Pork riblets with shiitakemushrooms and cucumber//Photos by Steve Legato
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.
Mistral’s Nyolie Roblez pours an Aviation;A Devil’s Garden
Located on the mall’s lower level, Mistral is named for the word denoting the strong, cold wind that blows across southern France in winter. It’s the second iteration of the Princeton, N.J., original of the same name, operated in tandem by Stephen Distler and chef Scott Anderson.
In KOP, Anderson gives chef de cuisine Craig Polignano free reign over the kitchen, allowing his protégé the latitude to bring a heightened level of culinary sophistication to the palates of mall-goers and foodies alike.
Grilled calamari, papaya salad and peanuts
Because of the bar’s central location, Mistral’s interior feels more like a relaxing 112-seat lounge than a mall restaurant. High-top tables, banquettes and comfy couches fill the place, while a gas fireplace flickers off to one side. The soothing scheme is awash in hues of blue, and hefty ropes cascade through the wood rafters, imparting a nautical look.
My meal began with a sharable snack of glistening pork riblets stacked on scallion-studded pancakes with shiitakes and cucumber. We followed this with the grilled calamari and papaya salad, the tender squid rings tinged by an enriching brown butter.
DAYBOATHALIBUT AND BABY CARROTS.
Some of the large plates tempted us away from tapas, including a perfectly roasted young chicken nesting in polenta, cipollini onions and zesty Serrano ham. The Vermont cheddar-topped Mistral Burger—the ground meat comes from New York’s legendary Debragga—was made salty-sweet with a tempting bacon jam. It was served on a brioche bun with a side of fries.
Along with elevated communal fare, the restaurant’s bar is replete with fine wines and a thoughtful mix of classic and specialty cocktails, partly thanks to Steven Gullo, formerly of Paramour.
With its lunch-into-dinner place-mat menu of farm-grown and foraged foods, Mistral is a tranquil happy-hour destination and a go-to spot for a multi-course feast as refined as anything in the western suburbs. If Polignano stays focused, the winds of success should shift in favor of Mistral.
Lamb belly with chickpea panisse and escarole
160 N. Gulph Road, King of Prussia, (610) 768-1630.
Cuisine: Inventive, globally inspired small and large plates.
Atmosphere: Visual allegories of earth, fire and wind amid azure colors.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Extras: Seasonal full-service outdoor dining; happy hour 3–7 p.m. Monday-Thursday.