Mistral, Back Bay, Boston

Any time I want to whisk myself away to France without the financial cost, I reread Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon. When I crave French bistro fare in Boston, Aquitaine, Bistro du Midi or Mistral are all lovely local choices.

Mistral is a restaurant that I have been to at least once a year for the past five years for Restaurant Week, dinner with friends, drinks or brunch. The restaurant is a part of the Columbus Hospitality Group, which also owns Sorellina (BMH’s review on Sorellina), Mooo… and Teatro.

I have sampled the rosemary frites, warm cinnamon buns, grueyere fritatta, and heirloom apple pancakes during a friend’s birthday brunch and they were all delectable. Over the summer, I loved the refreshing champagne/beer cocktails. Mistral’s tender sirloin au poive, chicken under a brick, refreshing gazpacho and ice cream filled profiteroles are all elegant and approachable dishes.

The regal clock and high ceilings really catch ones eye.

Mistral’s Provencal inspired ambiance and design is airy and warm.  Additionally, their French Mediterranean cuisine is timeless and they offer lovely French bistro fare. I forgot how many tables there are in the restaurant and despite the size, Mistral works like a well oiled machine.

Our server brought out a warm and rustic boule with a nob of soft butter and garlic hummus. The smooth hummus had a deep intensely garlic flavor and was very enjoyable with the crusty bread exterior and tender soft bread center.

We started the meal with a glass of Clos de los Siete Syrah from Mendoza, Argentina which had notes of black cherry and a spiciness from the oak. The syrah was perfect to sip independently as well as paired with our meal.

I thought to myself that songs from Yael Naim or from Stacey Kent’s Raconte Moi would be prefect in the background. I am obsessed with Stacey’s version of Les eaux des mars.

I started my meal with the paper thin sliced and deep pink Beef Sirloin Carpaccio with Black Truffle Aïoli, Parmesan & Toasted Brioche, The spiciness of the arugula, sweetness of the carpaccio, hints of truffle and cheese were harmonious. My dining companion and I were quite happy with this starter and I would definitely order this again.

The White Mushroom Bisque, Parmesan Crema, White Truffle Oil reminded me of the mushroom soup I enjoyed at the Caper Grill at the Radisson in Split, Croatia. The bisque had the perfect balance between light and substantial. The earthy mushroom and truffle flavor was satisfying and I found myself asking to “try” for another spoon full.

My dining companion really enjoyed the Roasted All Natural Statler Chicken Breast with Green Asparagus & White Mushroom Risotto, Fine Herbes. The chicken breast was juicy and flavorful and the best aspect of the dish was the fresh risotto. It was creamy, light and so satisfying. I wish I knew how to make risotto this good.

I rarely order lamb, so I jumped at the chance to have the Braised Pork “Osso Bucco” with Garnet Yam Polenta, Roasted Maitake Mushrooms and Marsala. I loved the combination of the sweet yam polenta with bites of the tender mushroom and pork. The rustic bread was perfect to sop up all the remaining yam polenta and gravy.

The best part of the meal was the marrow (Toro’s marrow is just as good). I used my tiny butter knife and pulled out the lightly sweet, creamy marrow from the pork bone. It was terrific and I had to do it quickly because my dining companion seemed uncomfortable by the act. (Hence the photo shading to prevent readers from being uneasy by the post marrow removal  bone remnants).

I wanted to try something familiar and that I have enjoyed before for dessert. I ordered the Classic Profiteroles with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Sauce and Pistachio Croquant. The best part of the dessert was the vanilla bean flecked ice cream. The profiteroles were a bit dry, and the pistachios were somewhat bitter. I never complain when chocolate is dark. In fact, the darker the better, but there was something that was a bit too dark in this instance. The last time I had the profiteroles, they were nice and airy, soft and the pistachios added a lovely nuttiness to the chocolate sauce.

The piece de resistance was the Vanilla Panna Cotta with Candied Nuts and Salted Caramel. My dining companion said it was the best panna cotta they had ever eaten. We have tried making panna cotta before, but after I tried it, I could not agree more. The  vanilla panna cotta had a similar profile of a flan (BMH’s rendition of flan), but sweet nuts and the super thin salty caramel tuile created exponential flavor and sophistication. I loved each individual component, but combined they were so delicious. It was a memorable and unreal dessert. We hope it goes onto the normal menu so we can go back and enjoy it again.

I am looking forward to a future visit to Mistral to try the thin crust pizzas and cocktails.

Mistral on Urbanspoon

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