The Downtown Los Angeles renaissance continues (minus the occasional corpse found in a water tower), and nowhere is that more apparent than at the corner of 6th and Main where a variety of bars and restaurants have sprung up over the years. Between Artisan House, Cole’s, The Varnish, The Association, Las Perlas, and the new Black Sheep. Slightly hidden behind all these spots is the cute, grab-your-date-and-go French wine bar, Mignon. Of course, I’m loath to call Mignon cute because, well, that’s so literal (the name truly means “cute” in French), but the truth is that Mignon is just so damn… CUTE.
A former dry cleaners-turned-watering hole (look for the chandeliers formed from hangers dangling above), Mignon is first and foremost a wine spot. It’s helmed by Santos Uy, who curates an extensive wine list (keep an eye out for an Austrian wine night on April 11th, call for details: 213-489-0131) and features bistro food designed by Chef Tim Carey of Papilles in Hollywood. Recently I was fortunate to enjoy a media-comped dinner at Mignon where I was able to sample many of the dishes magically conjured up behind the bar (there is no kitchen). After the jump, check out pic of the meal…
Things started off with a cup of sparkling wine. Our lovely server informed us that we would be drinking like the Romans did, ie. without champagne flutes. I felt very connected to history. Also, I was grateful for a short, stumpy cup that I’d be less likely to knock over.
The wine, Pronto, Secco Lambrusco from Italy, was awesome. I know that’s not a typically “wine-y” adjective, but listen, I reserve the right to be inarticulate on a Friday. Also, surprise! It’s a red! It was all very Julius Caesary, etc.
A fine charcuterie board arrived soon after. I don’t remember which meats these were specifically, but they were truly delicious, and I tend to think you can’t go wrong with whatever you order in this realm. Also, the bread… divine.
Some country paté action (or more specifically, paté de campagne). I’m something of a sucker for patés of pretty much any shape or form, and so I was more than happy to nibble away at this over the course of the evening. The peppery crust had quite the bite. Fais attention!!
Probably my favorite dish of the night, a turnip soup. It had a fancier name, but I honestly can’t remember it (there was beaucoup de vin flowing). Don’t let my pedestrian “turnip soup” descriptor turn you off. This little dish with its perfect croutons (from DAT BREAD) was thick, rich, and complex in flavor. Perfect for a cold night, but surprisingly great on a warm spring evening too. I devoured this.
Another solid (and mouth-burning) offering: baked eggs with leeks and cream, a.k.a. Ouefs en cocotte. This might not be ideal for someone keeping an eye on calories, but for everyone else, it’s definitely a one way ticket to a happy place.
A salad comprised of greens grown by one of the women doling out wine all night. This was probably the least successful option. The dressing proved to be too intensely acidic, and the edible flowers too bitter. That being said, I appreciated the fresh lightness of the course and for people who do enjoy bitterness and acid (and there are many that do), this would be an ideal plate.
I believe this was a Riesling chicken. Definitely a luxurious dish that’s reminiscent of a coq au vin or a bourguignon. Certainly tasty (especially with the zingy pearl onions), but I found I enjoyed the lighter fare (the soup, the charcuterie) more.
Another main — not a total success for me, but beautiful to look at.
Things head back in the right direction with a cheese plate that makes me sing. A regular Edith Piaf I am.
Finally, a light, custard-esque, and delightful homemade plum cake hailing from Brittany, simply titled “Lucie’s Cake” (as the recipe has origins in her hometown).
Ultimately, Mignon proved to be a lovely place. People in search of a date destination downtown should happily cozy up to the bar here and let the servers pluck out some wines and cheeses. I can assure you that there was plenty of smooching going on around me.