Le Mistral is owned by two brothers, Chef David Denis and General Manager Sylvain Denis. David Denis came to Houston in 1995, and few years later, the brothers opened up Le Mistral. The Denis Brothers are from the Provencal Region of France, so the menu reflects that, but it also represents all French Regions.
The restaurant itself is light and open with great visual complexities. High ceilings, rounded walls, funky light fixtures. Different patterns and textures: stone wall with suede chairs. Soft butter colors contrasting with dark wood grain wall.
Main Dining Room - Le Mistral
The Chef started us with his Pork Rillette amuse-bouche, a preparation of meat, similar to pate and traditionally made with pork. The Rillette was on top of a crispy crouton with a baby pickle slice topping off the tasty bite. The contrasting textures were excellent -- soft rillette with crusty crouton and a crunchy, salty pop of pickle. An excellent way to start!
Pork Rillette Amuse-Bouche
Okay, so down to business, what did we order and how was it? Well, our group ordered several items. I'll hit high points.
A favorite starter was the Salade de Bucheron -- baby spinach, warm goat cheese, caramelized pecans, and pear vinaigrette ($12). The greens were fresh and contrasted well with the warm, creamy goat cheese. The dressing was light, but held up well to the substantial cheese. The pecans added some crunchy contrast to the soft salad. Excellent starter. And, check out that slab of goat cheese. Ahhhhhh....heavenly!
Salade de Bucheron
A favorite entree was the Duo de Canard Confit et Roti ($32). This dish was a duck duo: one deboned leg confit and one caramelized breast served with squash risotto, green asparagus fricassee, and grand marnier orange sauce. The duck was moist and tender and paired well with the light orange sauce. However, the risotto was dry -- not creamy at all. And, risotto HAS to be creamy.
Duo de Canard Confit et Roti
I'll touch more on other appetizers and entrees later in the post, if you are interested in more. Unfortunately, our reviews are pretty mixed. Some dishes were good (yes, good, not great, not amazing, but good). Others were disappointing. But before that, let me talk about....Dessert!
If souffle is on the menu, its a given I will order it. Love me some souffle! Seriously, a light, airy souffle with some killer sauce makes my heart pound...fast and furious. Sadly, this souffle didn't do it for me. The souffle flavor was Bailey's, which sounded fabulous, but I had wished for a little more Bailey's zest. However, the sauce was not a deal breaker as much as the pasty, which I thought was too dense and too eggy. ($11).
I had...and yes, "I had," to order the Fondant au Chocolat with Kahlua cafe-infused shake ($9). Chocolate Fondant makes my heart flutter almost as much as souffle. This dessert dish was excellent. The chocolate fondant (aka "chocolate lava or molten cake" in American speak) was dense and chewy, yet soft and light at the same time. It had a very pleasant chocolaty sauce, not quite fudgy, but not thin and runny. Very nice. The chocolate was a magnificent contrast with the tart raspberry. And, on the side, a shot glass of vanilla ice cream layered with Kahlua. Hello My Love!
Fondant au Chocolat
Other tasting notes: French Onion Soup: no zing. Poulet Fermier Roti au jus (Airline chicken breast with mashed potatoes): the chicken was way dry and so were the mashed potatoes! Ugh. However, the Filet Mignon Poele was tender with a savory flavor. This steak dish also had mashed potatoes, but these were creamy and buttery. Where is the consistency? Hello? The Escargot were gritty, chewy, and not garlic-y enough. Humpf. New York Steak au Poivre, though, had excellent Au Poivre. Great, great, delicious pepper coating and the asparagus tempura beignets, on the side, were DIVINE. Yes, the asparagus were a high point: tender asparagus with a delicious batter. These puppies melted in my mouth. Yummy! Yummy! The Foie Gras was excellent. Cooked properly with a nice combination of flavors between the pears, golden raisins and port wine reduction.
I could go on, but this post is long enough. My closing thoughts on Le Mistral: Not consistent. Some dishes were delightful, others disappointing. The wine selection is inconsistent, as well, in that their wine list does not necessarily match what is in their inventory. Service was good and the atmosphere was pleasant. But for all my high expectations, I think I was a little disappointed. And, I'm really disappointed that I was disappointed. I want to be blown away by Le Mistral.
Le Mistral Restaurant
1400 Eldridge Parkway
Houston, Texas 77077