by Ian McNulty
Mimi’s in River Ridge served its last supper last night — at least in its current incarnation — closing one of the more interesting and unlikely chapters in fine-dining up Jefferson Parish way.
The long-established restaurant underwent a seismic shift in the past 10 months, changing from a reliable neighborhood eatery for Creole-Italian fare (think veal Marsala, seafood pasta, crawfish cheesecake) to a destination for intriguing, ambitious, genre-defying cuisine (think raw oysters with pork belly and fish sauce, Piedmontese steak, blue marlin a la Nicoise). But after taking a summer break late in July, owners David Whitmore and An Vu-Whitmore reopened the place only briefly this week before selling it to a new owner.
Here’s an excerpt from an email they sent to customers today:
All of us here at Mimi's would like to say 'thank you' for having us as your neighborhood restaurant the last nine years, but we have been working on other ideas and making future plans, and we always knew that one day we'd like for these dreams to come true. While we were out of town, a great offer that had materialized before we left started to grow some serious legs, and it was such a good one that we couldn't refuse. We just know that you will embrace your new neighbor just as you've been so gracious to us.
Mimi’s has been in business for more than 30 years, and it was run by the Whitmores since 2001. Late in 2010, they partnered with Pete Vazquez, the former chef/owner of Marisol, which never reopened after Katrina. The results were electrifying. The menu was transformed into a mix of traditionally-prepared regional Italian dishes and truly far-out specials, often featuring Asian flavors and fish that rarely make it into New Orleans restaurants. Here’s my review from May.
There’s no word yet on what the new owners have planned for Mimi’s of River Ridge, but the Whitmores and Vazquez have something new in the works themselves.
They’ll take a break for a bit, Vazquez says, but their intention is to open a new restaurant in New Orleans. He and Whitmore have been shopping for locations along the new Freret Street restaurant row, among other parts of town.