My eyes were getting droopy as we waited for dessert to come out at Mistral Kitchen on Monday night, so it was a nice surprise when a French press full of tea, along with glasses full of cardamom, mint, and sugar, came out just prior to the final course. The last and best course of the evening was the atayaf, described on the menu as 'ricotta-filled pancakes' but more closely resembling a deep-fried empanada. They smelled like the Puyallup Fair--the food, not the barn animals--with the combination of dough blistered in oil and honey drizzled on top. The calming tea helped allay my soon-to-be-confirmed worries about the price tag for the meal.
The atayaf was the third course of our prix fixe Syrian meal from Arabesque, a Monday night special menu put on in tandem with Mistral Kitchen's regular menu. The featured country rotates every few weeks, but I was glad to see Syrian food on the menu, as it's not a cuisine you see much of in these parts. Mistral Kitchen's Taylor Cheney cooked up quite the feast, but the meal faced into the inherent issue of having a pop-up run together with a fine-dining restaurant, rather than in place of it: matching the price point to keep check totals up.
As we were seated, we were handed a stack of menus. The half-sheet explaining the Arabesque menu was informative, offering an explanation of the cuisine, as well as listing the dishes. Along with the cocktail and wine lists, we also got the regular dinner menu. The Arabesque menu is expensive on its own ($45), but seems reasonable when compared with the usual menu, where a single entrée runs nearly the same price.
As is so often the case with pop-up dinners, the best part was trying food that is otherwise hard to find in town. The siti izmiqi soup (with noodles, meat, lentils) was nothing I'd tried before, and the main dish, stuffed squash with meat cooked in yogurt, over rice, was equally unusual. The downside, as is also often the case, was that the dishes were barely tested, and thus not completely perfect. At most pop-ups, the cheap price mitigates the lack of refinement, but here, the price point match-up with Mistral Kitchen's menu prevents that. Although I enjoyed, my meal, my newly-lightened wallet left me hard-pressed to want to return to try the next country in the Arabesque rotation.