Touch o’ New Orleans

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Chico Escuela David Robert

Melisa, our ever-accommodating server, was a great sport throughout our two-hour dining experience at Mimi’s Café, the large yellow cottage-like building next to Krispy Kreme.

Before being seated at our table, we spent about 10 minutes in Mimi’s Café's well-planned waiting area. With seating for about 40 patrons, the waiting nook offers a cozy fireplace with a six-point deer head above the mantle and light, feel-good jazz à la Kenny G. The time spent waiting presented a good opportunity to take in the décor. Mimi’s Café offers American food with touches of New Orleans, jazz and French paraphernalia everywhere. My favorite was a sign that read, “Bonjour, Y’all.”

Once seated in an atrium-like room, occupancy 49, we discovered that the menu contains more than 100 items. We were served with a mini French dinner roll and a slice of carrot-raisin-nut bread—an unexpected, pre-dinner treat for sure.

For starters, we ordered potato skins with cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato and scallions ($6.29). They were perfect—a meal in themselves. We also ordered a crock of spinach and artichoke dip ($6.99), with melted jack cheese, parmesan, fresh spinach, artichoke hearts and chopped dried roma tomatoes. Pretty tasty goo.

Our entrees came with a choice of garden or Caesar salad or one of the three soups du jour. Michael ordered J.B.'s 14-oz Rib Eye ($14.99), a choice-boneless ribeye, charbroiled on the barbeque, which came with a mound of cole slaw made with scallions and a giant baked potato.

I chose the fresh King Salmon ($12.49), blackened with Cajun spices, fresh vegetables (squash, broccoli and carrots) and mashed red potatoes, including the skins, with gravy.

Once our dishes were served, Melisa really began to shine. Michael had ordered his steak medium rare, but it arrived bloody in the center. And I took one taste of the gravy on the mashed potatoes and knew it was not my style. So we summoned over Melisa and shared our concerns.

She had some dirty dishes in her hands, and without missing a beat, she said, “Let me set these dishes down, wash my hands, and I’ll be right back to take care of you.”

She returned and apologized for the food not being to our liking and whisked off our plates. Within minutes, she returned with both our entrees; Michael’s ribeye was now a perfect medium-rare and I had a brand new helping of gravy-free potatoes on a brand new plate. We sincerely appreciated Melisa’s promptness, professionalism and reassurance. Now we could get to the business of eating. Everything was yummy.

Melisa called us troopers when we gave her our dessert order. Michael ordered the dessert special: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie ($4.99), which was an individual pecan pie filled with pecans and brown sugar served warm atop a bed of hot fudge. As if that weren’t decadent enough, a huge scoop of the best French vanilla ice cream Michael’s ever had, whipped cream and a drizzle of whiskey sauce completed the dish.

My dessert, the New Orleans Bread Pudding ($3.99), was equally decadent and delightful, made of French bread, cream, eggs, sugar, raisins and pure vanilla, served warm with whiskey sauce and whipped cream. Sublime.

Overall, Mimi’s Café, a 24-plus-year-old chain that began in Anaheim, Calif., is well-planned and has it together. Melisa, as well as the others we observed in Mimi’s legions of waitstaff, was attentive and good-spirited as well a having a great smile and a good sense of humor.