Housemade Bucatini with Soft Shell Crab

Housemade Bucatini with Soft Shell Crab

Whoosh! The strong wind that freshen the air in the south of France has blown into Princeton. Stephen Distler and Scott Anderson, who also own elements in Princeton, have now opened Mistral, a more casual BYO incarnation of the original fine dining location. (Mistral Chef de Cuisine is Ben Nerenhausen, late of  The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, which has three Michelin stars and a recent Beard Award win.)

Mistral is fine, too, but with a focus on small plates which diners can conjure into a snack or a  meal, depending on their inclination. Since Mistral is open continuously from 11:00am daily, it’s easy to just stop by whenever the mood hits. And I think it will hit frequently!

I sampled several dishes at a preview service I attended with a friend, where the staff and kitchen basically practiced on us. What fun! As fast as the kitchen could get them out we tore through the Onsen egg with fregola, fried sunchoke, Korean short rib (o.m.g.), sweetbread canneloni, grilled octopus (o.m.g. again!), housemade bucatini with soft shell crab and a couple of bracingly sour thai lemonades.

Sweetbread Cannelloni

Sweetbread Cannelloni

For dessert we shared the hay-scented panna cotta you see below, and an Andes mint-like slab of chocolate with mint and cucumber. So many delightful tastes on offer here, how will you choose?

Hay & Vanilla Panna Cotta

Hay & Vanilla Panna Cotta

(I attacked the short rib and octopus so quickly, I only got photos of the dregs – and those photos were terrible. Also, apologies for the overall poor quality; I just ordered a very compact camera that I hope will take good photos in low light with no flash to distract nearby tables!)

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