Beware of specials that sound too good to be true, because they usually are

For example, a friend and I were Costco bound on Los Feliz when we decided to make a late lunch stop at the adjoining Mimi’s chain restaurant. We both had dinner plans, so we opted for a soup or salad and half sandwich $8.50 special. The small house salad my friend got was sparse and ordinary, but my cup of French onion soup was hot and tasty (despite a chunk of seasoned bread in lieu of cheese.) Then came sad sandwiches with chips of turkey and ground nuts, which amounted to a teaspoon of dust. There were heaps of lettuce on dry, cold toast sans any source of dressing. Add iced teas, tax and gratuity for negligent service, and we departed the bright and cheerful setting in a glum humor. It wasn‘t even “just enuf.” The Palate has frequently enjoyed and reported favorably on regular menu meals at Mimi‘s, but I stand by my warning. You really do get (something close to) what you pay for.

Way back when I was a skinny drama student in New York City, I discovered a piano lounge in the Village where a remarkable but unheralded entertainer played and sang standards and show tunes, including all the verses. There was no cover charge but the place had a two drink minimum. I was not into cocktails but drank milk shakes with a raw egg, so a foamy concoction being served caught my eye and I eagerly ordered “two of those,” which proved to be a Brandy Alexander. The bartender had a real knack and I could sit and sip for hours of grand music and lyrics for $4 plus a couple of bucks to the performer. That was then!

I hadn’t found an equal Alexander anywhere until recently, when I was sent a formula all the way from Rome, which I mixed at home and, voila, it was easy and really delicious. So I share this sweet treat with you, my favorite reader.

You’ll need 1 ¾ oz. Cognac, 1 ½ tblspn brown crème de cacao, plus 1 tblspn heavy cream. Place all in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with grated nutmeg, turn up the stereo and enjoy!

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