Yay for Seattle Restaurant Week! From April 18-29 (apparently “Seattle Restaurant 10 Days” didn’t have quite the same ring), Sundays through Thursdays, you have the chance to pay $25 for three courses (or $15 for lunch at some) at 100+ restaurants around the area. It’s an excellent excuse to get out and try one of the restaurants you’ve been dying to check out, and I applaud all of those that committed to participating.
The only catch -- and I’ve thought this about Dine Around Seattle and similar dining promotions as well -- is that they create an unnatural construct for restaurants and patrons alike. The former are (mostly) held to a set menu for the length of the promo which may be a challenge to design depending on their usual price point and likely an increased number of patrons, and the latter expect that the meal they have is representative of the restaurant even though all of these other issues are at play. It makes me cringe a little bit thinking of all of these potential new dining patrons flocking to restaurants they might fall in love with under normal circumstances, but that might not show well under these sorts of “promotional” conditions.
With all of this in mind I embarked on my first reservation for Seattle Restaurant Week, Tuesday lunch at Mistral Kitchen. The new venture from star chef William Belickis, the former chef/owner of Belltown’s Mistral, is slightly more accessible than its especially upscale predecessor but I suspect is not the venue for everyone. It’s on the first floor of a fantastic wedge of a building, with long lines of windows on two sides, one of them fronting Westlake Ave. The rough hewn tabletops add warmth to the otherwise industrial vibe of the interior, with its concrete floors, abundance of heavy metals and modern furnishings and fixtures. The main dining room and bar area are adjacent to a much warmer, cushier small dining room, the “chef’s table” area where William Belickis displays his considerable talents as well as a couple of little nooks perfect for small groups of cocktails-sippers.
We started with a nicely peppery salad of arugula, fennel, pecorino, lemon and olive oil. From there we both chose for the main course the roasted pork chop with farro, glazed asparagus and saba. The farro was a touch firm for my taste, but the pork chop was nicely done, likely a challenge when churning out so many portions for hungry and harried lunchtime crowds.
The dessert was this sweet little milk chocolate coriander ice cream sandwich with a dollop of apricot compote. The coriander was entirely undetectable until I had a bite of ice cream sans sandwich and concentrated really really hard, but quite complementary to the meal all the same.
Although I love that Seattle Restaurant Week brought me to Mistral, which I might not have otherwise tried, I can’t help but think that I didn’t have the real Mistral experience. Maybe dinner would be different, or maybe this is designed to whet my appetite for more. I’m not entirely convinced, though, when there are so many other good restaurants to sample. Onward with SRW…