It is meant to be one of the best cake shops in town, but it seems they don’t think their coffee should compete with their bakery produce – which is not that impressive anyway.
The first time I was told about Mimi’s Bakehouse and its vast selection of cakes, I imagined a small local shop with not much more in it than a table, a few chairs and a huge pastry-case across the room filled with goodness (where would I get such an idea?). Entering Mimi’s was therefore a kind of a shock, and throughout my stay I couldn’t make up my mind whether I was more impressed or disappointed with the place I found myself in.
The venue, spread over two rooms (plus the bakery area), with plenty of seating (including sofas and armchairs) resembled a social meeting spot – and not the innocent-cake-shop type. The decor had a burlesque feel to it: red chandeliers, mirrors in thick, arty frames – and, of course, the three-quarters-naked girls on the wallpaper, all over the place: “One lump or two?”. You get the idea. It was sure amusing to spot the different kinky messages on walls, and it definitely was an original idea that breaks the stereotype of a family-friendly bakehouse – although it could potentially offend some of the grannies visiting with their children. Shame that the other stereotype was also rebutted, as the “vast selection of cakes” seemed to end on the total of three meters of the length of the bar counter – and no, they were not stacked on one-another, maybe apart from the scones (advertised as scrumptious made me feel a bit weary when I noted that they are displayed bang in the middle of the counter where all transactions are finalised – without any cover). Although there were some tasty-sounding options, there was nothing extraordinary on offer, which, I think, is fair enough to expect whenever a “fabulous array” is promised. I had a nibble of their caramel shortbread and a Magic Bar: as much as the first one was better than your supermarket variety, they were both too sweet and not very mouthwatering to my taste.
But, let’s talk about the coffee. After trying my mocha I wanted to criticise the reference to “quality coffees” on the magnificently modest menu (“Titillatingly Tremendous Teas”, “Very Vivacious Vegan Scottish Breakfast” and “Pure and Perfect Porridge”, to name a few of its options). But then I thought about it, and figured that the word quality can carry a lot of meanings. In my case, it had the adjective poor in front of it. The foam was pretty thick and the drink itself very bitter, like I encountered at Harvey Nic’s, for example, although they don’t use Illy beans (I was told by a person who had warned me about Mimi’s coffee beforehand). Again, there was a lot of stirring involved to make the beverage a bit more drinkable, as I watched my partner put sugar in his mocha and wondered, whether I shouldn’t have done the same.
I wouldn’t dare saying that I’ve been around and I know my bit about bakery; however, I am tempted to say that British taste buds are more sugar-friendly than of some other European confectioners. Maybe Mimi’s strikes a chord with its home clientele (as suggested by the Certificate of Excellence and other titles they won – and my English partner who said “It was OK”), but it didn’t wow me – and I do like my desserts.
Verdict justification: Coffee not sweet enough, cakes too sweet – and trying to balance them out didn’t work