I vividly remember when I first learned what lamb really was. I was on the second floor of my parent's yellow clapboard house. I'd fled there, to the room that was my playroom, that would become my teenager computer room hideaway, that's now where my parents keep a treadmill, various exercise bands and the laundry they've set out to dry. I was weeping, back pressed against the thick wood door with the worn metal handles, vowing over and over through stuttering sobs that I'd never, never eat a fuzzy, baby sheep ever again.

That all changed at one meal at MIMI, a tiny French bistro on Sullivan Street, between the vehicular mayhem of Houston Street and the violet- and vomit-tinged thoroughfare of Bleecker Street.

No doubt anyone who reads, say, the Times or GQ has heard of the upstart restaurant, which opened quietly last fall. The chef, Liz Johnson, while pedigreed at Empellon Cocina, was largely unknown at 25. All of that changed in the past six months; since then, MIMI has become something of an impossible-to-secure table—unless dining during Early Bird hour or closer to the stroke of midnight appeal.

A photo posted by Jimmy (@jimmyw58) on

Johnson and her team brine the lamb first, tenderizing the meat and infusing it with a deep savoriness. It's then braised until the meat is barely able to remain intact. Gentle probing with a fork and the whole thing falls apart, leaving a clean bone and a heap of tender shank meat swimming in a pesto made with nettles. On the side, a creamy block of potatoes dauphinoise, rich with cream. It's all divine and earthy and funky and unbelievably flavorful. I'm so sorry, little baby sheep, but it's not my fault you are delicious.

There's not much not to like at MIMI, and though prices are higher than your average bear, the portion sizes are generous and the food exquisite enough to justify them. Definitely order the pork rillettes, if they're serving it that night (the menu changes frequently). Pigs are supposed to be highly intelligent and adorable, too, but damn if they're not tasty spread out over toasted bread with mustard.

185 Sullivan Street, (212) 418-1260; miminyc.com