You can never give someone or something just ONE chance. Growing up, we all had foods we didn’t like. Hello, brussels sprouts? Can you imagine if you never tried them again after trying them just once as a kid? Your life would have a big giant brussels-sprout shaped hole in it.
So when Mistral popped up on my Open Table results, I knew it was time to try dining there one more time. It wasn’t like we had a bad experience there the first time. It was 2013 and the restaurant was pretty new to the Princeton scene. Fast forward three years later, and Mistral is being recognized left and right for their delicious cuisine. It was time to give it a second chance.
We arrived as skeptics, we left as extremely full, happy (and slightly tipsy) people. It was 60 degrees and the sun was still up at 7pm, a cause for celebration in mid-March. We sat outside and they had the fireplace and heat lamps going. Here’s what we ordered:
Half dozen Beausoleil Oysters with spicy kohlrabi & sesame: a bit on the bitter side, but fresh
Shrimp Beignets with creamy horseradish mustard: not extremely shrimpy, but great texture and a perfect dipping sauce
Braunschweiger with caramelized endive & figs (server’s suggestion): I loved the fresh figs and greens alongside the creamy pate. Glad we took our server’s recommendation.
Tuna carpaccio with warm tendon beurre blanc, kohlrabi, caviar: Kohlrabi again? Lucky me! This fresh fish was a nice follow to the Braunschweiger. I didn’t want to share this dish with anyone.
Smoked Short Rib with cabbage dumpling, herbed potatoes, sour broth (husband’s order): This wasn’t the melt-in-your mouth slow braised short ribs you typically see on a menu, but I was relieved because by this point, I was pretty stuffed. The cabbage dumpling was innovative and something I wouldn’t mind getting the recipe for!
There’s plenty on the web about Mistral and their amazing chefs, so I won’t dive too deep into the details, but what I love most about Mistral is their vibrant local menu with inclusion of produce that you don’t commonly see: kohlrabi, hen of the wood mushrooms, persimmon, sunchoke, epazote. Everyone should get to experience these diverse flavors.
Oh, and their cocktails? Refreshing and innovative. When we were there in 2013 there wasn’t even a bar, and now there were all these delicious libations to consume. Try the All The Pretty Girls (vodka, lavender, kumquat honey shrub, lemon, oj, aperol, orange bitters) and Trouble (gin, cucumber, jalapeno, black pepper, lemon, oj, aperol, elderflower).
So how much of a difference can three years make? In Mistral years, it’s huge. We both agreed it wouldn’t be another three years before we return – it might not even be three months.
- Must Try: Braunschweiger and the Tuna Carpaccio
- For every two people, try 2-3 small plates and 2 larger plates for more than enough food
- Farm fresh fare in small plate style