Mimi’s is a grand pastel-hued fine-dining restaurant on the middle floor of busy Coogee Pavilion. The CEO of Sydney hospo group Merivale, Justin Hemmes, floated the idea to executive chef Jordan Toft in LA and six years later it became a reality – a vast handsome space that also houses two other distinct venues: cocktail bar Will’s and wine-and-tapas bar Una Más.
There’s a lot going on here – much beyond its good looks. Starting with the serious nous in the kitchen. Toft is joined by Jacob Davey, who was head chef at fine-dining CBD eatery Est, which shut in 2019. Jeff de Rome was head chef at Kitchen by Mike, while Mimi’s venue manager, Martijn de Boer, was previously general manager at Bentley.
Request a serving of oily black caviar and it’ll be wheeled to your table on a cart. The wait staff will pour you a nip of vodka from a bottle encased in a hunk of ice, dip a mother-of-pearl spoon into a tin of Black River caviar, then pile the bump of briny goodness onto the back of your hand. It’s not just a gimmick – the warmth of your body actually raises the caviar to the ideal temperature. When that change has occurred (wait a couple of minutes), you take a sip of the ice-cold vodka and consume the caviar in one hit.
The rest of Toft’s menu draws from the Mediterranean, but places its ethos and ingredients firmly in an Australian context. The highly skilled kitchen makes all the vinegars, breads, cured meats and butters (there’s a kefir butter to go with the sea urchins, for example), and the seemingly simple dishes belie the complicated culinary techniques. (Case in point: the cannoli that’s made from a labour-intensive process involving leftover bread.)
From the snack menu, you should absolutely order the blacklip abalone skewered on bay leaf with pancetta, which is barbequed on the custom-made Josper grill. Add in a roasted chicken skin cooked crisp and then smeared with anchovy bread sauce, as well as the fried bun filled with squab, and the puff pastry arlette (thin biscuit) served with warm d’affinois (double-cream soft cheese).
The roasted whole John Dory is deboned at the table and served with a silver gravy boat of sake butter. If you’d prefer something vegetarian, get the salt-baked butternut squash, which arrives with similar tableside theatre. The pipis come in a pancetta broth with pici (thick, hand-rolled pasta) and tiny bit of chilli. (Sydney does pipis well; this is a good addition.) And if you’re rolling with a crew, get the mud crab or the roasted suckling pig (for two people or more) served with finger-lime salsa.
It’s easy to drop some serious cash at Mimi’s. And while it’s not essential to order a cocktail made with rare spirits, it sure is fun. The bar managers Sam have tracked down unopened bottles of booze from across the globe, which they’re using them to make drinks. (It’s not a new concept; London’s Rivoli Bar at the Ritz does it too.)
These drinks change as different spirits come and go, but when Broadsheet visited, we tried an Old Fashioned made with Jim Beam bottled in 1974, and a Rob Roy made with Chivas Regal (circa 1970) and 1975 Rosso Antico.