After arriving earlier that day in Seattle, meeting up with Amy, and attending the Cider Summit and visiting the Great Wheel and killing some time on Fremont, it was finally time for our special delicious date. All day we had been carefully trying to hold ourselves back from eating (which we wanted to do everywhere, to a point where we didn't quite know what to do with ourselves if we couldn't eat as part of the activity) to save ourselves for this meal experience, a fine dining meal that lasted from 7 to almost 10:30 pm.
We were seated in the white tablecloth portion of the restaurant, an area (along with the Jewel Box dining area) that is located from the hostess stand to the left, past the pizza oven. The pizza oven anchors the far edge of the main open kitchen, which is part of the elongated rectangle space of Mistral Kitchen, and you see upon entry. There are even seats at counters overlooking this kitchen bar, Meanwhile the drinking bar is located further in, basically at the heart of the restaurant, with the countertop blending in from stools that overlook that kitchen to stools that overlook the work of the mixologist. This long bar ends right before stairs leading up (just 6 steps or so) leading to a slightly elevated level of small lounge areas and the restrooms.
Meanwhile, in our area, there is also an open kitchen, but one that fits one chef (we were introduced to chef Heidi) who works in the large square around her, preparing the meal only for this section with the exception of dessert. All the tables here can watch her work, though based on the way the seating was placed, not everyone has a view. To actually see the detail on the pans on the stove rather than her plating and prep work on the counter top that faces outward, you have to basically approach the station… or like I did, keep leering up to peer and think about running away with some of the ingredients piled all prepped in clear plastic containers (especially with the cheese wedge…).
Instead, the prime area to the kitchen station is an open area where there are coffee and expresso machines that would be approached by the staff to use once in a while, although they also take up window space that is almost directly across and to the side of one of the 3 sides. At our booth, we were actually closest to the kitchen, since we were directly located aside that third side (with the last side being the wall), as you can sort of see here. In retrospect, I can't believe even though I thought to take food photos, I did not take any of us, you know, people, with our food or with the chef kitchen area. I am not sure what that says about my idea of what to capture visually for memory. Well, she didn't either- yet we thought of doing so earlier in the day at the Great Wheel. Hmm. Food is so distracting.
We started out with saffron infused buttered popcorn and champagne, and then an amuse bouche of a tomato pepper garlic with olive oil gazpacho (perhaps a little too much garlic as it burned slightly). The waiter had shown us a list of fresh ingredients they had on hand for the kitchen that evening and inquired about any love or hate preferences, as well as offered an option for an additional starting cocktail though he warned us there was already a lot of alcohol with the pairings to come. We decided to pass on opening with a cocktail to keep our palate fresh, as this was just the prologue.
Then, our first course of the 9, which started out by the waiter putting down a very cool chopstick holders in the form of a silver poke chopstick rice. And then, we were presented with a beautiful big eye tuna with grapefruit, avocado, microgreens, thinly sliced beet. I would have preferred the fish not sitting on the olive oil so I could enjoy the taste of the beautiful fish without muddying it with the olive oil. Since eating the fish at Sushi Dai by Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan, I've found myself more of a purist with raw fish now. Paired with a pinot gris.
Second course was I believe both of our favorite for the night, this gorgeous and large Maine Diver Scallop. The scallop was seared perfectly and tasted wonderfully smooth and soft and silky yet just fleshy enough, with forkfuls of the last of juicy summer tomatoes and basil and pesto and a bit of paprika parceled out between to cleanse the palate before more of that gentle scallop… That scallop felt as good in your mouth as it does to sniff and kiss a freshly bathed cute baby's cheek as he/she giggles- you just want to keep doing it. I could and would eat a whole plate of just those scallops for any meal. The Prager gruner veltliner was the pairing with this, one that we both immediately tried to commit to memory (or I tapped into a note on my phone) so we could seek this wine out again.
Third course continued our array of seafood with Alaskan Halibut with potatoes in both crispy and softer form atop green beans that I could not help but admire the knife skills it took to prep, I think this was paired with a Rose. This buttery dish was good, but after the flavor pop from the scallop with the pesto, it seemed paler in comparison with its lack of bursts of flavor thanks to its more quiet approach.
Fourth course, since we opted out of the Hudson Valley Foie Gras (earlier when asked about our preferences while overlooking their ingredients list), chef Heidi replaced it with this thick pork belly with roasted figs and caramelized onion to still provide decadant richness before the "break" that we had been told about. Being from Portland, of course we love love pork.
One of the "courses" was a tableside cocktail prepared by the bar manager Matt Bailey, this one was violet and smoke with lots of basil essential oils infused. This is a strong sipper… I wish in retrospect that we had asked for a cocktail that was more brighter, like a plate cleanser after the richness of the pork belly. It was hard to fit this into the meal arc.
We relaxed for a while, sipping the cocktail, until the waiter came over (chef Heidi was just waiting in the kitchen) asking if we were ready to proceed. And so we continued to course 6, my second favorite of the dinner, the Anderson Ranch lamb atop farro and with scattering of Amaranth, paired with an amazing 1996 Bordeaux which made me wish we had received more reds during our meal- something to consider to mention and ask, even if you are open minded about trying anything the kitchen wants to prepare. Meanwhile, the seasoning and smokiness of the sear of the lamb was perfect, producing a crispy edge to each slice that was echoed in the firmness of the farro and tiny amaranth, all serving to highlight the soft strips of lamb sirloin.
Finally, the cheese course, the last course Heidi prepared for us, and then shortly after the kitchen station here was replaced by one of the other prep chefs in the main kitchen, apparently preparing fried rice for everyone to eat. It was Pierre Robert cheese, a triple creme that is like butter. This is where the port was poured and was supposed to carry us through the dessert courses, but the port was very sweet and I wished we had something lighter like a white dessert wine. I do like ports, but typically with tiramisu or chocolate.
This same port just didn't seem to complement or contrast the next course with a muffin of banana nut with semi freddo, more roasted caramelized fig, and a very tart sorbetto over the crunchy crushed walnut. At this point we were really getting full- although Amy mustered the fortitude to do this dish justice and polish it clean. The finale was a little parfait of a mousse, almond crumble, and then a pearl… something. Hey, this was many glasses of wine (and that cocktail) in. Neither of us were a fan of the orange on top, which tasted somewhat mushy and sour that reminded me of ferment. Except for the fruit on top, this was a wonderful end that felt light but was a good texture to end with.
<3 <3 Thank you again Amy for such a wonderful experience <3 <3