Loews Coronado Bay Resort's premier restaurant sources organic herbs and fruits from its onsite 3,800-square-foot garden
We’re not in France, but if you close your eyes in the coastal herb garden of Mistral, you could think so.
View of 3,800-square-foot herb garden at Mistral, Loews Coronado Bay Resort
Welcome to a wonderland of organic gardens, where fragrances of lavender, thyme, lemongrass, and mint—65 varieties of herbs and fruits—scent the coastal winds off Coronado Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Mistral is named for the coastal wind that blows across Provence (if the video does not load, please refresh the page):
When you dine at Mistral, you’ll discover a fusion of Northern Italian and modern French cuisine. Seasonal vegetables, sustainable seafood, meats and dairy are sourced from local organic farmers and purveyors in the region.
A Walk in the Herb Garden is a special event that takes place on Saturdays (by reservation) at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.
Insider’s Tip #1: This is the perfect garden and culinary event for birthday, anniversary, and special celebrations with friends and family—the more, the merrier.
“Good food takes time. You have to respect your ingredients,” says Jonny Freyberg, Sous Chef at Mistral. We are inside the herb garden as he leads us on a sampling of leaves and petals of various herbs we’ll be using. I try chocolate mint for the first time, which tastes a bit like an un-sweet Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie. Brilliant orange nasturtium petals are not as packed with flavor, but provide a sunset hue to any salad, and they’re good for you. During our grazing, a bartender joins us in the garden to gather a few herbs for cocktails. Does it get any fresher than that?
As part of Jonny’s culinary background, he trained in a small village in France in the art of making bread, with the father of fifth-generation French chef Patrick Ponsaty, Mistral’s Executive Chef.
Raised and trained in France, the Executive and Sous Chefs share a deeper respect for creating true, handcrafted meals that inspire quality time with those around the table. You’ll get a feeling for this love of community when you take the tour.
Insider’s Tip #2: Feeling adventurous? Try the chefs’ tasting menu, offering five courses that represent a variety of culinary adventures in modern French cuisine.
In many parts of France, farm-to-fork means knowing who grows wheat for your bread, ferments grapes for your wine, and delivers fresh milk and cream, which perhaps you may trade for fresh caught fish. Mistral bridges this community feeling in our more urban setting by sourcing local ingredients, and cooking with bouche amour, or love in the mouth, for you.
During our garden tour and demonstration, Jonny demonstrates how to make a chiffonade from leaves of basil, carefully rolling the green petals tightly—but not so tight as to bruise—then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife to create fine ribbons. Every process in creating Mistral’s cuisine is artful.
And it’s happily noisy, as he places shrimp in sautéed herbs. “That’s what we call the happy sizzle,” says Jonny. “The vegetable isn’t screaming because the pan is not too hot.”
Insider’s Tip #3: Chefs create nightly specials, highly recommended because of what’s in season, and locally available fresh from the farm and sea.
Menus change with the seasons, as do evening sunset views from the upper floor restaurant. This spring on the tour, you may sip a Lavender Drop Martini, mixed with fresh lavender leaves, lemon juice, vodka, and simple syrup. Savor the Chorizo Vegetable dish, with Spanish Bilbao chorizo (seared), Spanish onion, roasted red bell pepper, leeks, and garlic. This forms the depth for layered Sautéed Shrimp prepared separately in garlic, shallots, lemon juice, and a hint of pepper and salt.
San Diego County has more organic farms than any other county in the nation. With my Walk in the Herb Garden with Jonny Freyberg, I come away knowing that Mistral is one shining example of how to do it right.
Mistral is open Tuesday through Saturdays for dinner, and is located at 4000 Loews Coronado Bay Rd., Coronado. For more information and for reservations, call 619-424-4000 or visit restauranteur.com/mistral.
A Walk in the Herb Garden is offered Saturdays from 2-3pm. Tour Mistral’s herb garden followed by a cocktail and appetizer demonstration and sampling.
Cost: $18 a person (recipes are included).
RSVP: 619-424-4000 ext. 6300