photo credit: Jakob Layman
Did you know that Brad Pitt has a brother? His name’s Doug. He’s the Goodwill Ambassador for the Republic of Tanzania, and was the first American to ride a bike down Mount Kilimanjaro. And despite all that, he’ll still always be known as Brad Pitt’s brother.
Like Doug Pitt, Mignon has a better-known sibling: Cento Pasta Bar, which pops up during the day in Mignon’s DTLA space, and is our first thought when we have a weekday lunch free and want something fantastic. It might get a lot of attention - but Mignon deserves some, too. This French restaurant and wine bar is a great spot for a relaxed meal Downtown.
Set below street level, Mignon is roughly the size of an Echo Park studio apartment, but with French fashion ads on the wall instead of concert posters, and much better lighting. A large, dark wooden bar takes up most of the space, though it’s more than a focal point - it’s the entire kitchen. Behind it, there’s a single chef with a hot plate and a small oven, and a person pouring wine and telling you about the French jazz singer playing on the speakers.
Like most wine bars, Mignon is an equally great place to bring a date or to sit and read alone over a couple glasses of gamay. The wine list is short, but rotates frequently, and includes natural wines from small producers mostly across Europe - you could stick to the classics with a sparkling option from Champagne, or try something funkier with one from Hungary. There are bottle options under $50, they offer $6 glasses during Happy Hour, and everything they carry comes by the glass, so you can taste as many as you like before you commit.
As for the food, it’s exactly what you want to be eating with wine: various combinations of bread, cheese, and butter. Nearly dish is served with a fantastic, warm baguette - like the snails, the anchovies, and the smoked fish. If you order the jamon serrano sandwich, you’ll watch the chef heap butter onto a loaf of bread, and then cut super thin slices of jamon and pile them on top of that. The escargots come swimming in tiny pools of butter, and are topped with fried parsley and breadcrumbs. And that’s just how you start your meal here.
So yes, the menu at Mignon is definitely French - but it’s also, by French food standards in this city, surprisingly affordable. The $15 cheese board gets you big hunks of stuff like tangy quadrella di bufala and creamy caña de cabra that melts when you spread it on bread, the $9 country pâte is big enough to be a meal by itself, and we can’t think of a better-prepared steak that costs $22.
Those prices have a lot to do with why this place feels so accessible - along with the crowd of regulars who know the staff by name, and the fact that you can linger as long as you want after you finish your meal. Mignon might not have the same name recognition as its daytime twin, but it’s forged its own way. And it didn’t even need to bike down Mount Kilimanjaro to do it.
Even if your feelings on eating pâte are similar to your feelings about driving from Venice to Silver Lake at rush hour, try this one. It’s salty and vinegar-y, and should be spread on top of the fresh-baked baguette.
These butter-doused escargot come out of their shells, and are salty in a good way. Load the escargots onto the accompanying baguette, and then use the rest of the bread to soak up the leftover butter.
Cheese & Charcuterie Plates
When making your cheese and charcuterie selections, there’s only one rule: order the quadrella and the speck. Unlike most cheese boards, you’ll actually get human-sized portions here.
Oeufs En Cocotte (Coddled Eggs)
Calling these eggs “coddled” makes us think that they had a helicopter hen and rooster that never let it leave the house. Really, these are just perfectly-cooked eggs with leeks and cream - we also encourage adding the shaved truffle.
Jamon Serrano and Butter Sandwich
When choosing between a weekend trip to Palm Springs or Santa Barbara, it’s hard to go wrong. We feel the same about the ham and brie sandwich and the jamon and butter one. But we give the edge to the jamon (and Santa Barbara). The bread is served warm, so the butter gets nice and melty on the salty jamon.
Steak and Potatoes
This steak is excellent - and at $22, it also feels like you’re getting away with something.