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Mistral- Princeton

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to make sure that my companion and I made plans with some very dear friends of ours that we had not been out with in AGES! So, on a cold winters night we found ourselves in route to Princeton to check out Mistral, with Ike and Tina.

The restaurant is very narrow and feels a bit crowded, but the modern decor and large glass windows makes it feel a little more spacious.

Mistral is all about small plates, they encourage ordering multiple dishes and sharing. Our waiter was pleasant, a little soft spoken which made him somewhat difficult to understand in the loud setting of this restaurant, he had an accent, but it was more that he spoke softly that made him hard to understand. Mistral is also BYOB, so we came armed with 3 bottles. Two red and 1 white, my companion always likes to bring a variety when he doesn't know what everyone will be eating. And it worked out well since we tired so many small plates.

To start we each ordered an appetizer- Ike and I both had the parsnip soup, it was delish! Great texture, really smooth pureed soup- it had a bit of a smoke on it from the cured pork, really yummy. There was a kale salad on the menu so there is no need for me to tell you what my companion selected... of course he went with the kale!! However, I think there was a bit of false advertising here, because the greens on his plate looked more like mixed greens than kale- I'm guessing Kale was in there but it wasn't  the only green on the plate. My girl Tina ordered the Goat Cheese Cannelloni which was served with mushrooms and leeks. It was a beautiful presentation, it could have passed for a dessert it was so pretty. 

On to the seafood course! I had the smoked cod which was fantastic. It wasn't "lick a fire" smoky, but just the right hint of smoke. The fish was fresh and tasty. My companion and Ike both went with the Korean Octopus, which was spicy and the octopus had that great char on it that makes it crispy and crunchy when you bite it. Yum. Tina ordered the Tuna Tartare and again, it was a beautiful presentation, they really know how to plate stuff here. The tartare was also extremely delicious. 

Oh wait! Before I forget I have to tell you about this amazing thing we all had! DUCK FAT BISCUITS! Oh Lord! If they have them when you go, YOU HAVE TO GET THEM. When I tell you that this was the softest, fluffiest, most delightful biscuit I've ever had. So I can only come to the conclusion that duck fat makes everything better. Sorry duck lovers. All four of us were floored by the amazingness that was the duck fat biscuit. 

Ok, what's next you ask? Our little friends "From the Land", yes folks meat was next. I of course saw the two magical words- pork belly- and even though there were other items that sounded deletable, I could not resist the pork. It did not disappoint, paired of course with it's friend cabbage, this fatty, juicy dish was just what I'd expect of a well executed pork belly dish. However, here is where it gets fun, while Tina is just as much a foodie as me, she's still a little hesitant when it comes to trying different cuts of meat. There was a very intriguing dish on the menu- 36-hour beef cheek (which we all laughed at hysterically and thought of every funny way to use the title). Tina wanted to try it but was concerned she wouldn't like it. We all convinced her to try it, after all it was cooked for 36 hours, it would have to be tender. Being a good husband, Ike ordered the duck, which he knew Tina liked so in case she didn't care for the beef cheek they could switch. And that's just what they did. The texture was still a little off putting to Tina despite the long cooking process. My companion also ordered the beef cheek and just loved it. I tried it and also thought it was yummy, the texture is a little different than pot roast, but the gravy it was in was also marvelous.

Now, on to the final course of the evening. The sweets. When Skip sees chocolate she usually heads straight for it and this night was no exception because we were dealing with a flourless chocolate cake. Oh yes, that rich, decadent beast. This cake was exceptional and was served with fennel ice cream which was so unique and really was quite a refreshing contrast to the chocolate cake. My companion will tell you that I forced him to get the Lime Posset, but I merely suggested he might try it because he likes citrus- well he changed his order from the Brown Butter Cake (which Tina got) to that and really loved it. Apparently it's a British dish similar to custard. Ike got the Stilton Creme Brulee which is very unique, however this creamy, somewhat sour cheese was paired with the sweetness of figs and the crunch of pecans. Our table was silent except for a few moans so I think it is safe to say dessert was a success. 

As most fine dining establishments are apt to do these days, we were offered one last sweet treat with the check. They were little meringues. Usually, I love a good meringue and even though I was stuffed, I wanted to try it. It wasn't the best meringue I ever had. It has a strange aftertaste too it, like a spice that I could not quite place. And it was almost too crisp, without any softness in the middle. Ike and Tine weren't really digging it either, but of course my companion liked it- I swear he'll eat anything- except mayo. :)

To sum up, Mistral is a fun place, they have some inventive cuisine and if you are into the small plate thing and have some friends or just a companion who is willing to share and be adventurous with you, then try it!

66 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542


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