Many San Diego restaurants offer coastal views, but none quite compare to the views offered by the LOEWS Resort’s hidden gem, Mistral. The restaurant’s mantra is “French Vision, Ocean Views”–the quality service and secluded location allude to an accomplished dining experience that leaves customers relaxed, satisfied, and ready to come back for another chance to glimpse at San Diego’s unforgettable Downtown skyline.
Mistral, open exclusively for Dinner, is located on the second floor in the main lobby of Loews, where patrons walk up a white, grand double staircase to enter the restaurant. The restaurant’s decor has an understated sophistication with floor-to-ceiling windows spanning the entirety of the dining room. An elegant blend of neutral tones like beige and Robin’s Egg Blue bathe the walls and a selection of tables draped with gold tablecloths are located to ensure that each individual has a view alongside one of the windows.
As my guest and I arrive at the hostess stand we receive a friendly greeting from the Manager, Scott, who seats us at a window table in the center of the restaurant. We take in the sunset view of the Coronado Bridge and Downtown Skyline as we are each presented with a Dinner Menu, Cocktail Menu, and Wine List to peruse. Looking over the extensive and eclectic Dinner Menu, I note the variety of pastas, risottos, seafood, and meat dishes including the Summer Risotto with braised baby vegetables and fresh summer truffle or the Steamed Scottish Salmon with yellow corn, vanilla risotto, and lemon verbena cappuccino.
Offering a selection of red, white, and sparkling wines, the wine list includes vintages from California and Western Europe like the Talbott Vineyards Chardonnay and the Byron Pinot Noir; these are classic alternatives to Mistral’s quirky cocktails. The Cocktails currently available have a prohibition-era theme–the Bee’s Knees is made with vodka, lemon juice, and lavender honey. I decide to try The Colony; a smooth blend of gin, grapefruit juice, and geranium that is slightly sweet and warming to the palate. My guest tries the Mary Pickford, which includes a fruity blend of rum, pineapple, and hibiscus.
Before ordering, we are greeted by Dave, the Food and Beverage Manager, and Chef de Cuisine Patrick Ponsaty. Chef Ponsaty sits down with us for a few minutes to go over the menu, explaining that he values using the freshest ingredients available. Chef Ponsaty is a strong proponent of farm-to-table dining. A fifth-generation chef born and raised in France, he has a clear vision: to introduce San Diegans to traditional French farm-to-table cuisine with a Mediterranean twist. Chef Ponsaty is genuine, humble, and excited to choose our dishes for the evening; taking us on a culinary tour that evokes the taste buds with truly fresh ingredients and bold flavors. After he leaves we are served an Amuse Bouche, Caufllower Mousse with Smoked Salmon-- a creamy yet refreshing start to our meal.
Our first course for the evening is Goat Cheese and Beets with Baked Crotin De Champcol Goat Cheese, Tri-Color Beet Salad, and Avocado Mosaic, artfully spread across a white oval plate with goat cheese in the center surrounded by the fresh salad and a dollop of beet ice cream. The goat cheese, resting atop the warm, wonderfully flaky Crotin, infuses the mouth with a rich creaminess and subtle notes of butter. The yellow and red beets offer a pop of color and sweet flavor that cleanses the palate and ends the dish on a rich, slightly sweet but ultimately satisfying note.
Next we are served one of the Chef’s favorite dishes on the menu, the Steamed Santa Barbara Blue Prawn with Black Truffle Ricotta Cheese Cannelloni, Artichoke, Fennel, and Sauce Vierge. The presentation of this dish blows me away. The Blue Prawn is cut in half, with an array of fresh veggies scattered on top with the cannelloni nuzzled in this very tasty fruit of the sea. The Artichoke and fennel provide an earthy variety of texture and signature bitterness, which adds dimension to the dish. A subtle sea water aftertaste adds a distinct saltiness that brings out the flavor of the Prawn. The cannelloni offers a change of pace in both texture and flavor as the richness of the truffle and ricotta washes over the taste buds.
Third Course served is Sautéed Wild Seabass with Lavender Honey Braised Endive, Orange Blossom Mousse, and a Carrot-Orange Emulsion served on a classic white plate with a vivid display of orange provided by the mousse. The sea bass is moist and fresh—seared to add a necessary crunch. The dish is a sweet blend of flavors set off by the fragrant, eclectic orange blossom mousse. The dish is a lively play on the duo of zesty sweetness provided by the carrot –orange emulsion.
We conclude our delightful tour of Mistral’s seafood offerings with the Jumbo Scallops served alongside Summer Baby Vegetables, Fingerling Potatoes, and Ginger-Lobster Consommé. The scallops sit in a rich brown broth garnished with small purple flowers to brighten the presentation of the dish. The scallop is seared perfectly, creating the succulent duo of crunchy exterior and moist, soft interior. The Ginger-Lobster Consommé is rich and aromatic, adding a note of hominess and comfort to the dish. The veggies add a burst of freshness that round out the light but rich dish.
We end our sampling of entrees on a satisfyingly rich note as the Grilled Brandt Beef Tenderloin with Confit Basque Region Pimientos, Roasted Garlic, and Irouliguy Wine Reduction is placed on the table. The beef melts in my mouth as I take the first bite—the natural flavor of the meat highlighted by the Irouliguy wine reduction. The roasted garlic adds a distinct bitterness and bite that complements the flavorful pimientos with a hint of rosemary.
Chef Ponsaty comes over one last time to ask us how we liked our meal and to offer his recommendations for dessert. After discussing the options we decide to try the “Chocolate Kiss” or Bisou Au Chocolate. Dessert begins with a palate refresher—Trou Normand, or champagne and mango sorbet—a luxurious beginning to a surely sweet end to our meal. Displayed on a white plate in the shape of a flower, the Bisou Au Chocolate is placed on the table as a decadent blend of Crispy Praline Bitter Chocolate, Brandied Cherries, and Chocolate Sorbet. The “Chocolate Kiss” lives up to its name exuding a smooth, velvety texture with a distinctly chocolate flavor that is accentuated by the brandied cherries and chocolate sorbet.
The sun has set and the bright lights of the downtown skyline sparkle as I leave the restaurant, pleasantly stuffed with an infusion of delectable favorites accentuated by organic ingredients and powerful flavor. The hum of the intimate dining room continues as guests take in the view and savor the brilliant creations of Chef Ponsaty and the exceptional service provided by the staff. At Mistral guests have the the opportunity to find pleasure in taking a relaxing vacation—even if for a few hours.
It is best to arrive at Mistral early to ensure that you get the best table possible to watch the sunset. The menus change based on ingredient availability and the season, so make sure to check them out at the turn of every season! The close-knit feel of the dining room makes Mistral ideal for a romantic evening or relaxed dinner with friends.