Swanky digs and an inventive menu attract an upscale clientele at this trendy South Bay eatery..
It used to be Marine World. Now it's Oracle world. Either way, the gray, wooden strip mall in Redwood Shores makes an odd locale for fine dining. Although it's been open more than five years, Mistral still generates the excitement and buzz of a new hot spot. Inside, it's all cozy merriment. Its foyer's rich ochre hue is mirrored in hanging copper pots and lavish, autumnal arrangements. A smart bar area showcases sexy booze behind glass, and attractive patrons on stools. The main dining room is tricked out in business-like white napery and butcher paper, and a separate wine room is reserved for special events and more sedate dining.
The menu could be described as "millennial California": There's a little Asian influence, lots of pastas and risotti, wood-fired this-and-that and lots of seasonal produce. The autumn menu and specials feature a smorgasbord of leeks, toasted nuts and roasted veggies, but not always to best effect. Better to stick with the simple; try the teriyaki skirt steak (a perennial favorite), pizza margherita or mixed field-green salad. The same goes for dessert, if it includes the classic hot fudge sundae or pumpkin cheesecake. (December 2000)
Solid California/Mediterranean Fare. Tucked away amid the Oracle Emerald City in sickeningly suburban Redwood Shores, Mistral offers patrons solid California/Mediterranean fare in pleasant surroundings. Overlooking a placid lagoon, Mistral features a cozy bar and two-tiered dining room decorated in rich earth tones. With a menu including appetizers such as spicy Duck Confit Potstickers and garlicky Roasted Mussels Provencal and entrées such as Oak Fired Paella, Penne with Roasted Chicken, and Sesame-Crusted Ahi, Mistral delivers solid, if not innovative, cuisine. Diners should not be in a hurry, as service can sometimes be slow because management spreads the otherwise polite, knowledgeable servers too thin. The fairly-priced wine list abounds with California and French selections that harmonize with the cuisine, while the bar offers a full complement of more potent libations. While not the vanguard of the Northern California food scene, Mistral offers Peninsula dwellers well-executed fare at reasonable prices (dinner for two with wine $125).
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