Mistral- Under the Radar?
- Schielke Mar 12, 2002 04:21 PM
For a while I have been wondering why Mistral (1st and Blanchard in Seattle) does not seem to be in the food press at all. The most I have seen is an excelent review on City Search and nothing more. They did not even make it onto any of the "Top 10" lists I have seen.
Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this amazing place is only getting mild recognition?
Perhaps it is best kept a secret.
re: Sweetie Pie
I hear the comment about Mistral being expensive all the time as well. Let's have a little reality check - great food costs money. That said, you have to put things in perspective. You can have a 4 course tasting menu at Mistral for $50. I've spent that same amount for a steak at El Gaucho.
Almost everyone who has eaten at Mistral will agree that the food is beyond compare. What makes it so much better than other places in Seattle? Ask William for a tour of the kitchen the next time your there. You may get a few clues. Notice the wine next to the stove that he uses to cook with - they aren't bulk "cooking" wines, but selections available on his wine list. Next ask to see the walk-in refrigerator. There isn't one. While many places claim to use the freshest ingredients, William actually does. You can find him in the market every afternoon buying the ingredients for that night's service. Look around for the line cooks - you won't find them. This is a place where the Chef cooks the food you eat. All of these things add up to an incredible dining experience.
Mistral is absolutely one of my favorite restaurants in all of Seattle. For the sheer food experience it is right up there with Rover's, Lampreia and your favorite local restaurant. It compares to New York's Chanterelle and Montrachet. Chef William Belickis is a food genius, perhaps a visionary ahead of his time.
Some of the criticisms I've heard have been that it is too expensive, too precious, too sterile and that they shove their tasting menus down your throat. You won't hear me complain.
They were reviewed in early 2000 shortly after it opened by most of the local reviewers. There are so many restaurants in Seattle it would be too soon to review again.
MISTRAL AND LAMPREIA ARE BY FAR THE FINEST RESTAURANTS IN SEATTLE, HOLDING THEIR OWN MORE SO THAN ANY OTHER LOCAL RESTAURANT IN RESTAURANT CITIES SUCH AS NYC AND SAN FRAN. THESE RESTAURANTS RECEIVE UNFAIR CRITICISM FROM PEDESTRIAN FOOD WRITERS (HOOD,LESON,AND CICERO) FOR BEING "EXPENSIVE AND PRETENSIOUS" WHEN THE BASIS FOR THEIR CRITICISMS SEEMS TO BE THAT YOU CANT DINE IN EITHER RESTAURANT IN TEVAS AND T-SHIRTS, THERE ARE MANY WINES ON EACH RESTAURANTS LIST OVER 30$, AND YOU CAN'T JUST HAVE A SALAD. NO LOCAL REVIEWER, NO MATTER WHAT THEIR OPINION OF EITHER RESTAURANT, HAS BEEN ABLE TO CRITICIZE THE FOOD. YET THEY SING THE PRAISES OF MEDIOCRITY IN TOM DOUGLAS "THE FATHER OF NORTHWEST CUISINE". ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS I HAVE SPENT OVER $100 FOR DINNER FOR TWO AT DAHLIA LOUNGE AND EXPERIENCED SOME OF THE MOST INEPT FOOD IMAGINABLE. AND TO WITNESS HIS KITCHEN IS TO VIEW A "HACKHOUSE" IN ACTION WITH A RAG TAG BAND OF COOKS IN SHORTS, T-SHIRTS,AND DOO-RAGS. ALSO ROVERS, LONG A SAINT IN THE EYES OF LOCAL FOOD PRESS. THOSE PLATES AND PRESENTATIONS (E.G. SAUCE PAINTING AND SAUCE DOTS) WERE TIRED IN NYC 10 YRS. AGO. HO-HUM, SQUAB WITH BRAISED RED CABBAGE. THE HERBFARM (SEE LESON 4STAR LOVEFEST) I HAVE SPENT OVER 200$ PER PERSON IN THEIR DINING ROOM AS I HAVE AT LESPINASSE, DANIEL, THE FRENCH LAUNDRY, CHARLIE TROTTER, ALAIN RONDELLI, AND JEAN-GEORGES, AND THE FOOD SEEMED LAUGHABLE WHEN COMPARED TO ITS PEERS. WAKE UP SEATTLE, DON'T LISTEN TO SIMPLTON LOCAL FOOD WRITERS AND EMBRACE THOSE WHO TRY TO ELEVATE THE LEVEL OF CUISINE AND PUSH THE ENVELOPE.
I'd like to chime in on Lampreia.
one word. Overrated. Honestly. I dined their about 2 months ago and had tuna "bacon" that was so full of silver skin that there was no way to actually cut into it. We sent it back, of course fearing for our lives because the chef is a crazed tyrant (this fact is NOT up for debate---it's a well-known fact).
I would never go back. Ever.
re: chi chi
Chi Chi -- so glad you brought that up about Lampreia and the psycho chef...isn't he the owner?
I knew somebody would mention him after GG's comment about it being the best one of the best in the city.
I cannot tell you of an especially horrifying event that took place there because I haven't the time or energy to re-live it...trust me...a total NIGHTMARE.
re: chi chi
I have to wholeheartedly disagree on Lampreia. I have dined there dozens of times since '97 and had excellent experiences each and every time.
Yes, Chef Carsberg is the the chef/owner, and yes he is quite particular. Frankly I want my chefs to be particular and run a tight ship. And if they happen to scare away the food rif-raff so I can have a nice quiet dinner .... well that's just fine with me.
He is in reality a very friendly man. You will see him out in front of the restaurant chatting up locals and passers-by nearly every afternoon before the kitchen gets rolling. Crazed tyrant? Give me a dang break. You have dined there once, from what we know, and have you ever even talked to the man? This sounds like sour grapes to me.
I'm sorry you and Sweetiepie had bad experiences there. Perhaps it's just bad kharma.
I just finished reading a rant by someone re: the poor restaurant reviewing in Seattle. I must second that. I recently moved from DC ,and although not the greatest restaurant city, it had GREAT reviewers. It appears that everyone that writes for hte paper here panders to the chefs/owners. I don't get it. I have tried the standbys and been SERIOUSLY DISAPPOINTED. I only recently discovered this site (I have been e-mailing the Washington Post critic for his thoughts on Seattle b/c he visits often) and need advice!! Where do I eat around here?????
So far I have tried Tango, Marcha, Coastal Kitchen (yuck!), The Met (disgusting), Tia Lou's, Serafina, about every place on Broadway, Axis, Deux Tamales (overhyped but pretty good), Gypsy, Cactus, etc... Do you have any faves??? I am an adventerous eater and have no upper and lower limit!
WHERE CAN I GET A GREAT STEAK?