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June 30, 2010

Rave gone wrong

Bourbon Street

Shallow Thought Wednesday guru John Lindner sends news of a restaurant that did not live up to its billing. He wonders: "Was it me?" Here's John. LV

We hit Mimi’s Café in Elkridge after hearing raves.

Mimi’s styles itself as a New Orleans/French café, and Lord knows it was hot and muggy enough outside to be Louisiana.

But inside Mimi’s?

Their iced tea was good! It tasted like tea.


The pasta dish was nearly bland. My companion had a burger which she liked a lot. They did get her request for medium rare right; that alone wins extra points. And the thing came with bacon, so that’s sort of seals the goodness deal. The artichoke and spinach dip (we’d heard special raves about it) was OK.

Besides my immediate company, the most fun I had was people watching. In that sense, Mimi’s was not without character(s). There was a guy in a booth near ours who was laying some convincing war stories on his kids. I don’t know how they were receiving the tales, but I wanted to lean in closer and listen in. And there was a woman with a Joan Cusack thing going on. Her expressions ran a scale from impatient annoyance to fawning bonhomie. What a delight to watch the transformations.

Our server was competent, giggly. The bartender seemed disgruntled and possibly coming down off something … or still on the wrong thing: he frowned a lot and appeared to be very busily doing nothing.

My guess: Mimi’s has a long menu that has (may have) a short list of things they do well. (Muffins? Anybody know?) That or it really is just a step sideways from Applebee’s. Not to slight Applebee’s; it’s a perfect example of its niche.

Had our raver’s characterized the place as a glorified “family restaurant” chain, I’d have gone in with lowered expectations. I’d have cleaved to what appeared to be their specialties. Maybe I’d have left without the bitter taste of … not disappointment (it wasn’t that bad, just not … ravey) … yeah, actually, disappointment.

Was it me? Did I miss something?

I don’t want to smash a place because on one random shot it didn’t live up to billing.

Photo by Mary Margaret Webster courtesy Stock Xchng

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 11:28 AM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

Is this the location at the intersection of 175 and 108 in the big box store and chain restaurant complex? If so, then you should have known what to expect.

Wow we just went there last weekend for the first time and were really impressed.
It was one of those why-havent-we-come here-til-now moments.
The fixed price menu special was terrific, server was friendly and knowledgeable, and the food was fantastic!
It is now in our "regular rotation."

Wow we just went there last weekend for the first time and were really impressed.
It was one of those why-havent-we-come here-til-now moments.
The fixed price menu special was terrific, server was friendly and knowledgeable, and the food was fantastic!
It is now in our "regular rotation."

So apparently true Chris, and shame on me. Had it not been for the raves....
Further, I don't discount chains de haut en bas. The ones of which I'm fond tend to defy, transcend or embrace the essence of chainery.

Yeah, what CalicoGal said, only with feeling: that's the sort of "hie thee or be mocked" sort of recommendations I heard -- from solid, reliable sources. Maybe my experience was a one-off flub.

Mimi's is my new fav for breakfast. The crepes are excellent. Thin and flavorful on their own. In general, I would say that Mimi's is good middle of the road comfort food.

Mimi's muffins are as good as any you'll find in a non-bakery setting (and better than a lot of bakeries.) I agree with carolb that they do breakfast best. Oh, and I like their burgers, too.

Mimi's is a chain

http://www.mimiscafe.com/

John,
I must admit there are a couple of chains that I frequent as well. More so because of convenience and the food is decent at a fair price.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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