Progress Chic Supper in the Heart of Seattle
5.22.12. A late Spring dinner at Seattle's Mistral Kitchen was recently the perfect last minute birthday event for me and a few friends. Being the science, design, and culture geek that I am, I had been looking for an excuse to visit Mistral Kitchen for a long time so this was a win-win on several levels. I had heard about Mistral Kitchen and the creative talent of Chef/Owner William Belickis from many friends over a long period of time so it was finally time to indulge. I was with friends that also appreciate great innovative dining so we all had high expectations...I'm pleased to say, our expectations were exceeded many times over. One of the common themes across our experience was attention to detail, from the butter dishes and cocktails all the way through to the rounds of appetizers and entrees. Like many chefs these days, Mistral Kitchen features lots of local, sustainable, and organic foods but they also have some gems that come from not so close to home.
I always begin my restaurant reviews with a few words on the website since this is where I, and most restaurant goers, have the first interactions with the venue. From the beginning you get a clear sense that Mistral Kitchen is all about incredible and creative food, experiencing the best life has to offer with good friends, and a modern but inviting atmosphere. The deep brown palette combined with artistic images of the food and interior are practically a first course on their own and definitely reflect the real life experience awaiting you at the restaurant. The details of Mistral Kitchen are all up front and center from location and contact info to menus and more info on the restaurant and Chef Belickis.
Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, steel and concrete combine with crisp white walls and unique light fixtures in an effort to "highlight the transformation of raw ingredients into the sophisticated compositions which appear on diner’s plates." The effort succeeded because even though these elements could come across ultra-modern and cold, they somehow do mix to create a space reminiscent of European restaurants that turn 300 year-old buildings into stunning contemporary masterpieces. Mistral Kitchen offers both big open spaces for large parties and smaller intimate areas for more cozy meals. Attention to detail is apparent everywhere throughout the interior from the fresh fruit baskets in the entry to the sleek placemats on the table. One feature that stands out is the wood oven that is as much sculpture as it is functional oven (pictured left). There is also a Tandoor oven and a kitchen focused solely on molecular gastronomy.
The attention to detail in the food arena started immediately with the bread and butter that quickly landed on our table. Delicious for sure but the butter presentation, a simple slice on the diagonal stood on end, set the stage for what was to be an incredible dining experience.
I started the meal with the pork terrine (below). Petite but packed with flavor...a perfect starter.
Next up was another starter, a special creation by Chef Belickis to satisfy the gastro geek in me. Fantastic asparagus with a sous-vide egg.
Moving on to entrees I began with the roasted lamb. Every element of the dish offered incredible textures and flavors. I could have had two more plates of this dish.
And finally, I ended the meal with the Maine sea scollops. The order comes with one scallop so I doubled up....I can't help myself, I love, Love, LOVE scallops so order them whenever they are available. Chef Belickis' scallops were the best I've had yet. Once again, the attention to detail in the scallops themselves, with other elements in the dish, aromas, everything was really amazing.
I was really impressed with the service we received at Mistral Kitchen. The waiter was incredibly knowledgable about the cocktails on the menu, as well as the pantheon of options off the menu. We were attended to often by multiple staff and never found ourselves wanting for anything. Even more impressive was that Chef Belickis made several stops to our table, and other tables, throughout the evening.
Prices at any fine dining experience can often be defined by a couple extra dollar signs in online sites and reviews. I generally ask myself was the food worth what I paid. In the case of Mistral Kitchen, that was definitely the case. Cocktails did seem to be at the high end of the scale but once again, they were quite worth the $12 price as they were both creative and tasty.
The only opportunity that I can think of arises from the fact that I did go to Mistral Kitchen eager to explore dishes with lots of molecular gastronomy bells and whistles. Though Chef Belickis did come up with several plates on the fly, it would be wonderful if they have at least one or two molecular gastronomy on the menu at all times so that the casual diner can explore and experiment with the Chef Belickis' talents in this arena. That said, if I didn't know about these talents beforehand, I would have been even more pleased with what I did experience.