The Pointes seem to have more than their fair share of quaint breakfast and lunch spots; one more to add to their ranks is Mimi's Bistro on Jefferson in Grosse Pointe Park, just a few blocks east of the Detroit border. The charming eatery opened this summer, with a menu influenced by owner Melanie Schridde's German heritage and walls decorated with artwork from her late father. The paintings, along with other homey, personal touches like fresh flowers on the tables, transform the small space into something special; the ambience is a definite notch above the average café or diner.
The bistro's focus is on unfussy, made-from-scratch food. Breakfast offerings are somewhat limited — you won't find a mile-long list of omelets or French toast — but the classic egg-meat-toast combo is present, as well as a basic scramble. Our favorite breakfast is the egg sandwich; two fluffy scrambled eggs on a deliciously flaky homemade biscuit with your choice of a veggie or sausage patty, cheese, pesto, lettuce, and tomato. We chose the veggie patty; it's made with zucchini, and goes great with the pesto. Jutta's pancakes are also worth singling out: Not your typical fluffy American stack, these are thin and dense and wonderfully eggy, with a hint of vanilla. My friend's sole complaint was that she wished the portion of berries and whipped cream accompanying them was slightly more generous.
Although the menu is not strictly German, there are nods to German food scattered throughout. The German potatoes are excellent, served well done with lots of crispy bits, and so flavorful they don't need a drop of ketchup or hot sauce. Potato pancakes are also available, though we didn't get to try them. Adventurous eaters should not miss the schmaltz, a delightful spread made of pork fat flavored with apples and onions, and studded with bits of bacon.
Mimi's lunch menu is more robust, offering sandwiches, salads, soups, and pasta. A standout among the sandwiches is the Mediterranean panino, a vegetarian sandwich with a grilled portobello mushroom, olive tapenade, pesto, and red pepper hummus. All sandwiches come with house-pickled cukes and carrots. If you desire something more on the side, try the cucumber salad, which combines the best of the two usual styles (vinegar-based or sour cream-based) by being both tangy and creamy.
Salads are substantial enough to make a meal of, especially the Reuben Chopped Salad; it's like a chef salad but with the ingredients of a Reuben sandwich (corned beef, swiss, kraut, and Thousand Island dressing). Also available is the omnipresent Michigan salad, with or without grilled chicken; the addition of meat is a very reasonable $2.
If your appetite demands more than a salad or sandwich can satisfy, there are a few hot dishes, like the zucchini fritters, mac and cheese, and a selection of pastas. You can get penne, linguine, or gnocchi with your choice of six sauces. We had to try the "Mel's Famous" tomato sauce, which is slightly spicy and unusually funky from the addition of gorgonzola cheese. We also tried the mushroom cream sauce over gnocchi, which wasn't my favorite; rather than being creamy, the sauce was more like a stick of melted butter, as if it had separated.
Importantly for a breakfast joint, Mimi's serves a darn good cup of coffee. You won't find brand-name soda on the menu, but rather a selection of fresh juices, including house-made lemonade or limeade, or Italian sodas. Apparently smoothies are also available, although we didn't see them on the menu or get to try them.
Upon walking into Mimi's, the first thing you'll see is a display case full of tempting baked goods; plan accordingly and save room for something sweet, or take a treat home with you, like an ultra-fudgy brownie or chewy chocolate-chip cookie.
Coming soon in the space adjacent to the restaurant is the Charles Schridde Gallery, which will feature paintings by the owner's father as well as works by local artists. The gallery will be an added attraction to an already attractive venue, so budget a little extra time on your visit to take in the artwork, and walk away with both physical and aesthetic hunger sated. — mt