Saturday, May 06, 2006

MiMe’s Café

Emmanuel is a gifted technologist, a proud father and very French. He is also my partner in our new venture, and Friday he took me to lunch at one of his favorite restaurants. Going to MiMe’s with Emmanuel is quite an experience as everyone working there greets him enthusiastically with a “Bonjour Emmanuel!” when he walks in. I’m pleased he agreed to write about MiMe’s and delighted that he is making his first contribution to (at least) one cool thing. Emmanuel writes:

MiMe's CafeI discovered MiMe’s Café (pronounced meem's) in February 1997 soon after joining a startup in located in the same 2000 block of Broadway in Redwood City. Since then, I have been going at least twice a week for lunch, often with colleagues and sometimes with my family.

MiMe’s is a special place; to the inattentive observer it is another restaurant that offers traditional American fare: burgers, pizza, sandwiches and salads. (menu) However, what I always found cool about MiMe’s is that it is a lot more than a restaurant. Behind the counter and in the kitchen is a full-fledged cooking school.

MiMe’s in conjunction with the OICW, a non-profit vocational training center, and with support from See’s Candies, has been offering 16-week training programs in the culinary arts for about a decade. This program offers disadvantaged youth a chance to work hard and turn their lives around. I know from a job experience long ago that working in a restaurant’s kitchen is really hard work, and I am happy that the students have embraced the challenge and become successful. Over the years I have seen many of OICW's graduates working at other restaurants in the area. In fact, just last night I ran into one of them working at OPLS.

They also do a great job with the food, which is prepared under the supervision of Chef Instructor Adam Weiner. Importantly, the ingredients are always very fresh, and the students bake all of the bread (including the burger buns and the pizza crust). Their pizzas are made from scratch and cooked in a brick oven, and my son and I love them. I was happy that Paul enjoyed his too. The buffalo mozzarella, ripe, flavorful tomatoes and whole basil leaves make the Margherita pizza a special treat.

MiMe’s has an awesome vegetarian burger, home made from garbanzo beans, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and other wholesome ingredients creating a patty vastly superior to a typical garden burger. All my vegetarian friends love it, and although I am a meat-eater myself, I have ordered it numerous times. Although I rarely get salad, many of my friends order the Niçoise with seared Tuna or the Oriental Chicken Salad. One tip: if you get a house salad with your sandwich, be sure to ask for the balsamic vinaigrette.

One of my favorite meals at MiMe’s is the Chicken Portabella sandwich. What makes it extra yummy is the melted mozzarella cheese with caramelized red onions. One day I will have to ask Chef Adam to teach me their caramelization technique – I have tried at home and I have not been able to reproduce it with their results. And, on the menu you will also find pasta dishes which are fine, but I’d rather spend my carb allowance on pasta from great Italian restaurants like Incanto.

MiMe’s cusine isn’t fancy, but the food, the atmosphere and a great cause have made me a faithful patron for all these years. At the moment MiMe’s is open for lunch only weekdays from 11am to 2.30pm. However, when the new downtown movie theatre open this summer they will extend their hours and serve dinner too.

For those not familiar with Redwood City, a lot has happen over the last few years and an important phase of the redevelopment project is nearing completion. I encourage you to check it out and stop by MiMe’s for a fresh, simple meal. Perhaps the charm of the staff and restaurant will make you a regular too.

MiMe’s: 2050 Broadway, Redwood City., CA (650) 568-2880