- Photo by Mark Lee.
Let me state straight off, just so there's no confusion: I would really like to have given this cozy little restaurant a higher score, and would have preferred to have written this review with few or no negative comments. It's the sort of place that, if you're a Francophile like me, you fervently want to fire on all cylinders. I mean, how great is it to be perambulating through Carmel's unabashedly twee Arts and Design District, looking for something other than a pizza or burger to munch upon when, lo and behold, here's a great little French-style café beckoning you in?
Much as I was looking forward to eating here, though, a recent visit failed to live up to expectations. Three of us therefore went for a second time, to give it another try in the hope that the first visit was merely unfortunate. Sadly, this wasn't to be, although we had some good French toast and the coffee was great.
Operated by the mother and daughter team behind Zionsville's Pie Safe, La Mie Emilie occupies a simply but elegantly appointed space on Carmel's newly refurbished Main Street. The breakfast and lunch menu is lengthy, focusing on a wide assortment of delicious pies and classic French sweet and savory dishes. There are crêpes aplenty, traditional salads, quiches and sandwiches. On paper it's mouthwatering, and there's a bit of something for just about everybody.
Eager to dive in to a piece of France, we ordered the croque madame, a quintessentially French ham and cheese sandwich, baked to a golden brown, served with a soft fried egg on top. Sounds simple, but my soft fried egg arrived already broken and congealing on the sandwich, a gooey mess. Nitpicking? Maybe, but for $9.05 I want to break my own egg. In spite of this, the flavors were sound.
My wife's mostly good buckwheat galette came with gruyere cheese, ham and, this time, a hard-cooked fried egg. For $6.30, very good, apart from the not-so-runny egg. Unaware that an eggy pattern was forming, we had also ordered the classic Quiche Lorraine. While the flavor was excellent, the texture was way over-cooked, like a rubbery omelet. Not good. If eggs constitute such a large part of your menu, they should be cooked properly.
A fourth dish, the one we thought would redeem the others, was a "decadent" sweet crepe, stuffed with chocolate ganache and bananas. Sounded great, but the crepe had a dry texture and required a knife to cut it.
These are all simple dishes; for them to work, they have to be done perfectly. I honestly believe that, with a bit of work and attention to detail, La Mie Emilie could turn out some really excellent food. All the components are in place, and I definitely plan a return visit in time.