- Foody4life Jul 3, 2012 06:57 PM
As reported here: http://philly.eater.com/archives/2012...
element's Scott Anderson and partner Steven Distiler are opening a new restaurant called Mistral in Princeton this fall.
Will be on Witherspoon, across from the library and will be casual, small plates and byob.
Follow their progress on the Mistral website.
Went tonight for dinner. All in all - a lot of promise, and going to be another great addition to Princeton dining scene (and steps away from new Agricola) To be candid, it has the potential to be my favorite restaurant in Central NJ that I can comfortably wear jeans to - but it does have a few kinks to work out
The menu and ambiance truly feels like a more casual Elements. Many difference influences on the menu, with some dishes (such as Octopus with patatas bravas screaming of Spain or the Mediterranean) while others ("kimchi pancakes" or "korean short ribs") more Asian inspired.
Best part - its byob, shaving my typical elements bill in half.
Clam Chowder Mushi - Wow - this was great. All of the flavors you'd expect in clam chowder, but complimented with "smoked potato" and razor clams. A perfect example of elevating cuisine with different techniques but with a purpose
Korean Short Ribs with Morel Kimchi - Best Dish of the night (for me) by a long shot. Unexpectedly simple - but a total knockout dish with an amazing flavor profile.
Onsen Egg with Asparagus, Fragola, and Roasted Maitakes- A close second for best dish of the night. Soft poached onsen egg - with the earthiness of mushrooms and spring notes of the crispy asparagus - a true comfort dish, somehow elevated.
Fluke Crudo with Tomatillo Jelly, Avocado Puree, Szechuan Pepper (I think - getting hard to remember?) Loved the balance and freshness of this dish. It reminded me of the type of raw dishes that I've grown to love at Momofoku Ko - where the fish is the star but still complemented by aggressive flavors not typically associated with raw seafood dishes.
Bucatini with Soft Shell Crab - My wife liked this much more than I did but it was a simple pasta, with some fresh soft shell crab - this dish was most like what I had expected from the restaurant - which upon booking my reservation, I had assumed was going to be simple, Mediterranean flavors. Only complaint that it was served somewhat lukewarm
Chicken Yakitori - Not what I expected (no "stick" served") and to be candid, I can't fairly evaluate as I do not like orange flavors with savory foods, but my wife said it was good, not great. I took her word for it for the most part but tried the chicken and felt it was fine.
Not so great
Octopus with Patatas Bravas - Just having returned from an eating tour of Spain, I am probably (unfairly so) critical of this type of dishes. Unfortunately, the potato component was more like a latke; which would be fine, if the spicier sauce that unites patatas bravas worked. The octopus was inconsistent, with some pieces tasty and others way too tough - and the sauce never came together. We both kept detecting a really off-putting metallic taste to the sauce, which made the whole dish taste medicinal. The dish has potential but didn't work in its current iteration for me.
Sweetbread Canneloni - Bland sweetbreads. Chewy, gummy Pasta. A rare total miss on an otherwise delicious menu
Desserts were tasty but not yet memorable - favorite was Rhubarb tart with Buttermilk Ice Cream which was nicely balanced.
Only gripe was that they don't accept AMEX. So despite my glowing review (yes, it is a worth a 2nd and 3rd (....) visit, I will stomp my feet in frustration that they don't accept AMEX
So.....go. It looks like they have plans to put a fireplace in the outside area and with only 45 inside seats, it may not be easy to get in to in the next few weeks
Marvelous review gwh. We happen to lunch this afternoon at Elements - it was our first time to this terrific restaurant. It is one word, amazing, a beautiful room with impeccable service, the cocktails wonderfully concoted (we later ran into the bartender (Scott?) in the parking lot as we perused the raised garden beds (of herbs and micro greens) that ring the lot - he was crushing a lemon balm leaf between his fingers as he contemplated melding with anise as part of a new cocktail. The wine list is simply superb and beyond my current pocketbook, but the glass offerings were more than serviceable. I started off with a Derby, my bride had the hardie's perfection - which was near perfect.
Roasted spring vegetable salad (cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and potato with truffle) over micro greens in a champagne vignarette had my wife beaming with the Emerald Bay Chardonnay. For the main, she had the short rib parpadelle with the Trim Cabernet.
I tried the oyster stew and the black bass sashimi for starters with a nice Riesling (Berres). For the middle, I ordered the skate which was lightly fried - fish was deliciously moist over a pea puree, and carmelized potato which I enjoyed with a glass of Alvarinho.
A superb dining experience.
Dined there Saturday night..party of 8. The food and service were excellent. Only negative is... This is not the place to share plates contrary to what the server suggested. We ordered 8 plates x 2 so they would go around the table as suggested by our server. Some of the presentations were insanely small that is was actually insulting to think one could share them. Specifically the gnocchi - each person got 2 little pieces and the calamari...only 2 small pieces in the entire dish. Better to go and let each person order their own 3 dishes.. Kudos though..they did comp us an extra dish which is always smart business and nice in my book. This would be a great place for lunch or a lite dinner with cocktails...too bad they don't serve them !
J and I dined here again last night. One big hit and a lot of misses.
Highlight was the 36 hour beef cheeks. Thin cuts of cheek, slow cooked to a fork tender medium rare and served with a bone marrow cake and greens. Could have had 3 orders of this. May be one of the best dishes we've had this year.
Midlights were most of what we ordered... fried oyster salad (three oysters with a too heavy fried coating on salad greens, just ok), parsnip soup (way too much pork overpowered any parsnip flavor), Hamachi (ok), pork belly (2nd best dish of the evening).
Lowlights were the grilled veggie salad and brown butter cake dessert. The salad was a bowl of greens lacking any *grilled* veggies, there were a few chucks of veggies covered in an orange cheese sauce in the bottom of the bowl. Dish was trying too hard to be unique. The dessert of brown butter cake was served in a small cast iron pot (very hot) but the cake was cold and dry. Ice cream and huckleberries helped liven it up but the bits of cedar (cedar greens snipped off) did not add anything to the dish.
Service was young, inexperience and spoke so softly (and directed toward J) that I could barely hear any of the evenings specials. Probably were 5 or 6 described in detail, but I wasn't going to make the server repeat them. Went on too long. We'd love it if the specials were simply printed out.
We'll return as we've really enjoyed dining here in the past and the menu changes frequently. Also prefer dining outside in warmer weather.