Continuing my Dine Out journey this year, we ventured out to Broadway to try Mistral French Bistro. The restaurant has been around since 2005, which is considerably long for Vancouver’s dining scene. Even though it’s on Broadway, it’s some ways out in the west end of Kitsilano, fairly close to the residential area and located in the same block as Thomas Haas.
Everyone has different preferences, so even during Dine Out time it’s difficult to find a menu with everything appealing to you. Mistral’s menu this year was one of the few exceptions, that I seemed to like everything on it. With that, I went with my parents so the three of us combined could taste everything on the menu.
As a whole, Mistral’s menu is predictable; there is nothing fancy or innovative. However, I realized its entrees were drawn from its regular menu, so the quality of the dishes during Dine Out would be a fairly accurate indicator of its food quality outside of this period.
For appetizers, I must point out the size of the Provencal Tomato Soup. The bowl was big and deep, thinking there might be 2 cups of soup! It was tangy and creamy, and I like the touch of pistou foam but it was more like creme fraiche than foam. But boy, it was a lot of liquid to take as the first course. I only finished half of the soup.
I recently attended a presentation on food trends, and one of the speakers spoke about the collision of worlds of flavours, how chefs these days combine flavour profiles of various cuisine to create their own concoction. The Albacore Tuna would be an example to this trend. It’s interesting to see soy sauce and sesame seeds play a part in French cuisine. The flavour was okay but the dish didn’t really say French to me. I wouldn’t call it marinated tuna, however, since it was more like a drizzle of soy sauce and black pepper on raw, sesame-crusted tuna. Probably a good thing though, or else it would kill the fish (again) and your palate. I would’ve preferred if they serve it with a green salad over sticks of celery.
Smoked Salmon was a standard affair. Slices of smoked sockeye salmon served with capers, sour cream and butter lettuce salad. The mozzarella added extra creamy texture while the beets brought some natural sweetness to the dish.
Years ago we went to a French restaurant for duck confit, and boy it was so salty that it’s barely edible. Since then, there’s always this fear in the back of my mind that I might get another heavy-loaded, sodium-filled duck confit. The Duck Leg Confit here was decent. It’s only lightly salted with a nice crispy skin. The Gratin Dauphinois was very good. It’s paper-thin potatoes stacked and baked in a creamy sauce. It’s rich but, surprisingly, helped balance the saltiness in the duck.
The Grilled Steak was a bit boring to me. Dad ordered it medium rare, but it came out more like medium. It’s literally just a piece of grilled meat with a simple sauce. And it wasn’t top notch beef with a good distribution of fat, thus it was a bit dry at parts. The fries were crispy, crunch outside and soft inside, and I kept on munching on them. While it’s not bad, it’s probably my least favourite entree.
The third entree is my own, Daube de Boeuf. This dish seems to be only available during its regular lunch service. The beef cheeks were super tender and moist, and had absorbed all the flavours from the red wine jus. The fresh spaghetti was only so-so to me. It’s doughy and it’s not really giving me the al dante texture. It tasted like they’ve added too much flour to the dough. It also tasted like the Chinese-style noodle you find in HK’s famous cart noodle (車仔麵). It would’ve been a very successful dish if the pasta were better.
Dessert-wise, Fresh Pineapple in Mint Sirop may seem like an afterthought, a thrown-on to make up the 3rd dessert option, but fresh fruit salad with raspberry sorbet is a regular item on its menu. I only tried the sorbet, and it had a creamy texture, which is unusual for sorbets. I did enjoy the tartness of raspberry, very refreshing.
As you can tell from the picture, the Mistral Dark Chocolate Mousse had bubbles inside, which made it light and fluffy, yet creamy and decadent. It’s rather one-note, though, with only mousse and whipped cream on the plate. Adding some acidity (e.g. a sauce) would help balance it out.
On the other hand, the Giant Coffee Macaron was a well-balanced dessert. It has the crunch from the macaron and sprinkled nuts, creaminess from whipped cream and coffee ice cream, and tartness/sweetness from the blueberry coulis. The macaron was like the size of my face! It had this fragrant, coffee smell, and crunchy/gooey texture that a macaron should have. It would’ve gone well with a cup of espresso or dark roast, but I opted out of another dose of caffeine at 8pm.
We arrived early for our dinner reservation, so, as expected, our table was not ready. The host was being attentive, thus periodically giving us update on the status of our table. Dad found it excessive, and while I agree, I understood his intention and thankfully we didn’t have to wait long or else it would drive us crazy haha!
When we went to Black + Blue, we were slightly annoyed by the greeter who spoke Cantonese with us right at the door. We had a similar experience here. When we placed the order with whom I believe is owner Minna, we were joking about the French pronunciation, that we wouldn’t even try ordering it in French to make a fool of ourselves. She immediately made fun of herself, telling us that she’s been trying to learn yet couldn’t get a good grasp of saying “Gung Hay Fat Choy” properly. Can you tell how this exchange was different from the Black + Blue one? It took place with the appropriate context and at the right time.
A very strange observation we made throughout our dinner – that they don’t seem to change the table clothes!! We saw one of the servers simply wipe the table cloth with used napkins from previous diners then continued with table setting. Then, at another table we saw the same server flip the table cloth to the other side before setting the table for the next group of customers. I debated whether I should call them out there, but whao, we were in shock! It was a busy Friday evening, so I could see that happen if the table cloth were still clean, but we clearly saw some stains on the table cloth. Actually no, in any case, I don’t think it’s acceptable. Is this normal in fine dining in France?
In terms of food, Mistral offers decent food quality, but predictable menu items with minimal plating and presentation. The table cloth part doesn’t sit well with me but I would love to hear others’ thoughts about this.
Mistral French Bistro
2585 West Broadway, Vancouver