Probably the best high-end meal you’ll ever have in a mall
It’s not often we send city-dwelling restaurant seekers to the neighborhood that’s home to the second-largest mall in America, but as King of Prussia has continued to develop a quasi-downtown area in the form of the KOP Town Center, and as rumblings of a direct rail line from the city continue to reverberate, the area is getting harder and harder to ignore. At Mistral, located in the high-end part of the mall that houses the likes of Hermès and Cartier, expect locally sourced ingredients that come together in highly seasonal dishes. This is the second location of Mistral, which got its start in Princeton, and the PA location welcomes more Japanese-tinged dishes, including tuna poke and tempura squash on the most current menu.
http://www.mistralkop.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/mistral-thrillist.jpg700970Mistralhttp://www.mistralkop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Mistral-Logo-No-Signature-300x300.pngMistral2017-11-16 12:02:552017-11-16 12:02:55PHILADELPHIA'S BEST NEW RESTAURANTS OF 2017
No one could’ve ever guessed that Princeton’s farm-to-table specialists at Mistral would open a restaurant at King of Prussia mall. And no one would’ve ever guessed how good it can be.
BY JASON SHEEHAN
The only thing worse than a hotel restaurant is a mall restaurant. And the only thing worse than a mall restaurant is no restaurant at all. That’s just wisdom — a thing that’s been as true as anything for as long as it’s mattered.
But we’re in a different world now. Hotels in Philly have restaurants that are actually worth going out of your way for. Not all of them, certainly, but some. And the mall?
Well, the King of Prussia mall has been investing big in its restaurants. The sole remaining outpost of the Fat Ham is still serving there (and doing surprisingly decent work). There are two Shake Shack locations (one inside, one freestanding) and several other reasonable fast-casual options. There are still terrible restaurants and boring restaurants and restaurants that exist only to serve deep-fried food in table-breaking volume. But in the strangest possible move, the KOP mall also snagged the second location for New Jersey’s lauded farm-to-table restaurant Mistral, which is where I’m sitting on a Saturday night, eating riblets and loving them nearly as much as I’ve loved anything in as long as I can remember.
I’m serious: riblets. On the menu as “Riblets” in a half-clever lampoon of the ubiquitous Applebee’s appetizer, served on a long, narrow plate with quick-pickled shiitake mushrooms and cucumbers that are as good as anyone else’s in this age of pickling everything; with a sweet soy Asian glaze that plays to the smoke and fat of the pork peeling off the short bones, and thick scallion pancakes so addictively good that I want to fill my pockets with them and eat them all night long.
With soft rock on the sound system, wide-spaced tables and soft lights shining down on a space that’s simple, blue and spare, Mistral looks nothing like a mall restaurant. It feels nothing like a mall restaurant — is not, in fact, a mall restaurant at all, except that it happens to be attached to a mall.
Keep this in mind: The KOP Mistral is not like the Princeton Mistral. It couldn’t ever have been, and it was wise that the team didn’t try too hard to make it into a carbon copy. James Beard-nominated chef/owner Scott Anderson hired an old friend, Craig Polignano (with whom he trained back in the day at the Ryland Inn), to run the kitchen at KOP, and the two of them came up with a menu and concept that bridges the gap between fine and casual dining. So where the original is a close-to-the-land Frenchy-Asian fine-dining destination offering fried hen egg with fermented greens and smoked cod beignets with malt vinegar cream, this one has chicken wings with a sweet/hot chili and pineapple glaze, smoked salmon rillettes with potato chips, and riblets that are better than any mall food should be in a just and reasonable world. It has a bowl of ricotta tortelloni with spring peas in a mushroom broth topped with a snowfall of mushroom-scented pecorino cheese, and a salad of market greens that tastes like a dozen different things at once — arugula and fresh strawberries, pistachios, mustard greens, and a creamy smoked goat cheese hidden underneath the jungle tangle. The two restaurants share supply lines and a common DNA, but they aren’t twins. Hardly even brothers.
On one night, I eat slow-roasted pork belly over beautiful sticky rice in a puddle of hot-but-not-too-hot Szechuan pepper sauce, dressed with a handful of sea beans. On another, ramen that at first blush tastes too dark and rich and smoky if you have the 99-cent grocery-store version in your mind but then settles (after the second taste, and the third) into a complex version of Japanese noodle soup with egg and pork belly, kimchi and soy, comparable only to the weird multicultural fusions done at, say, Cheu Noodle Bar. Brace that with grilled sourdough with fresh ricotta, honey and ramp oil and maybe some tuna tartare balanced on a squid ink rice cracker, and you’ve got a meal that wouldn’t be out of place on Chestnut Street — in look, modernity or quality.
