Sunday, November 16, 2008

First Brunch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen

Today I am mayor of Luckytown because I was invited to attend a soft launch of brunch at the yet-to-be-opened Mildred's Temple Kitchen, Kevin Gallagher and Donna Dooher's beautiful new restaurant in Liberty Village. Kevin knew from my blog how much I loved brunch at the former Mildred Pierce restaurant, so he asked me to come and provide honest feedback. As my guest, I brought my good friend Marcelo, the perfect brunch companion, who has a great palate, mad food photography skills (he took many of the photos in this post), and lives literally next door to the restaurant (envy, envy).

Kevin invited me by posting a comment on my blog, but didn't leave his contact information so I didn't know how to get in touch. I put up a desperate post yesterday saying I would be coming, but didn't receive a response so I was afraid we wouldn't be on the list. I was surprised and flattered that the charming hostesses and lovely manager Jayne McMahon knew me as soon as I mentioned my blog's name (blush).

I met Donna at Eat to the Beat a couple of months ago, but I had never met Kevin before. He was so kind and earnest as were everyone we met there today. I think Donna and Kevin are a wonderful, talented couple who are working incredibly hard to run a high quality yet affordable restaurant where every single patron feels welcome and cared for. I wish them all the success in the world.

I could barely contain my excitement as we looked at the offerings. Devoted Mildred fans will be happy to know that old favourites such as the black currant scones, buttermilk biscuits, Huevos Monty, Veda's Choice, Mrs. Biederhof's pancakes, and Green Eggs and Ham are all on the menu. I know that I should have tried something new, but it's been a long, painful wait this past year so we ordered our usual scones with housemade preserves, biscuits, Veda's Choice, Mrs. Biederhof's Buttermilk Pancakes, and rosemary bacon and sweet fennel sausage on the side. Greedy, greedy.

To drink we had glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and sparkling water, filtered and carbonated in house from Toronto tap water. The large bottle of water is presented on a coaster explaining "Temple's Manifesteau" - their project to use reverse osmosis to produce their own drinking water (flat and sparkling) instead of participating in the wasteful process of buying and serving pre-bottled water. Isn't that great?

First came the black currant scones and biscuits with housemade plum and peppercorn preserves. They are presented on long, white plates unlike the baskets previously used at Mildred's. Both the scones and biscuits were exactly as I remember - buttery, buttery, delicious. The preserves were amazing - chunky pieces of plum with a very subtle peppery taste. Our entrees came lightning fast; even before I finished half a scone.

Is there anything better than a friend who is okay with eating half of an entree and then switching so you can eat a bit of both things? I started with the Veda's Choice, unarguably the best incarnation of Eggs Benedict in the world - the Platonic ideal. Two runny poached eggs on top of luscious smoked salmon, covered in Bearnaise, and sandwiched between two halves of a light, buttery croissant. On the side were oven roasted red-skinned potatoes that are different from the ones I remember at Mildred's, but I actually like them even better.

The pancakes were also exactly as I remember. With the first bite the food memory came flooding back. I love the whipped cream and powdered sugar on top made even better by drizzling on some Lanark county maple syrup. Back at the last brunch in July 2007, I poured the leftover maple syrup in a water bottle and took it home, much to the embarrassment of my companions, but I was so glad I did. It has a light floral quality that I love.

The sweet fennel sausage has a very homemade feel with lots of contrasting textures and a great mix of savoury meat and sweet fennel seed. The bacon was cooked to a nice happy medium with just a touch of rosemary.

To finish we had one shot espressos with raw, coarse sugar. It was the perfect ending to a decadent and delicious meal.

Even though we were starving, we couldn't finish all the biscuits and scones, so they wrapped them up for us in a container made from sugarcane fibers that composts under commercial composting conditions within 45-60 days.

Afterwards, Kevin asked if we had any suggestions for improvement. He wanted to know if there was anything in the experience (music, dishes, cutlery, service, timing) that could have been better. He also shared his simple yet brilliant philosophy that restaurant service must warm and friendly so that people feel free to offer feedback. If the food at a restaurant is fantastic but the service is bad then most people won't come back because they don't feel welcome. Good service, he says, gives restaurants an opportunity to receive criticism and ultimately improve. Isn't that the best? And all that any diner wants, apart from wonderful food, is to feel respected and cared for. Mildred's Temple Kitchen has all those bases covered many times over and they haven't even opened yet.

On our way out, Kevin showed us the cool unisex bathrooms that have closed stalls with sinks in them, so it's like having your own tiny restroom, much like on an airplane. Lights in the dining room next to the bathroom door let you know which stalls are occupied, also very much like a plane.

After saying our goodbyes the beautiful hostesses were already waiting for us with our coats. From start to finish, what makes Kevin and Donna's restaurant stand out is their genuine affection and attention to every detail no matter how small. And the food is flawless as it has always been.

The restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday for final tweaking and will open to the public for lunch and dinner on Wednesday, November 19 with the first brunch the following weekend. The wait is over! Enjoy everyone! And I know y'all want to see the dinner menu, so here it is. Click to enlarge:

Mildred's Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna Avenue, Suite 1
Toronto, ON


shell said...

I want to have brunch too! Darn it all! Why did I leave the city again?

Anonymous said...

Great post! Was thinking of doing brunch here with some girlfriends soon.

You didn't mention cost? How much does it cost for Brunch, approx?
Or if you can tell me the cost of some of the dishes?


k-chan said...

Thanks foodhogger! If you click on the second picture in the post, it will enlarge and you can see the prices. You're going to love it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks k-chan! Looking so forward to trying this out!


I'm now a fan of your blog btw!

k-chan said...

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!