(Originally posted 7/5/06)
While walking down Blanchard Street, you might pass by Mistral and not even be cognizant of its existence. There is a sign with its name but it is very unassuming. It is almost the type of place you only seek out if you previously know of it. Inside, it also has a very minimalistic decor. It lacks any flashiness though is still elegant in its almost austerity.
We began the evening consulting the wine list. The wine list is not voluminous though it has a good variety of wines. But, it is a pricey list with very few wines less than $70. Though, with some later research, the markup on some of the wines is not that bad. They simply have chosen higher end wines. I selected a few items that I wanted to ask about.
There is no food menu here. You have your choice of either a seven or eight course tasting menu (the extra course being a fish dish). You can also get wine pairings to accompany the meal for an extra $100. Our primary server was Rene Guitierrez, the Dining Room Manager. He ran down the items on the tasting menu and it all sounded delicious. We decided on the eight course meal ($90) but declined the wine pairing.
I consulted with Rene about some of the wines I was interested in and found that Rene was very knowledgeable about the wine list. In the end, on his recommendation, we choose a Flowers Pinot Noir from Sonoma. Rene had recommended this wine out of several similar pinot noirs. He was not pushy or snobby in his recommendations. It was the type of sommelier experience that you want. The Flowers was also a superb pinot noir, very Burgundian in style. It was not a typical California fruit bomb, but a more subtle wine. It paired well with our food, not overpowering any of the dishes.
Our meal began with an amuse bouche, sliced Georgia prawns with a vanilla sauce. What a start to the meal! The vanilla was very subtle and did not overpower the prawns. The prawns were good sized and cooked well. We followed this up with a corn soup with scallop. The scallop was seared on the outside and raw inside. This second dish was also very tasty. The soup was creamy and the scallop was very tender with a nice crisp skin where it had been seared. Our next two selections were the fish, halibut cheeks and Alaskan black cod. Both were good sized portions of fish, cooked to perfection, obviously very fresh and with subtle but intriguing sauces.
I should also note that the presentation of all of these courses was excellent. The courses also were not rushed. There was plenty of time to savor each course, to have some wine and converse with each other. Our server Rene was also very helpful, explaining each course to us, and also engaging in some general conversation. He was very personable and helped make this dining experience even better.
Next, we had foie gras with gingerbread crumbles upon it. AH!!!!! Such silky smooth and delicious!!! 100% decadence. Next was slices of squab, tender meat with a nice crisp skin. After this, came a palate cleanser of honeydew melon sherbet. Our first dessert was a parfait with pancotta. Then, we had a trio of almond cake, a fruit tart with raspberries and ginger ice cream. All of these desserts were superb, especially the almond cake. By the end, we were more than full, but extremely pleased with everything.
Overall, this rates as an outstanding dining experience. Service was impeccable and the food was scrumptious. At $90, the eight course tasting menu is very reasonable for this quality of restaurant. I do wish there were more wines less than $70 on their list. But, I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the Seattle area.
113 Blanchard Street
Phone: (206) 770-7799