I have wanted to try Le Mistral, on Wheeler Gate, for ages. I love French food and spent 6 weeks travelling around the South of France in my late teens.
My issue with French cuisine is that a lot of it contains cream, and as I am lactose Intolerant I can’t really eat it. However, nearly everywhere I went in France cooked everything fresh, so most dishes were still available, thankfully!
I was so looking forward to this, I scoured the menu for quite a while in preparation and merrily skipped through the rain last week to the Restaurant. It is tucked away through an arch on Wheeler Gate and I walked past twice before realising – visibility wasn’t great is the doom and gloom.
We were the first people in, and sat on the left hand side on a little table for two by the radiator. However, even though it was very cold, the radiator wasn’t on, which was a shame, as we were both pretty wet from the horrendous weather.
It took ages for us to choose our meals as the menu is jam packed with so much tasty sounding stuff. We were torn between the Breaded Whitebait with Aioli and the Wild Mushroom Fricassee and so shared both. The wild Mushrooms were amazing, pan fried in Garlic, white wine and tarragon and was presented beautifully, on thick slices of French bread.
The whitebait were golden, crisp and so fishy – extremely tasty. The aioli was basically mayonnaise without the flavour. I would have loved it more if it had more garlic or lemon in it. It didn’t really taste of anything.
On to mains – and what a nightmare. I ordered the Butternut squash & Sage risotto. It sounded incredible, with stock, spinach, sage and tomatoes. The waitress came back a couple of minutes later to say that the chef had to make the risotto with cream. I thought that was a misconception as risotto is really easy to make without the cream but apparently not. It really made me wonder if the food was cooked fresh.
I then asked to see the menu again to see if there was anything I could have that didn’t contain dairy – by this time I was a bit annoyed as I had already scoured the menu in search of anything that didn’t mention cream.
In the end I opted for the Seafood Linguine, with mussels, squid, prawn and octopus.
I absolutely love seafood, and will try to order it above anything else on a menu.
I was so disappointed in this. The seafood was bland, the octopus was rubbery, the mussels were the size of my little fingernail and the squid rings were so small they wouldn’t have fit a pencil through the centre. I’m especially annoyed at the mussels, considering there is a massive sign at the entrance to the restaurant saying ‘Mussels from Brussels, Bigger and Better’ They certainly weren’t. It tasted like it had been frozen, and that’s fine, but at least cook it properly if that is the case.
The sauce for the linguine was lovely however, with a garlic oil dressing and cooked perfectly. The seafood just totally ruined it for me. Tiny, rubbery seafood in a dish that cost me £13 is really disheartening.
My friend had the Porc Normande with Puy lentils and wasn’t overly impressed either unfortunately. I can’t comment as I didn’t try it.
During the mains, we weren’t asked if we were ok, if we had been I would have been honest and said that I didn’t enjoy it. That combined with the fact that we had run out of drinks and wanted to order more, but the waitresses were hiding around the corner really put a sour taste in my mouth.
But, 2 courses down, one incredible and one shocking, I was determined that the dessert would redeem the whole meal.
I ordered warm chocolate fudge cake and my friend ordered the Crème Brulee.
It looked delightful, I took my fork, plunged it in to the soft looking cake and took my first bite. It tasted exactly like it had been in the microwave too long. The sponge was dry and rough on my tongue and just lacked the flavour. The fudge sauce was lovely, but slightly burnt from the microwave.
All in all, I am really disappointed in this. The price would have been amazing had the food been enjoyable. £50 for 3 courses for 2 people would have been great value, but in this instance it really wasn’t. I wouldn’t ever choose to come back. But there are plenty more French restaurants to try thankfully.