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[Radar]: Mistral

Mistral, in the most basic sense is a simple, mid-priced Spanish restaurant -- guests split several tapas dishes and wine, depending on how hungry you are and how much you're willing to spend. Aesthetics wise, it's food that starts in Spain, but makes the conscious effort to appeal to both Chinese guests and continental Europeans (some French influences).
Last updated: 2015-11-09
Area: Mistral is located in the space that used to be Moroccan restaurant Marrakech. That's on Fuxing Lu, at Yongfu Lu, which is an intersection you're probably saying quite a lot these days to cab drivers. It's also the drop off point for: JZ Club, Tara 57, The Shelter, el Coctel, The Apartment, Tam O'Shanter, Shiva Lounge, the new Rhumerie Bounty, and Boxing Cat Brewery -- I think that's basically all of them.

Mistral is further down Fuxing Lu past Yongfu Lu, walking west from JZ Club. It's right across the street from Boxing Cat Brewery.

What it is: A new Spanish restaurant -- tapas and wine -- from the current management of Tara 57 and Chef Joaquín Campos. Hailing from Malaga in southern Spain, Campos used to be the man for Torres Wines, a position he attained after Willy from el Willy left the post to become a super famous Spanish chef in his own right. Torres, as I understand it, in addition to the wines, does catered events as well all over China. Campos was doing that before Mistral.

In the most basic sense it's a simple, mid-priced Spanish restaurant -- guests split several tapas dishes and wine, depending on how hungry you are and how much you're willing to spend. It's currently easing its way onto the Shanghai dining scene and building a menu on direct guest feedback trial and error. The trials are going very well, as Mistral has been booked to capacity basically every night since it has opened, and they plan to significantly raise the amount of seats to accommodate for demand (they currently seat around 30 but plan to almost double that number). It's hot right now. So hot right now.

Aesthetics wise, it's food that starts in Spain, but makes the conscious effort to appeal to both Chinese guests and continental Europeans (some French influences). It's not a capital "T" traditional Spanish restaurant, but rather one that is directly trying to react to Shanghai's international crowd. Lots of seafood and shellfish based dishes, an early success is the onion-caramelized goat cheese, main dishes are paellas and things, there's an in-demand beef dish, and there's also a lot of other personal, home recipes from the management and Campos himself (an eggplant humus among other things).

There's a decent sized selection of wine, 60% of it coming from Torres, and the rest from other dealers. Options are heavy in the continental wines -- French, Italian, and Spanish. There's also some popular selections from Portugal, Australia, and China.

Atmosphere: In addition to what's on the menu, the main selling point of Mistral is the space itself. By now, we're pretty numbed to the phrase "French concession converted town house", but Mistral in particular is really quite nice. It's a casual, Mediterranean-ish feel, with several atmospheric options despite the small space. It's split over two floors, with the ground floor home to café seating and a small patio. The second floor has two impressive "private" rooms and terrace seating.

The house itself is beautiful -- you could slaughter cattle on the first floor and people would still compliment the ambiance -- and they've kept it clean, casual, and slightly rustic. If you can snag one of the upstairs rooms, do so. It's one of those places that if you introduce it to people who don't already know about it, they'd be super impressed with your worldliness and advance knowledge of the new and the hip.

Damage: They're trying to keep the prices down, but I'd still say it qualifies as a bit of a splurge. Depending on the size of your party, you order tapas dishes and then larger mains to split, Chinese style. And a bottle of wine (they start at around 180rmb or so, but most are between 250-500rmb). At around two or three plates plus wine, you're looking at 200rmb to 300rmb to 400rmb per person, depending on how lavish you get. They do glasses of wine starting at 40rmb, but with a couple of dishes, it still adds up to "a nice night out". But hey, maybe I'm just a poor bastard.

Who's going: Spanish people. They roll on Shanghai like it's a moveable feast, buzzing in an out of places with jovial abandon. It's a tight-knit community. But these Spaniards, they're good times. Other than that, it's booked solid every night, so everyone who’s anyone is heading down, dahling. It's two rushes of people -- it opens for business at 5pm and then there's a second dinner rush at 10pm, in which a whole new house of people file in.

'Dat ess de way we do it in Essspain, mang. We don eat unteel midnight or 1am, mang. We crazy."

Muy excelente.

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