Dinner at MIMI

After discovering MIMI through a recommendation on Passerbuys, illustrator Cerise Zelenetz visits the West Village bistro and shares her observations and illustrations of her meal...

Tucked away on Sullivan Street lies a little French gem recently brought to the attention of Passerbuys by West Village local Zoe Beyer, MIMI. The petite bistro setting contains no more than ten small tables, which meant even my visit on a quiet Sunday night ultimately obliged a wait. Instead of being upset at the delay, I happily took a seat at one of the glossy leather bar stools, ordered a glass of sancerre, and tried to soak in the atmosphere which was strengthened by the wafting aroma of savory incense. The mood was pleasantly at ease. In the front were others waiting for an open table, but unlike a true Parisian bistro, not one person seemed irritated—I suppose it’s difficult to be mad when you have an expert bartender whipping up custom negronis and old fashioneds right in front of you.


Finishing our glasses and ordering a bottle of chablis from their extensive wine list, we made our way to the back where we were seated at a charming corner booth. In exchange for our wait, we were bestowed with an intriguing array of glass jars containing housemade paté, dijon mustard, and an entire pint-sized jar of cornichon. Any apology including pickles will always be accepted by me.


This collective reaction continued throughout the meal. From dish to dish I was blown away at how each ingredient intermingled so vibrantly on the plate. Attention to detail was acutely subtle as well as delightfully shocking. Bites were served on platters chiseled from the same veined marble as the walls, and seared madai was presented in a balsamic emulsion that mirrored the marks on the fish itself. Even the boudin noir, a French classic typically served as a cased sausage, was given new artistic expression as it arrived resting in a pool of fragrant apple rosemary puree with two perfectly seared scallops resting atop.

The menu at MIMI is made for sharing. After a very difficult group decision (I would have ordered the entire menu if my stomach and wallet allowed), we settled on three raw dishes, a boudin noir, and a halibut entree to divide amongst the four of us. First to arrive were four bite-sized morsels of golden brown pomme dauphine topped with wasabi creme fraiche and the freshest, melt-in-your-mouth uni I’ve experienced in recent (or perhaps any) memory. This truly had to be the most luxurious tater tot in existence. As each of us popped the crispy, piquant, oceanic bites of goodness into our mouths, conversation halted as we all tried to reconcile the explosion of delicately balanced taste and texture we were experiencing.


With our last bites of buttery halibut consumed and every last morsel of morel devoured, all that remained were four smiling faces and a few sips of still chilled chablis. As the sips vanished, the grins grew even wider as our server placed a surprise plate of freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies between us stating, "Just a little something to celebrate Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Day."

Perfect for a quick cocktail with friends, small bites over a bottle of wine for date night, or even an elaborate business dinner, MIMI has an adaptable ease that many restaurants strive for but few achieve. I’ll definitely be coming back regularly for exquisite drinks, inspiring dishes, and many many cornichon.

Visit MIMI at 85 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012


Words & Illustrations by Cerise Zelenetz