Seattle, WA, tasted on September 25, 2004 — The other night
Debbie and I ate at a local Seattle restaurant and realized that we
still hadn't posted our description of our last meal there. Rather
than wait any longer, that post is here right now. And to be honest,
while it's taken awhile, I think it's worth the wait. Eating at
over the last few years has been somewhat of an evolution. And even
though we've only been there a handful of times, the evolution of
the restaurant is quite clear. To be honest, things started out
rocky way back when we first tried to eat at Mistral. That first
visit and our second chance visit much later are documented in
detail here. But since then we've eaten at Mistral twice, and it's
now become a place we like to eat regularly. Let's get to the
I hate to characterize restaurants in some
broad categorical way, but I do think a high level description of
Mistral is not without its usefulness. Mistral is a cozy modern
restaurant, tucked away on a downtown Seattle side street. The food is
essentially modern French cooking. And strangely enough it reminds me
mostly of French meals I had in London,
Terre in particular. Think refined, minimalist French. Definitely
not overly sauced like more classical French cooking. Fresh seasonal
ingredients. Extensive tasting menus. Mistral offers three different
tasting menus - The Market Menu, The Chef's Tasting Menu, and The
Mistral Experience. That last one is the most expensive and of course,
the most inclusive. So of course, that's what we got.
It had been two years since we'd eaten at
Mistral. I hadn't quite remembered the
inside, a little dark in a romatic way, quiet, and comfy. Clean
lines. We started off with a half bottle of Champagne - Billecart Salmon
Brute Rose. It had a lemony touch to it. The amuse followed quickly -
Japanese Hamachi Tartare with Cucumber, Yogurt, and Dill. It had
simple, clean, tart, and fresh flavors. Kind of a Greek touch to it.
Soup was next. Specifically the
Matsutake Mushroom Soup with Seared Sea Scallop and Rosemary "Cloud"
(cloud means foam/emulsion). The soup was thick and rich like a yummy
mushroom shake. Believe me this is a good thing. The scallop had little
bursts of Indian spice as well as little crystal salt spikes on the
tongue. The soup was quite delicious, but what followed was I think the
emblematic dish of the evening -
Pacific Sablefish, Kohlrabi, Chanterelles and Vanilla.
Sablefish is another word for Black Cod. The
Vanilla was a nice touch. The grapes were little sweet and sour jewels
dotting the landscape. The fish was beautifully cooked with a perfectly
crispy top. The brussel sprout cups were also crispy not to mention
crunchy and delicious. Yum! I need to give some context for this dish.
As I mentioned above, I've almost only tasted fish prepared like this in
Europe. And Mistral is definitely the only place that prepares it like
this in Seattle. Imagine a cube of perfectly flaky buttery fish bound to
a square of crispy skin and dotted with a few select perfectly cooked
vegetables. It's just a singular experience and Mistral does it well.
The fish that followed,
Alaskan Halibut, Lobster and Beansprout "Risotto", was good as well,
but as Mary Alice put
it, the first was "exciting".
Foie gras was next.
Artisan Foie Gras, Passionfruit Jelly, and Crispy Apple. The apples
were definitely crispy and extra thin. The foie was decently salty. The
passionfruit jelly was super delicious. The foie could have been even
crispier but the salt spikes and fruit acidity were a good combination.
The entrees showed up next. Two of us got the
Breast of South Moulard Duck, Berber Spice, and Cauliflower, and the
other two got the
Rack of Oregon Lamb, Organic Chard, and Fingerling Potato Puree.
Both the duck and the lamb were quite yummy each with consistently warm
savory tones. The extra smooth wide flavor of the respective meat in
each dish expands slowly in your mouth and feels uniform across your
We wrapped things up with some
good cheese not to mention
ice cream and a bit of
layered cake. The dessert was refined, deliberate, and good.
Two years ago we felt that if Mistral kept
working at it, they could really become a destination we'd want to eat
at repeatedly. They have. It's not only that the cuisine is unique in
this area, it also happens to be quite good. And when we went back this
past week, Mistral didn't disappoint.
Surprisingly, Seattle is not the only place
where you can eat Mistral's food. There's now a
Mistral Bangkok. Neat.