By Teri Vance
The best way to describe the cuisine at Mystique Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Carson City is American nouveau, said executive chef David Stern.
“My whole philosophy is finding out what the guests are looking for,” he explained. “Then I take that and add a twist to it. I like to challenge everybody’s palate.”
He does that by touch of cinnamon with grated parmesan to his calamari, paired with a chipotle honey marinara.
“It gives it a little bit of kick,” he said. “It can also be something as simple as adding wasabi to the mashed potatoes so it’s not just your standard mashed potato.”
Yvette Barrett was looking for something new and interesting when she opened the restaurant in December 2015.
“We use fresh, never frozen product,” she said. “We get our micro greens from Dayton. Cheese from Fallon. Potatoes and garlic from Washoe Valley.”
As such, the menu is always changing, depending on the ingredients in stock.
“People can come in again and again, and there’s always something new,” Barrett said.
Stern butchers all of the restaurant’s meat, even curing their own bacon. Fish is flown in fresh. Very little goes to waste — beet tops being utilized in side dishes, pork shoulder used in soups.
“In three months, I don’t think I’ve ever thrown out a full trash can,” Stern said. “I don’t like freezers. There’s no need for a freezer.”
Barrett grew up in South Lake Tahoe where she worked at Paul Kennedy’s Steakhouse. She moved to Douglas County in 1991 where she raised two children and ran a construction company with her ex-husband.
She moved to Carson City five years ago where she returned to the restaurant industry. When a group of friends approached her about helping her finance her own business, she was grateful and motivated.
“This has been a lifelong dream,” she said.
She also wants to make her restaurant a part of the community.
“We are a great spot for parties and meetings,” she said.
They also feature live music and local art on loan from the nearby Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery. All of the work is for sale.
“There’s some really great paintings here,” she said.
But for the main course, she went to Stern, a father of two who was educated at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and ran the kitchens and Reno favorites including SoDo and Charlie Palmer Steak.
“We have a great staff,” Barrett said. “Customer service is our No. 1 priority.”
She boasts an extensive yet affordable wine list. The restaurant hosts regular wine-pairing dinners, where guests are treated to six courses to go go with six different wines.
For dessert at the last pairing, Stern prepared an olive oil cake with a foie gras mousse and apricots.
“It sounds so weird,” Barrett said. “But people loved it.”
That, said Stern, is his primary motivation.
“I do what I do because it makes people happy,” he said.
Mystique Restaurant & Lounge
318 N Carson St, Carson City, NV 89701