Granted, it ain’t cheap. A flat-iron steak, sliced and fanned, with roasted potatoes and mushrooms will run you $30, and the chicken thighs with grits are $25. But that, too, is in keeping with what Mistral is attempting. With its muted design, well-stocked bar, $17 steak sandwich and skate wing roulade, it becomes a restaurant that you have to choose. In the past, mall dining has been exclusively about convenience. Anyone with exhausted mall eyes, Tuesday sweatpants and a fuck-it-I’m-just-hungry attitude could wander into the Grand Luxe Cafe for some fried carbs or Maggiano’s for a bucket of spaghetti. It took no thought.
But Mistral is different. It’s a mall restaurant for a new age of malls and restaurants — edible high ground staked out at some point between fine dining and Fuddruckers, hewing not to an egalitarian notion of food for the lowest common denominator but to approachable food elevated to a level where it can pass as cuisine rather than just dinner. It’s better by an order of magnitude than anything that surrounds it and can honestly stand as a destination all on its own — a reason to go to the mall that has nothing at all to do with the mall.
3 Stars — Come from anywhere in the region
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country
Scott Anderson, the “New Jersey naturalist” chef who at various times has served his food draped over logs and bird nests, was exactly where I expected him to be when I called recently to talk about the “why” of his latest venture.
He was not leaving the keys to a Bentley or Jag with the valet in front of Neiman Marcus at King of Prussia Mall, right next to where he recently opened an airy new branch of his Princeton restaurant, Mistral.
No, Anderson was out in the woods, foraging for post-rain porcinis along Stony Brook in Central Jersey. That is to say, he was about as far as one could be – spiritually, at least – from the beeper-lighted lines of zombie diners, soulless food courts, and deep-fried buffalo chicken spring rolls that have come to typify American mall food.
“The initial dialogue in my head was probably what you thought it was,” Anderson conceded. “Am I really going to do this in a mall? What am I doing? But if the culture of the mall changes -”
If the mall culture changes, will the Forever 21 crowd actually go for the Thai-spiced funk of char-grilled squid in fish sauce over green papaya salad and a bracing glass of Gascogne gros manseng? A dewy fillet of day-boat halibut with dandelion greens? Or a warm lamb tartare over crispy grains and ramp oil topped with pink sumac tahini yogurt?
I’ve heard many variations on Anderson’s hopeful note over the years from a host of big-name chefs who believed the integrity of their great dining brands – a transformative force everywhere else in American culture – could flip a switch and finally sway the shopping masses to their tables with the gravitational pull of a half-off sale at Nordstrom. It always turns out to be much harder than anyone anticipated.
So call me a skeptic as I step aside for the group of strawberry martini ladies stumbling off the escalator from Grand Lux Cafe upstairs, for wondering whether a restaurant can be too good to survive at a mall – even King of Prussia, one of the largest luxury malls in America. Wads of disposable suburban income have not proved a reliable prelude to a sophisticated dining scene.
Not that Mistral is playing strictly to the fooderati. Not in the least. In fact, there’s a burger on the menu at Mistral, chicken wings and Caesar salad, too. They just happen to be outstanding versions of those tropes, the crunchy wings shined in pineapple-Fresno chili glaze beside a silky avocado dip; the charred half-pound burger of chuck, brisket, and flap umami-amped by a sweet and savory house-cured bacon jam.
There’s no compromise on the part of talented chef de cuisine Craig Polignano, who worked alongside Anderson at the Ryland Inn before eventually becoming the Ryland’s exec chef. This breezy and distinctly different adaptation of the Princeton original – a casual grazing concept beneath his high-end Elements tasting room – may well be an ideal template for the diverse needs of a mall community, with multiple small plates, snacks, and sandwiches for quick-bite visits to complement the option of more involved larger plates, and at relatively fair prices, with entrées hovering in the mid-$20s and most of the menu at $15 or less.
For $7, not much more than an Auntie Anne’s pretzel combo, you can get a plate of grilled sourdough with honeyed ricotta and pickled ramps; for $10, a bowl of tempura-crisped maitake fronds and asparagus tumble over charred onion-miso puree and truffled vinaigrette.
With cerulean-blue tile work wrapping the central bar in a Mediterranean vibe, Mistral’s signature windswept tree cast in a dramatic white frieze along the back wall, bare-wood table tops, a fireplace lounge, and open kitchen, there’s a certain Crate & Barrel chic to architect Ed Eimer’s design for the space that looks like it belongs. There’s even a patio, with a view of the high-rent valet lot for those with an irrepressible al fresco urge.
