Saratoga locals fondly remember Beverly’s, a breakfast nook that for many years was tucked in the same block as Caffe Lena and Hattie’s.
In October, Saratoga Springs resident Jeannette Liebers opened Sweet Mimi’s Café & Bakery, her first restaurant, in the same space.
With Mimi’s, not only has breakfast in this town ascended to gastronomic heights, Liebers has totally remodeled and redecorated.
Sweet Mimi’s is chic, uncluttered and gleaming white, with cheery hot coral pink accents that pop out in the neatly folded cloth napkins and in the outfits of the servers.
There’s definitely a feminine vibe, but it’s sophisticated, not frilly, so that men can be quite comfortable.
“This has a real Sarabeth’s feel to me,” says my friend Jeanne as we settle into a corner table under the handwritten menu board.
A savvy Manhattanite, Jeanne recalls when the first Sarabeth’s shop opened in the 1980s on the Upper West Side, peddling gourmet jams that were made on site. Today, Oprah raves about their orange marmalade, and Sarabeth’s cafes dot the New York area.
In the Spa City, Sweet Mimi’s has swiftly become a trendy hangout for Saratoga females.
More about that later. But first, the food.
Pancakes, waffles, omelets and home fries are on the menu, but also prosciutto, fresh tomatoes, goat cheese and locally sourced ingredients, like Parillo’s sausage, made in Saratoga Springs.
And everything, including the granola, is made from scratch under the eyes and hands of Liebers, who specialized in baking and provincial Italian cooking during studies at the CIA and Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.
While the menu changes daily, an Italian Breakfast Sandwich (garlicky spinach, prosciutto, mozzarella and egg) and Roman Eggs are regulars on the list.
I ordered the Roman Eggs, $12.95, an eye-pleasing assemblage, with a generous bundle of roasted asparagus laid on crispy prosciutto and topped with a duet of over-easy-style eggs.
Swiping the eggs with hunks of toasted baguette, I detected Parmesan and pepper.
Jeanne selected Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, $10.95, served with a fresh blueberry sauce on the side, and she also ordered chicken sausage, a pair of hot-dog-sized links for $4.
“I like the consistency, moist but not wet,” she said of the pancakes. “And they are substantial, instead of fluffy.”
Generous Jeanne pushed a small wedge onto my plate. Now, I’m not really into pancakes. Eggs are my thing. But these fancy flapjacks were custardy, with bright lemon notes, somewhat like a cheese blintz.
“The coffee is excellent,” Jeanne added. “And I’m a total coffee snob.”
Mimi’s is known for its buttermilk pancakes and will mix berries, chocolate chips and toasted coconuts into the batter. Cinnamon-dipped Challah French toast is available, too.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Liebers makes Mediterranean Strata, and sources tell me the place is jammed on weekends.
At certain times, Mimi’s is so packed that the noise level becomes a problem, and service, which is exceedingly friendly, slows to a crawl.
When I am eating something really special, I stop talking for a moment and savor each bite because fine food deserves a certain amount of quiet reverence.
On the Friday morning that Jeanne and I visited, there was a mommy tsunami, as the café was flooded with women who had just put their kids on the school bus. The volume of chatter increased minute by minute until it was so loud we nearly had to shout across the small table.
Apparently, sources tell me, this doesn’t happen every morning. Before 9 a.m. and after 11 a.m., the café is pleasantly quiet, with attentive service.
Breakfast on Phila Street can take a bite out of your pocketbook. With tea and coffee, our tab was $34.
Mimi’s charges a little less than one would pay at a “nice” breakfast place in Manhattan, such as Sarabeth’s, Jeanne observes.
Another option is to order two giant homemade biscotti and coffee for $5.95.
On the way out, we admired the bakery case of artfully decorated cupcakes and iced Easter cookies in the shape of bunnies and chicks. Liebers, who has made the café her second home, is known for her oversized chocolate chip cookies.
The owner was posted at the cash register on our visit, and my friend asked if Sarabeth’s was the inspiration for Sweet Mimi’s.
No, she told us. Liebers admitted that she was shocked at the resemblance when she visited Sarabeth’s. As a kind of homage, at Sweet Mimi’s, diners can buy Sarabeth’s jam, along with other select
Does Sweet Mimi’s serve up the best breakfast in Saratoga?
It’s got my vote. Readers of The Saratogian also picked the café for “Best Breakfast in Town.”
While I can’t afford to eat there regularly, Liebers’ cooking has me hooked, and I’ll be back for more.