223 Columbus Ave, Boston
Phone number: 617-867-9300
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Monday – Thursday: 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 5:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Dine Out Boston, formerly Restaurant Week, took place this year on March 16 – 21 and 23 – 28. Even though the second half of the citywide event coincided with spring break, the two-week celebration is a great chance for students to try out some high-end restaurants at slightly more affordable prices.
After perusing the slew of menus on the Dine Out Boston website, I decided to check out Mistral, a French/New American restaurant located in the Back Bay. The restaurant is a short walk from the Prudential Center and has a relatively unimpressive and easy-to-miss façade. When I walked in, I immediately noticed the high ceilings and the beige and lime green décor. There is also a lounge area near the entrance, presumably for larger groups that the small bar cannot accommodate. Overall, the restaurant felt laid-back and modern.
Normally, restaurants restrict their Dine Out Boston menus to a three-course meal and offer two to three choices for each course. To my surprise, my waiter informed me that the chef had prepared additional choices for the first two courses. Thus, instead of choosing among Caesar salad, beef sirloin carpaccio, and mushroom bisque, I ended up ordering salmon tartare with guacamole for my appetizer. The dish was shaped like a crab cake, with salmon on top and guacamole on the bottom. I was very impressed with the appetizer. The fresh salmon was cut into perfectly sized bits, and the strong flavor of the guacamole complemented the fish well. Moreover, the portion was large. At some high-end restaurants, this salmon tartare could have been the entrée.
Likewise, I passed on the listed choices for my entrée, which included chicken breast, sirloin, salmon, and braised pork, and chose the half roasted duck with mushroom risotto instead. Once again, the portion was surprisingly huge. I could not remember the last time I had eaten half a duck by myself. The skin was golden and the meat was very tender. Furthermore, the risotto and kumquat were welcome sides. Although I found the duck delicious, my favorite part of the entrée was the thick, hearty sauce that worked perfectly with both the duck and the risotto.
By the time desserts came, I was honestly full. Still, I wanted to try the profiteroles with milk chocolate ice cream. As it turned out, the outside of the profiteroles was slightly salty, while the ice cream inside was very rich and sweet. I think I would have preferred smaller profiteroles with dark chocolate ice cream.
At the end of the day, I left Mistral very satisfied with both the quality and the quantity of the food. It is sometimes the case that expensive restaurants offer such small portions that the prices are hardly justified. This is not the case for Mistral. The most impressive part of the meal was that I never wanted to stop despite the large portions. Good restaurants make dishes that bring out different flavors and surprises with each bite, and I think Mistral definitely accomplished this.
All in all, this dinner at Mistral was my favorite Dine Out Boston experience so far, and I recommend everyone to give it a try. Prices are normally steep, but Mistral might very well participate in future Dine Out Boston events. If so, be sure to make a reservation early.