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To get any kind of attention in New York City's totally overrun, ferociously competitive restaurant scene, you usually need either a star chef at the helm, or a carpet-bombing PR campaign, or dumb luck. But one tiny new Manhattan bistro is getting attention from in-the-know eaters not because of any celeb names on its marquee, or any big publicity blitz, or even blind luck (well, just a sprinkling of that). The reason why Top Chef judge and celebrity chef-restaurateur Tom Colicchio, along with so many other members of the food cognoscenti, are raving about Mimi, a modest-seeming French restaurant in the West Village, is simply because of this: Its chef, 25-year-old Liz Johnson, is massively talented, and she's churning out exquisite, can't-find-them-anywhere-else dishes. Plus, she seems to have come out of nowhere despite an impressive resumé she's been working on since age 15.
As GQ's "eater-in-chief" Brett Martin described Johnson's cooking, in an article that named Mimi one of the best new restaurants of 2016: She's "canny enough to know her trends—there's a tête de veau dressed with honey, sesame, and roast garlic that could be served at Momofuku—but it's her twisted takes on more classic cuisine that stand out." You might find dishes like her Parisian gnocchi with sea urchin, white asparagus and sesame; or the pot-au-feu sandwich with oxtail broth; or escargots vol-au-vent with ramps (pictured below).
Tom Colicchio told The Feast that Mimi, with its "throwback food," happily "reminded me of NYC in the '80s —that’s when I first started working in the city." He added, "It's cool to see that a 25-year-old is doing this: solid good food, not bells and whistles. I had an excellent meal there." He was impressed by his entire dinner there this summer, and particularly "a really good sole dish with mushrooms and summer squash."
Johnson's menu, handwritten in French, changes constantly, but some of her current simple-but-sublime dishes to look out for include soft-shell crab with ris de veau (sweetbreads); and Madai (sea bream) with brown butter and lemon (pictured below).
And here's one Mimi specialty you'll definitely want to plan on: "Between midnight and 2 A.M. Thursday through Saturday, the kitchen serves only spicy-merguez-and-French-fry sandwiches, on baguettes—a classic late-night Parisian tool for alcohol absorption," writes GQ's Martin. "I'm honor-bound to report it also makes an excellent dessert."
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