caution, the entire restaurant is smoking, so if that's gonna bother you, try to get a seat outside.
There are only two salads on the menu, a Wakame and Spinach, and a Misura (?). My dining companion and I had both and they were very good. The Wakame salad was better, but the Misura(?) salad was lighter.
Then we shared three dishes. Steamed shrimp dumplings, the one-pot (which tonight consisted of tofu, cabbage and shitake mushrooms), and sliced pork loin over barbecued adzuki beans. All three dishes were quite good, and I thought demonstrated a nice sensitivity on the part of the chef. The dumplings had a great flavor, and were served with a daikon and granny smith apple slaw. The slaw had just a little bit of heat which contrasted very nicely with the dumplings. Similarly, the pork loin was tender and the barbecued adzukis had a bite that the chef offset with a dollop of yogurt topped with green onions. We were still a little hungry after that, so we ordered the grilled calamari. The calamari was tasty and had a very nice smoky flavor. Not too tough, and the sauce was delicious.
Just to put it this mini-review in perspective, Mantis opened only a few weeks ago. The menu, while inventive, does not take advantage of local produce or the region's seasonal foods. That said, the food demonstrates a real commitment to interesting flavors and combinations that can be served throughout the year. If you find something you really like at Mantis (and you probably will), chances are, you'll be able to get it whenever you want.