Gregg Hunter’s Newspace

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Still searching for that certain gift for a special person who seems to have the best of everything? Why not present that lucky person with a dining-out pre-paid guest certificate. There will be no returns or exchanges because one size fits all appetites. This ideal gift idea is widely available in modest or lavish amounts. It’s the gift of good taste and the grateful recipient might even invite the generous giver to share the dine-out experience.

The Palate would love to say “I told you so” because I did. However, it hardly needed a culinary Nostradamus to predict the success of Mimi’s Café at 2925 Los Feliz Blvd.

The family-friendly chain operation virtually had it made from day one. A perfect street-front location with spacious parking at the entrance to an ever-busy Costco shopping center was the key-note to a pop medley of features including a colorful but tasteful ambience, a courteous young staff of servers plus a varied menu. There are three comfy seating areas including what would be a pleasant patio if one could ignore the roar of traffic. The Palate has visited Mimi’s at various hours and has never had a regrettable meal. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food is good, the portions generous and the price is right. On the other hand, I can’t recall either a memorable meal or a dish I couldn’t wait to experience again. Mimi’s is just not that sort of restaurant but sandwiches are thick and salads are crisp with something filling for every appetite. All of the dishes are nicely presented from a menu that includes appetizers to soups and “small bites” specialties as well as pastas, fish and “comfort classics” as well as seasonal dishes plus such sweet temptations as New York style cheesecake or chocolate chip pecan pie .

The kitchen is less than flawless. One morning I waited 20 minutes for a Belgian waffle combo only to find the main attraction lukewarm, less than golden and doughy. Sending breakfast back for another wait with eggs and sausage aboard wasn’t a viable alternative so extra butter and syrup came to the rescue. I wouldn’t chance it a second time, as a great waffle is a rare jewel and I didn’t find it here. Mimi’s has numerous chains from the coast to the Midwest.

If you’re a concert and opera goer accustomed to paying dearly for entertainment and parking at the Music Center, you must pop for an extravagant cup of intermission coffee at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It’s a distillation of a marvelous Dutch brand bean called Douwe Egberts guaranteed to please the palate and drain the billfold.

Location may be the most important factor in choosing a restaurant location but Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant has prospered despite a seedy site on Sunset Boulevard, where patrons must ring the doorbell to enter. Once inside there’s a tranquil garden setting and a menu of delicious, mildly spiced Indian cuisine at modest prices. Paru is an unlikely pleasure worth discovering. Just ring twice and say “the Curious Palate sent us” to dinner at 5140 W. Sunset Blvd.

There are numerous charities ringing holiday bells for donations but the Palate urges you to support the sincere efforts of Food on Foot, a weekly meal program now in its tenth year, on hand in Hollywood on Sundays when they dish out more than 500 hot meals to homeless, disabled, elderly and low income families. The good people at Food on Foot are located at 9663 Santa Monica Blvd. #743 in Beverly Hills and can be reached on line at www.foodonfooot.org.

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The Curious Palate

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