Every Jerusalemite that frequents the Mahne Yehuda shuk (market) knows that Sunday afternoon is not the ideal time to shop for fresh produce. Many of the stalls are closed and most of the vendors receive a new batch of produce on Sunday evening or early Monday morning. By the way, Mondays (and Wednesdays) are also the days on which fresh fish are brought into the market, and both David Dagim and Oz Dagim usually have a pretty good selection on offer. But today, the shuk is much more than just a place to shop. It is home to several pretty cool bars, cafes and restaurants alongside veteran eateries like Azura and the Levi Brothers’ falafel joint and more and more people are coming to the market to simply ‘hang out’ and experience the Jerusalemite vibe. This past Sunday I met my brother and after picking up a couple of loafs of bread at Teler’s Bakery and some butter at Basher’s, we headed over to Mimi’s Bistro, a quaint, strictly kosher and homey Bistro-Café just at the edge of the Market.
After working as a physics and math teacher for several years, Paris-born Mimi Sinai-Sinelnikoff decided that it was time for a change and went to study at Lenôtre, among the leading institutes for patisserie and culinary studies. Eighteen months ago Mimi established the café in the shuk and already Mimi’s has a following of clients from across the country, that come to sample her treats. The menu at Mimi’s Bistro comprises two sections, one with savory dishes and the other with sweet dishes. Following the friendly waitress’ recommendation we ordered a platter of gougeres, classic French cheese puff and a Roquefort and walnut quiche, both are served the house-salad comprising super fresh lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and mushrooms with a potent Dijon based dressing. The gougeres were delicious, the dough is filled with a béchamel-cheese-chive mix and baked to the point where the dough is nice and fluffy on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. I also enjoyed the quiche which had a generous dose of potent blue cheese and crunchy walnuts. Another dish that caught my eye but will have to wait until my next visit was the Oeuf Meurette – a traditional dish the poached egg in an onion and red wine sauce atop toasted brioche.
Before moving on to the sweet section, we had a chance to chat with Mimi for a couple of minutes. “I remember when I was a young girl in Paris. My grandmother would take me to the neighborhood bakery where my favorite dish was a heavenly mille-feuille. I still remember the flavors and textures of my childhood - the baked goods that my grandmother and mother would prepare and this is what I try to recreate at Mimi’s Bistro. I don’t believe in shortcuts, we simply use excellent raw ingredients and follow traditional recipes, of course, here and there, I add a personal touch.” says Mimi.
Overwhelmed by the variety of sweet pies, crepes, waffles, cookies and other treats, we ordered a couple of macaroons, a mini classic bourdaloue tart with pears and almond cream and another boat shaped crispy shell with walnuts and coffee cream. The macaroons were a bit on the firm side but the other two dishes were perfectly made and that touch that Mimi mentioned was definitely noticed. Mimi’s is also the place to enjoy a glass of French alcoholic cider (not apple juice) alongside one of many types of flavored crepes or simply have a cup of coffee with a fresh financier. Next time you are in the Mahne Yehuda area, Mimi’s Bistro is definitely worth a visit.
By the way, Mimi also offers business lunch specials and intimate baking courses.