Mignon Review: A Little Belgium in Seoul

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Recently, a reader asked me, "Where can I get a proper salad?" During the hot summer months, it's all a person craves. The reader went on to define what he meant, "I mean dark green, leafy lettuce- not iceberg with brown edges." I think this is reasonable, and I would like to further expound. A salad should not be thinly sliced coleslaw with Russian dressing and corn. A salad should have a dressing should be light and accentuate the leaves- not weigh it down in globs of mayonnaise. Oh, and the dressing should not, SHOULD NOT, be honey mustard or yogurt kiwi. And lastly, the salad should be of decent size.

I went on my search and other than the chicken Caesar salad at the Wolfhound and the salad bar at Seven Springs, I've found the salads to be meager afterthoughts that didn't live up to my criterion. That was until I found Mignon. Mignon, up on the hill next to 3 Alley Pub in Itaewon, has big salads with dark leafy greens and playfully thought out combinations such as, "Prunes and Figs Rolled in Bacon" and "Goat Cheese Salad" which has savory, lightly battered fried cheese. The Mignon Chef's Salad has a tangy, apple mint vinaigrette, rosemary chicken, and grilled eggplant and zucchini atop of mixed greens. And it's big: plenty for two. I feel their Nicoise Salad is their best salad. It is a proper Nicoise. It has olives, tuna, anchovies, beans, and a red wine vinaigrette. Sometimes, classic is best.

Of course, a salad isn't enough to draw a crowd. Mignon also does amazing mussels served with a variety of sauces for 13-16,000 won. There is a substantial pile of bivalve mollusks- again enough to share. My favorite sauces were the Provencale sauce mussels and the traditional Brussels Mussels. The Bleu Cheese Mussels, although they sound nice, didn't have enough bleu cheese flavor for me. These mussels pair well with the parmesan fries and a bottle of wine or beer, which they have a respectable selection of. Their house wine is the Itaewon Les Agraniers for 30,000. I recommend the Sancerre by Pascal Jolivet (80,000).

For main courses, the "1/2 Grilled Chicken marinated with Rosemary and Peperoccino sauce is charming (W25,000). The chicken is moist and well flavored. And I found the steaks to be juicy and expertly cooked. The Tenderloin Steak with Bleu Cheese sauce was my favorite and I would have loved to have had extra sides of the sauce to dip everything in. At 35,000 won, it's a bit pricey for the amount you get; it's enough for one. But then again, I don't think a steak should be shared.

I had the Crème Normandy for dessert. It is an apple crepe dusted with sugar and torched till the sugar caramelizes and served with ice cream. I found it a bit too sweet and the crepe a bit doughy, but my guest enjoyed it tremendously. I preferred the velvety dark chocolate mousse.

Overall, I find Mignon to be a perfect bistro experience. It's great for a date or for a get together with friends. The terrace is charming and the wait staff friendly. They also serve brunch and waffles, which I assume would be done with Belgium flair.

Mignon *** (3 out of 4 stars)
Location: Itaewon, behind the Hamilton Hotel and up the hill from 3 Alley Pub
Style: European Bistro
Hours 11:00am-11:00pm everyday
Phone #: 793-3070, 792-7280
Price: Plates range from 8-35,000 won
Email: mignon.terrace@gmail.com

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