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Dec 21, 2011 09:34 AM

Mistral advice

I have the chance to get a $500 gift certificate for Mistral, its a prize and as such I obviously have to pay taxes on it so it isn't exactly free.
We don't normally eat at places like Mistral preferring small ethnic hole in the walls with great food.
Bear with me and give me input to if Mistral is worth the prices seen and whether this really is a opportunity not to be missed.
For example $500 in Mistral how far does that normally go, what are 'normal' final bills there.
Thanks for your input

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  1. I have eaten at Mistral multiple times for business and a few special occasions and it has always been one of my favorites. I too typically favor hole in the wall ethnic restaurants

    It is worth it in my mind. The lamb and fish dishes are incredible. As well as the appetizers.

    With Wine etc I have gotten out of there for $250 to $300 for 2 people. It depends on how much you spend on wine.

    1. I disagree with gwanderc and think it's not worth the price. I feel that it's one of those places that is a great place for a night out as long as you aren't paying. It's in the same category as the rest of the Mammano group restaurants, Radius, and all the expensive steakhouses in my book.

      If it's not costing you much, however, $500 for two would give you a fun night with some awesome wine. For four people, $500 would likely cover most of the bill with more moderate wine selections.

      1. I echo everything DoubleMan said. It's a fine meal on someone else's dime, but not one I ever consider when it's my check to pick up. The food and service are very good, but simply not worth the prices. (That said, it has a loyal following, and I know several businesspeople who rely on it for expense-account entertaining.)

        Apps (in which I'd include the little pizzas) average in the high teens, entrees are mostly in the $30s and $40s, with a couple in the $50-$60 range. Throw in desserts at around $10 a pop, and wines that are not gently priced (think 3.5 to 4 times retail), and it's easy to hit $250/couple with tax and tip (but maybe not cocktails beforehand).

        If you're in "metro Boston", they'll send their car around to pick you up and drop you off, a nice perk.

        1. Yes, we are one of those "loyal followers" referenced above, as we love, love, love Mistral for the lovely room, the terrific staff, and the buzz you get from a room packed full of happy people. The food? Entres can be hit or miss. In fact, there have been occasions when both my wife and I had to regretfully return dishes. Accordingly, unless there is a super-sounding special, most visits find us going with three appetizers, no entre. Those most highly recommended: mushroom carpaccio; tuna tartare; steamed mussels; crab ravioli; escargots. Enjoy.

          1. If you have any need for a business dinner, it impresses clients quite a bit to eat there. And, you'll see many others doing the same. I'd estimate $100-$125/per person if you don't spend big on wine. Up it if you do. Last time I went for a work dinner, my colleague and I got the salmon and roasted duck and both left very happy.

            16 Replies
            1. re: beforesunrise

              Had dinner there recently for a company party. On someone else's dime, sure. Never will i pay my own way. Way over rated. Ordered a sirloin and asked for a side of bearnaise. The waiter's response was 'sorry, its not on the menu'.

              1. re: miketr

                I can't fault the restaurant for this. The menu offers a sirloin au poivre. It's not a steakhouse, and whipping up a proper sauce Béarnaise off-menu is not a trivial exercise.


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Having spent 12 + years in the business not including formal education, I would expect a restaurant to have bearnaise for a $45 steak, au poivre or not. And if not, then a better response than 'sorry, its not on the menu' Our party dropped in excess of $1000 on dinner. This place is skating by on a years old reputation. Blahhh.

                  1. re: miketr

                    Mistral has been a model of consistency since it opened nearly 15 years ago. Informed diners and posters can and do question the value. It is also to fair to hope they might vary the menu more on a seasonable basis. However, skating by on previous reputation? It is hard to see the basis for that comment.

                    I have dined at Mistral many times (dinner and brunch) and hosted events there. Service has always been a highlight and I have found them to be more than accommodating within reason.

