No listed delivery
Reservations by phone
Mon. to Fri. 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sat./Sun. noon to closing
Food: 4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns
Dinner for two, excluding tips, taxes and beverages: Basic, $25; Loaded, $60
By GRAHAM HICKS
The neighbourhood pub is making a come-back.
Not those stuffy, grubby, hole-in-the-wall pubs in that once littered the landscape.
These new ones are beautiful. Million-dollar treatments , all glass and design, with attractive furniture, countertops, open kitchens, and craft beers on tap.
These new “pubs” are family restaurants, operated by experienced hospitality pros. The food is actually more important than the booze.
Century Hospitality group led the way, opening Hart’s Table and Grill on 23 Avenue to service deep Riverbend.
Century’s Rebel Food and Drink then opened, catering to the swish neighbourhoods south of Stony Plain Road on either side of 142 Street.
The Glass Monkey in Lendrum Mall has the same kind of reach.
A new contemporary “gastropub” has sprung up in the most unlikely of spots, yet, as it turns out, a most desirable location.
South of the Whitemud, east of 119 Street, at the corner of 40 Avenue and 114 Street, Mimi’s Restaurant/Gastropub is a complete rebuild of what was once a derelict gas station fronting what was once the equally run-down Petrolia Mall.
Mimi’s is delightful.
Very contemporary, very clean, an open kitchen, a big, beautiful pizza oven and a bar that specializes in on-tap local craft beers.
Petrolia Mall itself has been revitalized with a very busy No Frills grocery store and another community gathering spot in the vegetarian/vegan Good Stock Restaurant.
With two Italians in the kitchen, Mimi’s food is first-rate. Among the standards – the burgers, fries, pizzas, pastas, wings and onion rings – are creative alternatives from chefs Andre Rossi and Matteo Cesarotto..
The “Al Capone” pizza – grilled eggplant, dabs of ricotta and a handful of fresh chopped basil – arrives on a piping hot cheese and dough pizza base, straight out of the great oven.
Tempura-battered deep-fried green beans with a delicate wasabi curry sauce were something different, serving as a group appetizer. You could also go for the venerable Caesar salad, but close by on the menu was a Caprese perfect for summer – fresh sliced tomato, pesto, pitted olives and a lively balsamic glaze.
The rigatoni with meatballs was all you could ask for – a fresh, light, lively pasta with multiple meatballs in an excellent rose (a combo of alfredo and tomato) sauce, a generous cheddar cheese topping with dabs of ricotta all beautifully melted under the broiler seconds before serving.
The lamb kofta skewer – pressed and grilled ground lamb – was excellent unto itself and made even better by an in-house mint/garlic/yogurt sauce. It paid homage to owner Shanaz Rahmani’s Persian roots.
Finally the son-in-law raved about his “classic burger” – on the Happy Hour menu of the day for $10. An excellent burger with all the trimmings on a fresh roll. Adorning the top of the double-deep-fried home-cut fries were delicious, melted pecorino cheese shavings, all served with a superb garlic aioli sauce.
Mimi’s represents much that is good about our city. Owners Shanaz Rahmani and her brother Al Rahmani are experienced hospitality business operators, having once owned the Leduc Inn. The decision to renovate the derelict gas station was also based on community. Shanaz, always in the restaurant, is a long-time community resident. Mimi’s is named after Shanaz and Al’s mother – who lives across the street.
Pride of place and old-fashioned family hospitality effortlessly combines with the first-class décor, the top-notch kitchen and the revitalization of a long moribund neighbourhood mall. Mimi’s is testament to creative and caring free enterprise
“This is a terrific place to bring the family,” said my daughter, helping herself to the fast disappearing Al Capone pizza. “Something for everybody … and nothing disappoints.”
Long expected, but nonetheless still exciting, is the weeks-away opening of four new Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality lounge/eateries in Ice District’s JW Marriott Hotel – the fanciest new hotel in this city since The Four Seasons opened 41 years ago in what’s now Sutton Place.
Kindred Food + Drink, Braven Steakhouse, the Lobby Bar and a fifth-floor cocktail lounge, Alchemy, will all open in August.
Ice District developer The Katz Group is a partner in Oliver & Bonacini, having purchased a non-controlling interest of the expanding Ontario-based hospitality group in 2015.
Already open in Ice District’s city-government tower is a Boston Pizza. Soon to open are downtown versions of Guru Fine Dining and a Delux Burger Bar.