Mistral has a bar program to make you want to linger, with polished classics (a Boulevardier or Aviation) and signature cocktails with a smoky mezcal twist (Oaxacan Lotus; Piña la Plancha). There’s also a serious little wine list that avoids clichés, plus a certified advanced sommelier in Steven Gullo, who can wax convincingly about the minerality of a Corsican Niellucciu rosé or explain why the lagrein is ideal for the Sichuan-roasted pork belly. The outgoing service team here can elaborate further on any dish in detail.
But it is ultimately the food, including that great pork belly, sliced into tender ribbons aromatic with five spice and chili oil beneath Chinese long beans, that should earn Mistral its faithful. More of that pork belly, though roasted with slightly different seasoning, adds heft to the already bacon-rich dashi broth of Polignano’s lip-coating ramen.
Mistral’s menu draws on a wide range of international inspirations, from ricotta tortelloni in Parmesan broth with English peas to a grilled lamb meatball pita with feta that is one of the better sandwiches. Roasted chicken thighs are all-American with creamy grits. The warm lamb tartare shows North African tones of cuminy fenugreek and harissa puree. That colorful dish, with dabs of sumac-pink yogurt rising atop a mound of minced meat and crunchy grains beside a vivid green pool of ramp oil looks like an edible riverscape from one of Anderson’s foraging expeditions.
But the Asian influence here is a common thread. Green coconut curry lights up the skate, whose wing is cleverly rolled into a tube that highlights two textures, the pan-crisped exterior and the fish’s luxuriously moist inner flesh. Pork riblets get a Korean gochujang marinade and come with scallion pancakes and butter lettuce leaves that, when the meat is pulled apart, make for perfect roll-ups.
There were a couple of mild disappointments. The reheated confit meat for the Thai duck salad was unpleasantly chewy. The smoked salmon rillettes were more cream cheese than fish.
But these were blips amid a series of striking hits. A flatiron steak was perfectly juicy beside the 20-layer crisp of a potato pavé. An absolutely gorgeous tuna tartare, mounded at the edge of a plate dotted with a circus of colorful sauces – ginger lemon, yuzu crème fraîche, truffled miso vinaigrette – was even better mashed together and scooped up with black squid ink rice crackers.
For dessert, there was a moist medjool date cake à la mode and a “bowl of chocolate” with multiple cocoa temptations – mousse, brownies, Oreo crumbles, and ice cream – plus the salty bonus of house potato chips for scooping to ensure a properly decadent post-shopping splurge.
Then again, perhaps Mistral won’t need to rely on fancy junk updates to succeed. That char-grilled calamari, sliced into ribbons and tossed in a very funky, spicy, basil-lit green papaya salad that I suspected might be too challenging for King of Prussia’s palates, has turned out to be one of Mistral’s biggest hits, the chefs tell me. So, maybe I’m wrong about the unchangeable nature of mall culture to embrace real food and a genuine restaurant. I hope so. Anderson and his talented team at Mistral have bet on it.
160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia; 610-768-1630, mistralkop.com.
Can serious cooking thrive at the mall? Star Princeton chef Scott Anderson is giving it a compelling effort with this airy King of Prussia sibling to his Central Jersey original, where a flexible menu of gorgeous plates in various sizes and diverse international influences finds a delicate balance between accessibility and modern culinary craft. Great cocktails, a focused but outstanding wine list (with a genuine sommelier on site) and a grand patio add to this ambitious new project’s potential as a post-shopping oasis to dine.
Crispy maitakes; pineapple-chili wings; ricotta and ramp toast; grilled lamb tartare; tuna tartare; grilled calamari; pork riblets; halibut with dandelion greens; skate with green curry; Sichuan pork belly; flatiron steak with potato pavé; Mistral burger; lamb pita; pork belly ramen; bowl of chocolate; medjool date cake. Dinner entrees, $15-$30.
The appealing cocktail list offers both refined classics (try the Boulevardier) and creative riffs, several infused with the smoky punch of mezcal. The wine list isn’t huge but is thoughtfully selected to feature smaller producers and lesser-known grapes with more than 20 wines by the glass that match well with the food, including a crisp dry Riesling (Eins Zwei Dry), an herbal Corsican niellucciu rosé (Domaine Poli), lagrein, and monastrell. The bottle list features choices from producers in Burgundy (Jean-Chartron), Oregon (Elk Cove; Ilhahe), Chinon (Olga Raffault), Washington (DeLille), and Piedmont (La Spinetta).
