A freelance writer, reviewer and broadcaster passionate about South Australia's fabulous wine and food.
Published November 29th 2016
Modern French cuisine
When David Swain and Sharon Romeo were persuaded to move their much-loved restaurant Fino from the little town of Willunga to Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley, there was a deal of dismay and gnashing of teeth.
But that all changed when the young French owners of local cafe La Terre, Tarik Marco and Sandrine Maltret, decided to take on the challenge of creating a new dining experience in this historic town.
They called their restaurant Le Mistral, evoking the intense winds that blow through the south of France, where Tarik was raised.
The food is decidedly French, utilising local produce from the bountiful Fleurieu Peninsula and the Willunga Farmers' Market, which is held in the town square right outside the front door every Saturday.
There has been little change in the bones of the restaurant building and the kitchen is still open to the dining room for all to see the energy as the chefs work.
Tarik is from Provence and trained under Alain Ducasse, while Sandrine is from Paris, so each brings a little something different to the mix. And the food is superb - a peasant style snail and mushroom pastry is a personal favourite, while my other half will never refuse the generous slab of foie gras that accompanies the home made brioche or tops the succulent Black Angus steaks.
Tarik likes to use truffles in his food and the Nomad chicken grown at Finniss is slow cooked for 4 hours in truffle sauce, then served with a cream truffle sauce - it is to die for! And his fragrant home made truffle butter gives a real lift to the famous bread by Andy Clappis from Willunga Hill.
But old favourites are not forgotten either and I recently heard a mate comment that at Le Mistral he had just eaten the best steak he'd ever had! The duck a l'orange comes with an intense orange reduction and a luscious Grand Marnier sauce, while the bouillabaisse is chock full of market fresh seafood with whole garfish popping their delicious heads from the bowl.
Desserts, of course, are a very French feature - creme brulee, profiteroles, tarte aux pommes and the fluffiest souffles that are a meal in themselves!
Sandrine looks after front of house and takes pride in keeping the customers happy and well supplied with food and drink. And she doesn't even grimace when patrons want to try out their language skills on her!
If you haven't visited Le Mistral yet, do so before the rest of the populace finds out about it! They are open from Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner - check the website for times and a copy of the menu.