Lehigh Valley is home to some tremendous restaurants. This week for Lehigh Valley Foodie Friday, I had the chance to get the scoop on one of my favorites, The MINT Gastropub in Bethlehem. Owner and Executive Chef Domenico Lombardo, or Chef Mimmo to some, gives us some of his secrets to success and more.

I’ve been to The MINT a couple of times. If I had to describe the place in one word it would be unique. From their food selection to the bank vault, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Read on to find out more from Chef Lombardo:

Discover Lehigh Valley (DLV): How would you describe your cuisine? The MINT Gastropub (MINT): Contemporary comfort food – classic dishes and preparations deconstructed and rebuilt using modern knowhow, technical proficiency and a measure of whimsy.

DLV: What are some dishes that best exemplify your cooking style? MINT: Truffle mac 'n' cheese, fried chicken & donuts, venison bolognese with ricotta gnocchi, and mussel 'n' frites.

For one of my experiences, click here to see why The MINT Gastropub is Worth the $.

DLV: Where did the name of your restaurant come from? MINT: It was an old bank, and I thought bank monikers were too obvious, so I went the route of double entendre.

DLV: To what extent are you involved with the local agricultural community, and does it influence how and what you cook? MINT: We strive to use the most local and sustainable products our geographic location allows.

DLV: What are some of your favorite cooking ingredients? MINT: I have never been one to pick favorites in anything. I love using the freshest, most unique things I can get my hands on.

DLV: When did you first develop an interest in the culinary arts? MINT: I was born into the industry. I started cooking on the line when I was 11 years old in my father’s restaurant.

DLV: What are your "tools of the trade"? MINT: My hands. Knives are fun and so are all the other gadgets and doohickeys, but without my hands, they mean nothing.

DLV: Do you have any kitchen traditions? MINT: I’m terribly fond of white chef coats … old school.

[caption id="attachment_18066" align="alignright" width="220"]The Mint Vault The Mint Vault[/caption]

DLV: Do have any advice for aspiring chefs? MINT: Stop watching the Food Network! Start cooking and thinking about food all the time. Get it out of your head that you will get out of school and be right in the limelight. Never turn down an opportunity to learn from someone and never stay in one place too long.

DLV: Did you have formal training or "hard knocks" university? MINT: All the above and then some. And, I highly recommend both for anyone who wants to be good at this profession.

DLV: Who are your mentors? MINT: My father, and every chef I have ever worked under, as well as some of my co-workers over the years.

DLV: What is the top selling item on your dinner menu? MINT: Our menu changes so often that it’s hard to say!

DLV: What year was your restaurant established? MINT: June 13, 2011.

DLV: What do you feel sets you apart from other local restaurants? MINT: Our overall approach to foodservice.

DLV: Besides your restaurant, what is your favorite Lehigh Valley restaurant? MINT: I very much enjoy Bolete, Molinari's, and Stefano's (complete bias on the later).

The MINT Gastropub 1223 W. Broad St. Bethlehem, PA 18018 610-419-3810 www.bethlehemmint.com

Cuisine type: Contemporary Comfort Food Hours of operation: Monday -Saturday 4:27 p.m. - 11 p.m. (dinner hours, bar stays open later) Average price range: $19 for dinner Number of seats: 98 Outdoor dining available? Yes Alcohol available? Yes Handicapped accessible? Yes Take-out service? Yes Wi-Fi accessible? Yes Credit cards accepted? Yes

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