A very reasonable 82 decibels. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
IF YOU GO
Entire menu available Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, until 10 p.m.; Sunday, 3:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
All major cards.
Free parking lot, with $10 valet available in front of Nieman Marcus.
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This past March, Mistral King of Prussia joined the expanding enclave of upscale, but approachable dining options within the mall. Ushering in a more independent (privately owned) chef-driven philosophy (no corporate menu mandates), Mistral bathes itself in a well-lit, mid-century modern-inspired motif that combines clean whites, blond woods and bold geometrics with scattered greenery among mint and ocean blue patterns.
Architecturally nudged underneath Grand Lux Cafe—between Lord and Taylor and Neiman Marcus—James Beard semifinalist and executive chef/co-owner Scott Anderson has designated chef de cuisine Craig Polignano to orchestrate the kitchen at the new location. The innovative menu is local, short, sweet and sustainable with snacks ($7–$12), small bites ($10–$23), larger bites ($25–$30) and a bevy of salads and sandwiches ($15–$17).
But it’s the 20-seat (thank you for the soft seating!) rectangular bar that commands center stage in the middle of the open space, with a 360-degree view that provides us with enough sensory stimulation—including a view into the bustling kitchen—and a killer cocktail list that is our pick for the hippest and most original happy hour (or any hour, actually) at one of the largest shopping meccas in the country.
We sat down with Steven Gullo, advanced sommelier and beverage director (who splits his time between this location and the original Mistral in Princeton, New Jersey), and asked him to highlight some of the most popular signature cocktails (and a brew, too!) that are must-sips when you visit.
Pina la Plancha has a perfect kick of jalapeno to tackle the sweetness of grilled pineapple, agave nectar and a spritz of fresh lime in this Del Maguey Vida Mezcal-based, light-colored concoction. Steven recommends pairing the drink, which is accented with a slice of lime and a pineapple leaf, with the sweet and bitey wings dish on Mistral’s snacks menu.
The Kubrick-inspired beverage The Clockwork Orange gets us to pucker up a bit with its Vin d’Orange Citrus Vermouth and orange bitters that mix well with tart cucumber-lemongrass gin and tickle-your-nose club soda. Garnished with orange peel and a cucumber, it’s the perfect partner to the small-bite grilled calamari to enhance the intensity of this textured dish.
Sip your way into the Devil’s Garden, with its vivid color and layered taste that make us want to be just a tiny bit evil. Its deep ruby blend of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Banyuls, raspberry, agave and rhubarb bitters seems to slip down the throat with ease. Pairing this cocktail with the restaurant’s slow-roasted pork belly is a truly devilish experience.
We’re all about collaborations, and Mistral doesn’t disappoint with a 5.1% ABV pilsner on tap that’s been rebranded specifically for the restaurant by River Horse Brewing Co. in Ewing, New Jersey. The Brewers Reserve Pilsner with German hops and a clean touch of citrus is just waiting to be poured and paired with the gooey/crispy Halloumi cheese sandwich.
A comprehensive list of classic cocktails, including Champs-Élysées, Cable Car and a hard-to-find Aviation are on our list of must-haves. Eight rotating taps poured stouts, lagers and a favorite Sly Fox saison during our visit. A stimulating batch of spirits includes top-notch bourbons, scotches (single malt and blended) and just about everything in between.
Having an advanced sommelier behind the bar makes the wine list here undoubtedly tasteworthy, with Steven’s top picks for wines that he claims are hard to find but so worth the sip:
The Nielluccio Rose, Domaine Poli, Corsica, 2016 ($11/glass), a rosé made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, is clean-tasting with mineral and red cherry notes.
Old-world Roussanne/Grenache Blanc Château Mas Neuf, Rhône Valley, 2015 ($12/glass) brings along full-body and round texture with notes of dried apricot and peach preserves. Developed along the French coast and famous for the kiss of the Mistral Wind (hence the name of the restaurant).
Grillo, Villa Pozzi, Sicily, 2015 ($12/glass) tastes like a glass of summertime with this indigenous grape from Sicily. The similarity to Pinot Grigio makes this one popular and easy to drink.
Pinot Noir, Illahe Estate, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2015 ($17/glass) is organically farmed and notes include ripe red fruits and a bite of cinnamon.
We were so in in awe of Steven’s expertise that we asked him to share the most important ingredients every professional mixologist must have in his or her bag of tricks to take cocktails to the ultimate level. His recommendations?
Good (read: expensive) bitters. Don’t skimp on the quality of this essential additive.
