The Cuisine Scene
San Bernardino, CA
before I moved to California, I loved Mimiís Cafť. While visiting my
son who lived in Upland Hills, I wanted to try a new restaurant, so he
took me to this lovely upscale cafť with beamed ceilings and colorful
Mardi Gras prints hanging on brick walls.
French onion soup, something I wasnít too eager to try, and a French
Dip sandwich. Accustomed to traveling at least twenty miles from my
small northern Minnesota town for anything other than burgers at my
local fast-food restaurant, I played it safe with a BLT and salad. But
when the server delivered his steaming soup covered with melted cheese,
I began to think I shouldíve taken his advice and tried something
different. He was gracious and offered a taste, which I promptly
accepted. Instead of a dark brown broth with the bitter flavor Iíd
expected, Mimiís golden brown soup tasted smooth and creamy with butter
When the server
brought my sonís sandwich, I eyed his half-pound of lean beef piled on
a grilled sourdough baguette and considered ways to bribe him into
trading. When all my tactics failed, I played on his sympathy. Even
though he swore he loved me, I had to talk fast before heíd consider
trading. Even then, he only gave up half his sandwich.
Now I live in
California and Iíve visited the cafe in several cities. Although I love
to try different places, sometimes I want something I know will be
fantastic, whether itís a sandwich or a complete meal. Mimiís have
added so many delectable items to their menu that I like to go as often
as I can to make sure I donít miss anything.
Sheila and I visited the cafť on Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino.
Crystal, our server, brought our bread basket and my French onion soup.
whether itís pasta, steaks and chops, fish, or one of their classics
such as pot roast or chicken pot pie, includes their signature bread
basket of a freshly-baked sourdough baguette and two generous slices of
their carrot-raisin bread accompanied by softened butter.
Underwood, one of the managers, told Sheila and me about Mimiís
founder, Arthur J Simms, who, according to lore, flew spy missions over
Europe in World War Two. After the war ended, he ran the commissary at
the MGM studios, and with his son, Tom, owned several restaurants in
the Los Angeles area. Then, with two more partners, they decided to
open a restaurant patterned after French cafes that serve generous
portions of upscale, freshly prepared food. In 1978, Mimiís was born.
Who was Mimi? I
asked. Legend has it that Mimi was a young woman Arthur J. met in a
town near Versailles toward the end of the war, and the French touch
was exactly what the partners wanted in their restaurant. Customers
agreed and now Mimiís has expanded into twenty-one other states.
If you order one
of their six salads such as Bleu Cheese and Walnut, a Zesty Chicken
Tostada salad, or one of the four others that are offered, you have
your choice of a freshly baked muffin, including honey oat bran,
buttermilk spice, carrot raisin nut, low fat blueberry or one thatís
currently in season. Salads range from around eight dollars for the
petite size to ten for the larger one. You can add one of their daily
soups for a dollar.
Some of their
sandwiches include Albacore and Avocado on sourdough toast; Meatloaf
Ciabatata of grilled meatloaf with caramelized red onions with cheeses
and garlic mayonnaise; West Coast Reuben with turkey, ham, Swiss cheese
and 1000 Island dressed on grilled rye, or their classic French dip.
But my favorite is their Pot Roast Sandwich with tomato, lettuce and
mayo on a sourdough baguette. I love that one. The pot roast, cooked
in-house, is lean and tender, and when itís combined with the crunch of
the baguette bread, itís great.
are half-pounders, and they have a French Quarter burger with avocado,
bacon, double Swiss cheese and 1000 Island dressing on grilled garlic
sourdough for $8.99. All of their sandwiches and burgers include fries
the menu, Crystal suggested an appetizer, and they all looked so good
that it was difficult to select one. She suggested the Jazz Fest, a
combination of three selections. Soon she brought a plate of Fried
Chicken Tenders, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Zucchini Parmesan, slices
of French bread and dipping sauces. Crunchy chips accompanied the dip
of spinach, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and four cheeses.
Chopped green onions topped the bowl. Spears of crunchy zucchini with
parmesan and romano cheese lay beside the chicken tenders. But the
nicest surprise was the tenders. Instead of minced chicken, I bit into
white chunks of chicken breast, and Crystal said the cooks pull the
chicken from fresh-baked chickens. They even make their own breading
and tortilla chips. The dip was thick and cheesy with chunks of
artichoke and Sheila and I scraped the bottom of the bowl. We would
have ordered another helping except we wanted to save room for
Sheila chose the
Crab Cake dinner, and I considered the Hibachi Salmon, flame broiled
fresh salmon and stir-fried vegetables glazed with ginger sweet and
sour sauce served on jasmine rice, or the Filet of ĎSoul.í Iíd had the
sole with vegetables previously and loved it. Sometimes Iíll want some
old-fashioned comfort food, and nothingís better than the Turkey Breast
dinner with homemade mashed potatoes, gravy, and their homemade
cornbread dressing. As a Southerner raised on cornbread, I love Mimiís
Some of their
other dinners are Meatloaf, Pot Roast, and their special Chicken Pot
Pie. Dinners ranged from $10.79 for the Grilled Beef Liver to $15.49
for the 12 oz Top sirloin.
Iíve also had
several of the pasta dishes such as Pasta Jambalaya; Garlic Shrimp
Spaghettini, a delicious dish of large shrimp and pasta with basil and
marinara sauce. My son often orders the Chicken Feta Penne of sun-dried
tomatoes, fresh basil and pine nuts in a tomato asiago cream sauce for
$12.79. Itís good and creamy, especially when the everything melts
together and the flavors mix. The pine nuts add a delightful crunch.
But while they
all sounded great, I wanted something a little different, so Crystal
pointed out three new seasonal dishes that had been added since my last
braised with herbs, topped with a creole mustard sauce, served with
fresh asparagus and macaroni and cheese sounded yummy, as did the
Macadamia-crusted Mahi Mahi. Available grilled or crusted with
macadamia nuts, with citrus, artichoke and crab sauce, the fish is
served with fresh vegetables and choice of potatoes.
Although I have
favorites throughout the three-page menu, I zeroed in on the third
dish, Pan Seared Scallops and Salmon Medley with Ratatouille Ravioli. I
love scallops, and pan seared jumbo scallops with fresh salmon served
atop ratatouille ravioli tossed in artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and
tomato cream sauce sounded heavenly. All three seasonal dishes were
around fifteen dollars.
One thing I knew
from dining at their cafť: all their food is freshly prepared. Their
mashed potatoes are from real potatoes and their vegetables never come
from a bag or a can.
When my dinner
arrived, the chunks of salmon were huge as were the scallops. Red
tomatoes and green herbs in the cream sauce added color as well as
flavor, and the tangy artichoke ravioli combined with the cream sauce
made an unusual, delicious taste.
dinner, mounds of mashed potatoes and cole slaw accompanied her three
crab cakes. Made with lump and blue crab, the cakes were golden brown
and served with a side of citrus remoulade sauce.
They have a
dessert menu but I had to pass. Crystal showed me their kidsí gazette
with a menu and games. She also told me that while they do not have a
separate senior menu, the kitchen will divide a dish into two portions
without an extra charge. Their iced tea, coffee and soft drinks are
endless, and they offer a wine list as well as cold beer.
And yes, ĎReal
men like quiche,Ē at least at Mimiís where itís baked from scratch and
served with green salad, fresh fruit and a freshly baked muffin.
Truly a family affair.
395 E. HOSPITALITY LANE
SAN BERNARDINO CA 92408
Open 7am-11pm 7 days
Now serving breakfast