Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mildred Pierce is closing. Eat like there's no tomorrow!

Well, maybe I'm being a little melodramatic. According an blurb in the Toronto Star, it is more like they are moving to another location in Toronto in order to reinvent themselves. They say that they will transport the cooking school (Cookworks), brunch, and other positive aspects of Mildred Pierce to the new place. So, it's not really goodbye. More like, see you in the fall.

In any case, we went to Mildred Pierce tonight to celebrate our dearest Louis' birthday and we justified the amount of food we ate and the choices we made by saying, "well, they're closing soon, so this is our only chance."

Darryl and I both arrived a bit early, so we had some pre-dinner cocktails. Darryl had a pomegranate margarita and I had something called a Pom Royale, which was pomegranate liquor and champagne garnished with pomegranate seeds. It was the most beautiful drink. The bubbles from the champagne made the ruby-coloured seeds rise to the surface and slowly fall again like a pretty pink lava lamp. The pomegranate didn't lend much flavour to the drink, but I'm sure its antioxidants did great things for me.

While we were poring over our menus, we were served the best bread. I had one small grainy, nutty piece and a larger white slice with the most perfect crust. It was so crispy that it almost felt carbonated, if you can imagine. It disintegrated into nothing as soon as you bit into it. Amazing.

When I was studying the menu online at work, I was msn'ing with Diane and asking her if it getting an appetizer in addition to a main would be too much food. It turned out that I ordered an appetizer, a main, two sides to share with the table, and dessert.

For my appetizer I had shrimp and crab cakes, which were divine. Each cake was a Timbit-sized, satisfyingly dense portion of minced crab and shrimp with a crunchy bread coating. They came with a slaw of carrots, red pepper, mango (maybe?), and onions in a sour Thai-like sauce. Flawless.

For my main I had the Cumbrae Farms striploin medallions with shiitake mushrooms and rapini. I had heard a lot of good things about Cumbrae Farms so I wanted to see what their meat was like. I ordered my steak rare so that I would get the best cut possible (cooking masks flaws, so if you order rare, you tend to get a better quality piece). I had thought that medallions would be small, round pieces, but it turned out to be one large (at least 8oz) slab. I have to admit that I wasn't impressed with the meat itself. There was quite a bit of tough gristle (that silvery kind that doesn't break down) and chewy fat. It was a nice rare though. Sadly, both the mushrooms and the rapini were unbearably salty, so I couldn't enjoy them. Maybe this isn't the best main to order.

On the side, we shared an order of grana padano and gremolata risotto and an order of shoestring frites with rosemary. The risotto was magical. I made some risotto at home a couple of days ago and I didn't know if I made it correctly. I wanted to try it at at place where they really knew what they were doing. This risotto was incredibly creamy and the rice was soft and delicate, yet it still maintained its texture. The gremolata lent a subtle, but distinctive lemon taste. Swoon. The frites were itty bitty like Hickory Sticks, which made them difficult to pick up with a fork, but they were tasty with a hint of rosemary.

After all that, you'd think I'd had enough. And I did, but there were profiteroles on the menu so what could I do? Michael and I shared an order and it came with three generously sized cream puffs stuffed with Lindt chocolate ice cream, smothered in chocolate and caramel sauces. We both thought that each profiterole had a different flavour of ice cream, so we were trying to figure out which was which when in reality they were all identical. It's funny how difficult it is to identify a flavour based on taste alone. All three were delicious.

By the time we left, the place was hopping. Every table was full. Mildred Pierce is a real success story. It's an out-of-the-way place that no one would find unless you knew where it was, but they are still packed on a Wednesday night because the food is reliably spectacular. If you want a guaranteed delicious dinner with excellent service, this is where to go. Get your fill before July 31.

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