Monday, May 14, 2007

Ladies of Leisure - Lunch at Mildred Pierce

Since Mildred Pierce is nowhere near my place or work (or anything) and I was taking the day off to recuperate from the race, Koto and I took advantage of our ample free time and went for lunch. I was wondering what kind of people would be there since it's kind of remote from any business centres and service is only between 12-2pm.

We got there right at the stroke of 12 and the room was empty except for the owners Donna Dooher and her husband, Kevin Gallagher, who were sitting having an early lunch. Quite the celebrity sighting for me. As time went on, people trickled in and the restaurant became a little over half full. The people who came were a mix of business people, retirees, and interesting intellectual types dining alone (in my imagination, they were novelists).

To celebrate the day off, we started with cocktails. I had a Pom Royale, which I've had before but was so good I had to have it again. It's champagne mixed with pomegranate juice and there are little pomegranate seeds floating in it. Lovely. Koto had a Peppermint Paddywagon, which was a minty, chocolatey vodka drink with shaved chocolate around the rim. I tasted a bit and it was pretty sweet and potent.

Koto started with the shrimp and crab cakes. I had them at dinner the other night and they were just as delicious at lunch -- beautifully hot, but not greasy, plump full of shrimp and shredded crab meat, and served on a bed of crispy Thai-like slaw. Delicious.

For our mains, Koto had the Mildred's club sandwich and I had the Clove-scented basmati biryani. What's great about having lunch with your sister is that you can share food. Koto's sandwich was on this really dark bread that tasted a bit like chocolate. It was filled was shredded, smoked chicken, ripe avocado, arugula, tomato, thinly sliced red onion, and garlic mayonnaise. It came with these beautiful, thin-as-paper taro chips. Both the sandwich and the chips were fabulous.

The biryani was complex and full of ingredients. The spiced basmati rice was mixed with dried apricots, currants, cashews, and pumpkin seeds, topped with fig and date chutney, and cradled in a ring made from two thin strips of deep-fried plaintain. The basket of rice rested on a grilled portobello mushroom surrounded by smooth lentil broth. It was perfect and expertly made.

Since this was a leisurely lunch, we shared a 'Pecan not so square', which was a thick, buttery crust topped with whole, fresh pecans and a caramelly glaze. Alongside was yummy whipped cream and a little bourbon butter sauce. Again, it was perfect.

I said it before, but Mildred Pierce is definitely the place you need to take people from out-of-town. They pay attention to every single detail and it's reliably amazing. And not too expensive for the quality. For one appetizer, two mains, dessert, espresso, and two drinks, the bill came to $75 before tip.

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