Not long ago, the chic, vibrant restaurant Mistral opened its doors in the heart of downtown Princeton near the Library. Its mix of taste, style, and atmosphere made it a destination location where diners enjoy an outdoor seating area as well as a cool interior space. Chefs Scott Anderson and Ben Nerenhausen, whose talent has drawn recognition from the industry’s most authoritative players — among which included the James Beard Foundations, which named Anderson as a semi-finalist for best Mid-Atlantic Chef in 2013 and 2014 and Nerenhausen as a seminfinalist Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2013 — continue to place emphasis on fresh, local ingredients, creating a variety of culturally influenced, inventive small plates for guests to savor and share.
Currently, Mistral has a limited menu of beer, wine, and cocktails but soon, with the completion of its new full service bar, Mistral’s guests will enjoy a full craft cocktail menu that is both unexpected and attuned to chef Anderson’s local and seasonal ethos. This will not be your mother’s mojito. Drinks will be part of the culinary interplay. This new bar will also offer an extensive craft beer and wine menu when it opens in late May. For guests who prefer to bring their own wine, a corkage fee of $15 per bottle will be applied beginning May 1.
A sampling of the full Mistral menu will be available at the new bar, but a specific small plate bar menu is being created. Two private rooms that can become one, seating up to 40 people, are being built above the existing space. Additional outside seating will be open at the new bar end of the expanded area.
In a move calculated to concentrate creative culinary energy, chef Anderson and partner Steve Distler have brought their popular venue elements to Mistral’s building, designing a more intimate dining space than existed at the former State Road location. An elevator from the new entrance on Witherspoon Street will provide effortless access. From a glassed aerie overlooking the passing parade, guests will have a relaxed fine dining experience, and the venue coupling provides the opportunity for chef Anderson to touch every plate.
elements’ intimacy comes from the unique configuration that will allow five chefs the ability to serve diners directly, with small wait staff. The kitchen will be completely open, and specially tinted glass panels will allow passersby to see the dining and kitchen area. The menu will change daily based upon what is available that meets the demanding eye of chef Anderson. A creative tasting menu is highlighted on the weekends.
Anderson believes that collaboration among fellow chefs and local purveyors allows for culinary ideas to move forward. This intrinsically American belief is practiced by Anderson and his team daily as they work with local farms and butchers in farming, foraging, curing, and fermenting ingredients to execute their vision of transforming classic dishes into something completely new. Born and raised in New Jersey, Anderson spent part of his childhood in Japan. This exposure to foreign tastes and cultures piqued his interest in the culinary arts. It greatly influenced his technique and the distinctive flavor profiles he develops.
elements is expected to open in mid-summer 2015, approximately one month after the opening of Mistral’s full-service bar, which is slated for late May. The combined energy of these two cutting edge venues promises to change Princeton’s palate for good.
Mistral, 66 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. 609-688-8808. www.mistralprinceton.com. See ad, page 11.