548 Palisades Dr., Palisades Highlands
Diners who loved Mimi’s food when she was on 26th Street opposite the Brentwood Country Mart are thrilled that she has returned from retirement and opened Chez Mimi in Pacific Palisades.
The restaurant is in the Highlands Plaza (on Palisades Drive, just north of Sunset), and has a charming interior dining room with a cozy fireplace and a mirrored wall reflecting the soft lighting and table flowers. The neutral beige background color adds to the calm atmosphere, which happily is quiet enough for conversation.
In addition, there is a large, comfortable patio that is perfect when the weather is warmer. In fact, when Mimi first opened last fall, I sat on the patio, and it was delightful.
This time, my daughter-in-law and I thoroughly enjoyed the chicken-liver house pâté spread on crisp thin crostini. The slightly tart cornichon pickles made a perfect accent. Salmon mousse served with velvety crème fraîche, fragrant with dill, was equally tempting.
Next we tried three small bowls of the homemade soups: tomato bisque fragrant with basil; a superb vegan carrot soup with cilantro, ginger and cumin; and a vichyssoise or chilled leek potato soup. Each of them reflected Mimi’s expertise.
In addition to the 18 entrées listed, the low-calorie menu features a grilled whitefish and chicken breast with steamed vegetable ($18.50). However, we went with the leg of lamb with Herbes de Provence ($29.50), and the bouillabaisse ($32.50). The perfectly cooked tender lamb with flavorful herbs was excellent, as were the accompanying mashed potatoes with French green beans. The rich fish-stock bouillabaisse was as perfect as you would expect from Mimi. In the stock was lobster tail, large shrimp, clams and fish, all accented with the fiery-flavored rouille paste. Toast is an important element with bouillabaisse to sop up the rich stock. You don’t want to leave a drop.
Other entrées here include roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary served with a corn soufflé ($18.50); fresh trout with almonds ($19); meat loaf with a tomato-basil sauce, mashed potatoes and carrots ($17.50); breast of duck with black-cherry sauce and wild rice ($28.50); various steaks in the $30 to $36 price range and fresh fish of the day priced from $21.50 to $32.50. There are also frogs’ legs sautéed in butter and garlic ($24.50). In other words, there is something for every appetite.
Desserts are rich and delicious, such as the excellent lemon pie ($9), rich flourless chocolate cake with ice cream ($10/$11), crème brûlée ($8) and even simple fresh berries ($8). A traditional crêpes Suzette is $10.
The restaurant is closed on Monday, but open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 am to 2:30 p.m. Dinner service starts at 5:30 p.m. daily (except Monday). On Saturday and Sunday, breakfast is served from 9 a.m to 11:30 a.m., when the lunch menu starts. Parking is free.
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