Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mimi's Cafe Round-Up

After two days of sitting out, burning under the Spring sun, with our yard sale to raise money for our upcoming Temple Sealing*; I was exhausted just from the whole "working" aspect of sitting on my butt for two days, but also had a pretty good case of heat exhaustion coupled with lack of sleep exhaustion.

So last night, there was no way I was going to get up and head into the kitchen and make something to eat. Not only that, but an unexpected "run-in" with someone who had donated some things had me pretty upset. The women on my mother's side of the family have long said that an upset woman will make bitter food, so I thought it best that we head out for dinner.

I don't know about you, but when I am in need of "comfort food", I tend to turn to cheese. Of course, most times "comfort food" for me is something Chinese or Asian; but last night, all I wanted was something cheesy.

Setting out in search for something cheesey, we decided on "Mimi's Cafe" based on a Food Network show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Cheese" recommendation for their 5-cheese grilled sandwich. We drove all the way out to Chandler Blvd and the 101 only to find that they'd closed at 9PM last night for a "scheduled maintenance". I was not a happy camper and was close to giving into to... *gasp* McDonald's or another unappetizing fast food store scattered around on almost every street corner. But, my dear husband convinced me to persevere... So I did, all the way to Mimi's on Shea and the 101. While they were on opposite ends of world, or there abouts, the drive back to Scottsdale and up to Shea was worth it.

We pulled up to the cottage-like Mimi's Cafe, and walked in to a restaurant that resembled a family living room than a corporate chain restaurant. We were lead into a room with high ceilings and were instantly transported to some quaint place in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

While it was late, and we were (at that time) the only patrons in the restaurant, we were immediately welcomed by Katia (pronounced like Shania [as in Twain]), who took our orders for drinks.

The menu is very extensive with lots of "comfort foods" screaming out to be tested out.

Katia brought us a basket of fresh baked sour-dough rolls, and slices of carrot walnut bread which I could have easily enjoyed as a meal in itself; those alone are worth the trip out to Mimi's.

As I looked over the menu, immediately I was attracted to the Fried Cheese; which consisted of five slices of Parmesan breaded fresh mozzarella cheese served over warmed marinara with fresh Romano cheese grated over top. And it was delicious, although sharing a plate of five slices with a hungry husband did feel very much like a terribly small portion. We were both disappointed with only having 2 1/2 slices of cheese each especially for the price we paid.

Next we moved on to the dinner salad, which I had with blue cheese dressing and crumbled blue cheese on top. As far as salads go, there was nothing outstanding about that, and was rather disappointed that the cucumbers were bitter. Possibly using English hot house cukes would have corrected that.

But again, upon first seeing the salad, we were disappointed with the size; but strangely we began getting filled half-way through the salad.

Following our salad, we each had a cup of the soup of the day, split pea and ham. Now this impressed me because it tasted very much like my own split pea and ham only much thicker like a paste. Now THAT stuck to our bones; it was hearty, delicious, and I totally recommend the split pea and ham on Monday's.

Now for the piece de resistance; I ordered the Chicken Piccata with Asparagus off of the "Comfort Food" menu; this consisted of two broiled chicken breasts smothered with garlic mushrooms and a lemon caper butter. It was served with mashed potatoes and grilled citrus marinated asparagus. Ben ordered the Jambalaya off of the "Pasta" menu; which had good size chunks of chicken breast, a "dusting" of plump shrimp, Cajun sausage, and pork loin in a creole tomato sauce, which was served over penne pasta.

Mine arrived and was a picture of perfection; in fact to such a degree that I took a photo. The jambalaya arrived as if it were something I would serve at home, not necessarily picture perfect but it still looked good enough to warrant a photo.

I very rarely, if ever, send my compliments back to the chef for the food I eat. Not because the food is not good, but I have a pretty high regard for taste, and unless something is absolutely sublime and makes an impact on my taste buds leaving a lasting impression, I don't usually bother. After trying my first mouthful of the chicken piccata, I entered a state of bliss where my surroundings literally disappeared and all that was left was me with this plate of absolute delight.

The initial burst of flavour was that of capers, followed by citrus. The chicken had a hint of flavour, but not so overpowered that it was not identifiable. The asparagus was grilled to perfection and in itself had a burst of flavour. The mashed potatoes were nothing to really write home about and I suspect were a mix of real and instant potatoes.

Ben's jambalaya was also a burst of flavours in the mouth and was an absolutely delightful tasting experience. We both agree that it could have had more shrimp, but the balance of the spice and tomatoes was perfect. In the past, my jambalaya experience has not been pleasant, but Mimi's delivered last night and has restored my faith in trying it again.

We ended up bringing home doggie bags, and a little gift of four muffins that Mimi's makes from Katia, and not walking but rather waddling out.

Our total bill for a starter which we shared, two starter salads, soup of the day, main course, and soft drinks for both of us came to just over $50; which was not too bad for all that we ate and we've still go another meal each.

So next trip; and believe me, there will be a next trip, I'm planning to try the French Market Onion Soup and the Special Grilled 5-Cheese sandwich.

While we were disappointed on the outset with the portion size, the food is hearty and really does stick to your bones and is very misleading even for seasoned over eaters.

My round up, I highly recommend Mimi's Cafe, but I've been warned to stay away from the steak menu. The roast turkey is the most ordered food on the menu and I was assured that it is the best thing on the menu... Maybe another trip... after our next visit.

Chicken Piccata with Asparagus


* Celestial marriage (also called Temple Sealing, Temple Marriage, New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage and Eternal Marriage) is a doctrine unique to Mormonism, particularly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). http://www.lightplanet.com/family/marriage/eternal_marriage.html

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