Let me start by saying that I absolutely love Mistral so could this be a biased review? Perhaps, but I think not as it has always been and still remains one of my favorite restaurants as was proven again this past weekend. Everyone knows this as I have harped and gushed on about Mistral for the last 14 years – literally as long as I have lived in Boston.
It is hard to put into actual words what I like about it, but let me try. I like the fact that you can have an elegant dinner to celebrate an event in the dining room. I like that you can sit at the bar and share a pizza and a bottle of wine and I like that you can stop by for an Espresso Martini or Cappuccino and just sit in the lounge and relax. I like the décor and its sophistication, the atmosphere, which I find is completely unpretentious, and I especially LOVE the food created by Chef and Owner, Jamie Mammano. On this particular occasion, I decided to have dinner at the bar with my friend Catherine on a quiet Saturday night over the long weekend. I am not sure I have ever been to Mistral on a weekend and it is that quiet. It was a lovely change.
We sat at the long spacious bar on big wicker bar stools and were immediately greeted by a very friendly bar person. Looking at the wine menu, I opted for the 2010 Sancerre, Château de Sancerre (Loire Valley, France – $15) and Catherine went for the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bishop’s Peak (Paso Robles, California -$12). I am a huge fan of Sancerre and even more so with our choice of appetizer of the Tuna Tartare, which I was so happy was still on the menu.
We decided on sharing the Tuna Tartare, which Mistral very kindly split for us. I have still not found a restaurant that does Tuna Tartare as good as Mistral. The taste and texture is wonderful and just sheer pleasure. It melts in your mouth with a sharp sour sweetness that makes you smile.
For our entrees, I was wondering what on earth to get until I noticed the duck. Whenever I see duck on a menu it is hard for me to keep looking at other options. I become very focused on wanting that particular dish, so that is what I picked – the Half “Whole Roasted” Duck. The duck was perfectly cooked and just fell off the bone at a light touch. A rich, strong gamey taste, which I like a lot. I also enjoyed the mushroom risotto with its earthy, creamy taste and texture; however, I wasn’t a fan of the kumquat gastrique as I didn’t like the sharp contrast to the strong flavors of the duck and risotto. Nevertheless, I worked around it very well.
I am quoting Catherine directly on her Grilled Wild King Salmon… “My wild salmon was awesome. Nicely cooked and really tasty. Sometimes salmon can lack flavor or be overwhelmed by sauce (like with wasabi) but in this case it was just right. Really fresh, clean flavors. I want to go back like right now.”
We ended our evening with ice-cream. I ordered the Mint Chocolate, which I didn’t like at all as it tasted like there was dill in it. I don’t think there was, but it was a super strong herby flavor – perhaps just fresh mint? I don’t like to complain but when I said to my friend I didn’t really like it, I was overheard and the plate was immediately taken away and a Chocolate Dulce de Leche was put in its place, which I completely devoured with gusto. That is service for you!
Attention to us was constant and friendly without being overbearing. We were never without water, another wine or a question of “what else can we do for you?” Before we knew it the restaurant, bar and lounge had completely emptied and we were sat alone at the bar talking to the staff wrapping up a perfect evening, at least for us it was.
Mistral can be such a fun people-watching place, especially around the bar and lounge area. It tends to be quite dressy and a little bit up-market and of course pricey, however, I still think it can have a casual feel. I probably wouldn’t wear jeans and a baseball hat but I have seen people dressed like that. I prefer to always make it special and dress for the “Mistral” occasion. With this in mind, I do not go to Mistral on a regular basis, which keeps it very special for me. Enjoy Mistral as a celebration or just for “Restaurant Week”, which they always do well! Of course, you can always go on a regular basis for pizza and a beer at the bar!