Monday, October 26, 2009

To squash or not to squash Mimi's Cafe

We decided to grab a casual bite after visiting my grandparents' and aunt's graves at Forrest Lawn Cemetery. We're not usually in the area so I didn't know where to grab some food. Someone knew that Mimi's Cafe was round the corner so we made our way over. This will probably be either a very short review or a super long one because on one hand, I am so NOT motivated to write this but on the other, I could probably rant nonstop. Why you might ask? Because the food and service sucked. But why would I bother writing about this place? Well, I like my food blog to focus not only on really nice fancy restaurants, but also on cheaper accessible good dining deals.

Mimi's Cafe is a chain restaurant that serves French comfort food at affordable prices. The restaurant building is a little cottage and the interior decor is colorful and kitschy. This particular outpost is located in a shopping plaza that includes a Costco and Best Buy. So you know right away that parking on a weekend will be manic and it took me 15 minute to get out of the parking lot. Anyway, that's the least of my problems.

I ordered my standard weekend beverage, a mimosa. My uncle asked if they had smoothies, perhaps wild berry, and the waitress said "yes! we have lots".. then she frantically flipped the menu trying to find the smoothie section. Oh wait.. never mind, there are only two options: Strawberry or Strawberry & Banana. Fine, he'll take the strawberry.

Mimosa, split of cava/sparkling wine arrived. I liked that it was a split and a nice large glass. But no smoothie yet. My uncle waited for another 10 minutes before our waitress came by to say "Oh sorry, we are washing our smoothie glasses. It's gonna take a while.. Did you still want it or cancel the order". Humph, really? Over 10 minutes to wash a glass? When I was walking in, barely anyone was drinking smoothies. I know because I was specifically looking at every one's beverage to see if anyone was drinking a mimosa. OK, minor setback.

Bread basket of french rolls and banana or carrot bread, with whipped butter
Liked the banana/carrot bread. I like that they served something different from regular bread. It kind of reminded me of the little bread pieces that they served at Artisan in Paso Robles and Ad Hoc in Yountville. I'll give Mimi's a gold star for this.

Pan seared scallops with butternut squash ravioli with tomatoes, garlic mushrooms and roasted tomato cream sauce
I was excited when I saw this on the menu- I mean, butternut squash ravioli and scallops? Yum! I know creamy sauces can be a bit too heavy so I asked how heavy it was. Not too heavy, she said. I asked if they could make it lighter. I didn't want a tummy ache all the way back to the westside. She said yes of course! I'm beginning to think, she's so accommodating. I like her.
When the dish came out, it was anything but light. The sauce was oily, see below. Honestly, it looked like the oil that you would sometimes see when you nuke your leftover Cheesecake Factory pasta the next day.

The scallops were cooked perfectly and absolutely scrumptious. But hmm... where's the butternut squash? The ravioli tasted like normal ricotta filling, see below of the ravioli and on the top center of the photo, the cheese that I scooped out because I can't eat cheese.

I asked the waitress about this and she said "Oh the butternut squash is in the sauce. I think...." then scuttled away. OK, that is my pet peeve- when waitstaff don't know the answer (which is OK) but try to wing it and don't even bother saying "You know what, I don't know, I'll check and come right back to you". The waitress seriously got me doubting myself.. Maybe it DID say regular ravioli and maybe it was just a butternut squash sauce, although I don't even taste the butternut squash in the sauce.

After lunch, I went to check the menu to get some resolution and stealthy took a photo.

I knew it! It WAS supposed to be butternut squash ravioli, not ricotta, And yes, there was no butternut squash in the sauce, it was tomato based. Grrr.... I should have had more faith in myself. Thank goodness there were scallops on my plate and my sister ordered a side of fries because I would have certainly starved. I am still a bit annoyed about the outcome of this dish because I was going to order the Belgian waffles but when the waitress reassured me that the tomato sauce could be lightened, I decided to go with it. Plus, the butternut squash ravioli sounded delicious. What a let down...

Bistro lamb shank
Tender lamb shank, slowly simmered in a red wine garlic sauce with pan veggies, broiled asparagus and homemade mash potatoes
At $10.99, it's a steal! The lamb was tender, but the asparagus was overcooked and the mash although served in a generous portion, had no seasoning.

Hand carved Turkey cobb wrap
With smoked bacon, avocado, sliced tomatoes, shaved lettuce, bleu cheese crumbles, green onion and zest herb spread, wrapped in a tomato tortilla and served with baby greens.
The components of the wrap were a bit too creamy and there was too much herb spread. The spread overwhelmed the wrap and what would had been a light refreshing meal became a heavy one.

OK, I know that some of you are shaking your head and thinking to yourself, she's crazy for expecting anymore more from a dish that costs $10. I know, you get what you pay for. But I can get oh-so-much-better-food if I went to get pho or a sandwich. I was seriously contemplating hitting a drive-through on my way home. Besides the heavy sauce and missing squash, service was an issue. If our waitress hadn't tried to pretend she knew exactly what was on the menu, I'd be more forgiving. Next time, stick with the safe items. They can't possible muck up Belgian waffles right? Well, I wouldn't hold my breath...

Hits: bread basket, scallops
Misses: service!!, parking lot is a zoo, oily pasta sauce, where's my butternut squash ravioli?
Rate: *

Mimi's Cafe
2925 Los Feliz Blvd.,
Los Angeles CA 90039
(323) 668-1715


oddlyme said...

I have not been to Mimi's and for "nice" dinners, I'm generally not a chain person. However it looks cute and it's a good location for me so I asked around about it. Most folks say it's decent.


One of the gals who likes Mimi's says she's been to the one you were at (by Costco on Los Feliz) and she says it's not as good as the others. She doesn't know why that is, but she says it is. And she's a straight talker.

So I'd say don't let this one experience sour you on Mimi's. After talking to folks, I'm willing to try it. Just not the one on Los Feliz...

stuffycheaks said...

Thanks oddlyme for the research! I am sure I just ordered wrongly, and it didn't help that the waitress didn't know what was on the plate. My mom actually likes Mimi's (the one in the Northridge) so it looks like the locations do matter. The breakfast dishes looked good (I scanned around) so maybe that's the way to go!