Housemade fresh infusions are crucial to signature cocktails. Incorporate fruits, peppers and fresh herbs to add real depth to the beverage.
“Local spirits are a great addition to today’s cocktails,” according to Steven. “We mix it up with Bluebird Distilling in Phoenixville as well as with the Brandywine Branch of small-batch Revivalist gin.”
Using jiggers to measure spirits is important when creating authentic cocktail recipes. Measuring precise ingredients will allow the cocktail to be more enjoyable.
As with any recipe, we believe the presentation must have some of that “wow factor” to make it memorable. Steven’s advice is to “use ingredients in the garnish presentation to not only tie the cocktail together, but to give the guest a hint of the surprise in the glass.” Colors and shapes must be fresh-looking (no dried-up limes, please), eye-catching and also easy to navigate for the sipper.
Visit this newest hit in the King of Prussia Mall and take advantage of the new crafted happy hour menu, before or after shopping, and let us know what you think.
Find Mistral at 160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, phone: (610) 768-1630.
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The creative newcomer elevates mall dining | BY KEN ALAN
Unlike the more than 20 full-service restaurants in and around the King of Prussia Mall, one eatery is defying convention by defying categorization. Don’t expect its beguiling name to offer any sort of sweeping explanation, either. All diners really need to know about Mistral is this: It serves a daily menu showcasing the constructs of a James Beard-nominated chef’s seasonally changing “interpretive-American” menu, seven days a week, for lunch and dinner. READ MORE
http://www.mistralkop.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Mistralkop-mainline-article.jpeg533800Mistralhttp://www.mistralkop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Mistral-Logo-No-Signature-300x300.pngMistral2017-05-25 13:22:432017-05-25 13:22:43Mistral Takes King of Prussia Dining to a New Level
Two words: bacon jam. The chefs at Mistral polish off the generously portioned Mistral burger with the housemade bacon jam, Vermont cheddar cheese, and aïoli, plus a heaping serving of the hand-cut fries on the side”
http://www.mistralkop.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/0-Burgers-You-Need-to-Try-in-Philly.jpg9061938Mistralhttp://www.mistralkop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Mistral-Logo-No-Signature-300x300.pngMistral2017-05-18 12:53:322017-05-18 12:53:32Zagat: 10 Burgers You Need to Try in Philly
“The Philly restaurant scene continues to move in new directions. So whether you’re hungry for fresh falafel, vegan milkshakes or Hawaiian and Venezuelan street food, you’ll find it at one of these hot spots.”
Following the success of the New Jersey location, Scott Anderson brings his seasonal New American menus to the King of Prussia Mall with this stylish outfit serving imaginative shareable plates and globally inspired snacks alongside cocktails and a substantial wine list. Natural woods and blue tiles accent the modern setting, which also has a lounge with a fireplace.
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Whether you’re celebrating the end of a long work day, or treating yourself to a much-deserved drink, we give you the best spots for luxe happy hours around the city.
Just because you work in the suburbs doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out on happy hours. Known for their chef-driven menus and upscale atmosphere, Mistral offers an elevated happy hour on Mondays from 5 to 8 pm, and Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4 to 7 pm at their beautiful King of Prussia location. Their exclusively priced menu includes signature libations like the Soulless cocktail and their homemade Pilsner. In the meantime, fill up on delicious snacks like English pea hummus, smoked salmon rillettes, and grilled sourdough. 160 N. Gulph Road, King of Prussia, 610-768-1630
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Mistral KOP was included in a travel article in the Philadelphia Sunday Sun mentioning the restaurant’s Michelin-quality chef team, seasonal dishes, and a few “must-try” menu items. See full article here.
By Renée S. Gordon
In March, local food activist James Beard and acclaimed Chef Scott Anderson opened a second location of his Mistral Restaurant in King of Prussia. The original Mistral, based in Princeton, New Jersey,was on New Jersey Magazine’s 25 Best Restaurants list in both 2015 and 2016.
Mistral King of Prussia’s Michelin-quality chefs offer a different menu from that of Mistral Princeton, but it similarly provides cuisine that is filled with inspired seasonally and locally-sourced American dishes with an international twist. The 3,700-sq. ft. venue seats 111 guests, with outdoor seating available for 48 additional diners. The 18-seat bar is the ideal spot to avail yourself of the extensive bar menu with wine, spirits, beer and unique craft cocktails. Every menu item is wonderful, but you must try the grilled calamari, pork riblets, wings and corned beef sausage. Reservations can be made online. (www.mistralkop.com and @MistralPrinceton)
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