                    1. re: miketr

                      bearnaise is traditionally served with a filet mignon anyway, not sirloin, and with au poivre sauce, it's certainly not necessary for either. the server's reply may not have been the most polished, but i don't think your expectation was reasonable. sorry.

                      mistral seems to appeal to a certain type of diner, who always wants the same thing. the dover sole and tuna tartare have been on the menu since day one, ya know? their demographic doesn't want innovation.

                      op: if all you're paying is tax on this gift card, then by all means go for it. there is also no rule you need to use it in one visit. have some pizzas and drinks at the bar and enjoy 2 trips. wines by the glass all teeter close to $15 a pop, and you'll be hard pressed to find bottles under $75 worth drinking.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        thanks for the replies, I filled in the paperwork so my gift card should be in the mail.
                        We don't tend to be big wine drinkers so I can imagine we will easily grab either a couple of meals or a meal and a brunch. The nice thing is alcohol will be covered so if we do decide to splurge we can do so freely.
                        I will try to remember to post back about how we get on though I must admit we tend to not eat out much in the frigid and snowy temps that January and February can bring
                        thanks again for your suggestions

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I would not limit bearnaise to a filet. It enhances any quality piece of beef, IMO. Thanks

                        2. re: miketr

                          Do you routinely order and expect to get off-menu items? "Okay, let's be sure to prep some Béarnaise in case some random diner decides that every restaurant that serves a steak should have it as an option."

                          Not reasonable.


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            I guess our expectations are different. The consensus at our table was that the entrees were just OK. 15 entrees. I must say that the tuna tartare app. was great. That I would go back for.

                            1. re: miketr

                              As you may read above, I'm not a gigantic fan of Mistral, but I still defend its not having béarnaise on hand.

                              As one industry pal put it, "Would that customer have been happy waiting the extra half-hour for them to make the thing? (10-15 mintues to make it, 15-20 to break someone out of the line who could make it, provided they had the tarragon?)"

                              Another chef I asked about this topic said, "Most restaurants haven't kept béarnaise on hand since the 1970s, when the stuff was used liberally in various dishes besides the classic Chateaubriand." He suggests that the only kind of restaurant that might keep it handy (besides a steakhouse) would be something still stuck in that era, like Anthony's Pier 4 or Cafe Escadrille in the suburbs.

                              More power to you if you like béarnaise on sirloin (I'm with the camp that prefers to save heavy sauces on steaks for relatively flavorless cuts like filet), but being disappointed with a modern French / Mediterranean restaurant with a fairly short menu for not having it available at your whim seems out of step with the times.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                Wow. I had decided to leave this topic behind as it appeared that we had a difference of opinion and either side was unlikely to change their mind.

                                I like bearnaise on my steak, always have always will. My expectations of a high profile (French) restaurant like Mistral would be that they provide the sauce on request. Or provide a better answer than, 'sorry, not on the menu".

                                I appreciate MC Slim JB actually reaching out to a couple industry folks, but I consider their responses as self serving. The pretense of looking down their noses at the 'stuff' is clear. Not only have I been characterized as unreasonable, but my tastes are described at out of step with the times.

                                These attitudes are the reason that I generally focus my attention on Asian, International and regional American cuisines. The pretentiousness is glaring.

                                1. re: miketr

                                  nobody is looking down their nose at it, in fact i just made some kick@ss hollaindaise for poached eggs this morning. these sauces have their place.

                                  having worked in more than one expensive steak-house, i will say it is ONLY offered routinely with the relatively lean cut of filet mignon and at least 85% of what goes to a table is untouched and thrown away.

                                  having also worked in some of boston's most acclaimed fine-dining restaurants, we rarely had hollandaise or bearnaise available, except for brunch. the well-made stuff is not meant to be held for 6 hours of service.

                                  as for mistral, i share your opinion that the food is mediocre for the price. i'd much rather blow that money at clio, troquet or erbaluce. i only go on somebody else's dime or for basically FREE, which the op can do.

                                  1. re: miketr

                                    I'm not saying your taste is out of step: taste is taste, and there's no accounting for it. As I said, you're welcome to put what you like on your steak.

                                    But I do think your *expectations* are out of step with the times, and given that you asserted some industry credentials to support your view, I put the question to my own circle of industry acquaintances. The ones who answered don't work at Mistral, but they certainly can claim some real authority on the matter.

                                    I suppose you can dismiss their opinions as self-serving if you like, but their responses certainly confirmed my own sense (based on my observations as a customer, not my own personal industry experience) that your expectations here were unreasonable.

                                    The other, less kind explanation, and frankly the simpler one, is that it reflects an unfortunate and undue sense of entitlement on your part, one that I increasingly see in customers everywhere that explains a lot of dissatisfaction with fine dining. And in my opinion, you're not entitled to whatever you want just because you are paying $45 for the steak.


                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                    I share your view that Bearnaise is not something high end restos should have available in 2011. It really is something from a past view of high end dining.

                                    I'm also not particularly a fan of Mistral. Never got it that with their middling uncreative food they charged such high prices.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      Right, but isn't Mistral also "something from a past view of high end dining"?