Street | Restaurant Reviews
If you’re a fan of Chef Scott Anderson’s work, but not so much of Elements’ price tag, Mistral gives you the perfect opportunity to sample some of his amazing creations on a budget.
Tucked into a corner next to the UPS Store, Mistral is easy to overlook but hard to forget. Though the storefront is unassuming enough, there is a simple charm to the airy layout and the direct view of the kitchen from the spacious bar seating. I personally chose to sit at the bar to get a front row seat on all the action, and throughout the meal, my food was passed to me over the bar by the person who had prepared it.
Mistral operates on a “small plates” concept, meaning that most customers are expected to order at least two to three dishes per meal. Plates range in price from about $8-$24. While the serving sizes were rather small, my friend and I felt very full ordering two entrées each and sharing an appetizer and dessert. One should note, however, that sizes can differ significantly between items. Order only seafood, for instance, and you may leave the restaurant with both an empty wallet and an empty stomach.
The service itself was quick and excellent. On the whole, I never felt like I was waiting or rushed during my time at Mistral. At almost every moment, I was either working through a dish or had just finished one. Moreover, the friendly servers were knowledgeable about every facet of the menu despite its changing constantly with the seasons and tastes of the chef.
If you order only one thing, I would make it the BBQ Korean octopus, which was recommended by the server as a perennial favorite. It arrived sizzling on a slab of black slate, served on top of rice, scallions and pickled shiitake mushrooms. Think buttered lobster for texture and kimchi for flavor. I wouldn’t recommend it for those who can’t handle a little heat, but the spicy sauce definitely delivered one of the most intense and gratifying flavor profiles of the meal.
The goat cheese cannelloni entrée was an unexpected success. The flaky texture of the cannelloni shell and the perfect temperature of the warm goat cheese inside pleasantly surprised me. Combined with maitake mushrooms, puntarelle and leeks, it left me wanting more despite having professed my inability to eat another bite seconds before.
For dessert, I went with the goat cheesecake, which was delicately plated and then artfully topped with a number of garnishes, from fresh grapefruit and hazelnuts to sprigs of anise. The goat cheese gave the body of the cake more texture while being more airy than most cheesecakes, and tamed the sweetness of the fruity layer of gelatin on top. The grapefruit garnishes added a sour kick, and the hazelnuts a layer of earthiness that grounded the flavor. I finished feeling a little less guilty than I usually do after a rich, decadent dessert.
Though I enjoyed just about every moment of my meal, I have to admit that my experience was soured ever so slightly when I got the bill. For all of its low-cost options, Mistral remains a cut above the average college student’s budget. The rosemary-thyme biscotti that accompanied the check helped a little. But only a little.
Mistral isn’t a restaurant you go to on any average day; it’s a place to go when you’re looking to treat yourself to something a little different. If you’re sick and tired of the same old options on Nassau Street, a trip to Mistral could be the change you’ve been looking for.
4.5 out of 5 paws
Pros: excellent value; beautiful presentation; attentive service; smaller servings
Cons: still pricy; smaller servings