Report: Mildred's Temple Kitchen
- Jacquilynne Mar 15, 2009 06:53 AM
The hounds had their monthly dinner at Mildred's Temple Kitchen this month.
Things got started a little late, because everyone had trouble finding the place. It's a toss-up as to whether the new Mildred's or the old Mildred's was harder to find. Also a toss-up, whether it was harder to find the restaurant, or the bathroom once you were in the restaurant.
But let's talk about food.
Appetizers were generally excellent. Lots of interesting flavors, and beautiful dishes. I had the gnudi with bacon which was tremendously good. The whitefish fritters were also excellent, the batter was wonderful both in terms of flavor and texture. I was moderately concerned that the sauce might be a bit too sprucey, since the smell of spruce trees is one I grew up with and which evokes strong -- and not necessarily good -- memories, but really, it was just a nicely balanced tartar-esque sauce.
I also tried the beet salad, but without a bit of the goat cheese so it was just, you know, beet. I also also tried the mushroom salad that came with a mysterious green sauce that turned out to be leek puree. I record that here mainly because we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it was, and eventually had to give in and ask the waiter.
The most popular choice at the table was the pork belly, which I knew it would be, because I've eaten with these people before, and we are drawn to pork belly like moths unto a flame. I decided against the pork belly because I felt pork belly with potato gnocchi might be awfully similar to ricotta gnudi with bacon. And I'm glad I did because the pork belly, which was prepared sous vide, was a real disappointment in my mind. Pork belly should be crispy and salty and wonderful and not soft and flavorless as it was in that preparation. I didn't eat that much of it, just a taste, but I was not impressed.
What I did order was the burger and frites. It was a very good burger, meat-wise, with some slightly mystifying choices topping wise. For one thing, they absolutely ladled on the onion relish and then added fresh onions, too, which seemed like an odd choice. They also ladled on the sauce on top of the burger, and then slapped a whole lettuce leaf between it and the burger so that it never got anywhere near flavoring anything besides the bun, and also squished out the side while you were trying to eat it. The Irish cheddar cheese ended up totally lost in the combination of onion relish and sauce on top. It's a great hunk of beef, but they need to really rethink how they're putting the burger together, at least in terms of volume of toppings. The frites, on the other hand, were smashingly good. Perfectly crisp and nicely salted and mmmmm.
I also tried bits and pieces of various other mains and generally found them very underseasoned. The main part of the main, fish or whatever, was usually okay, but the sides were bland as hell. I also thought the beans under the rainbow trout were undercooked.
Our end of the table decided to split every desserts so we'd have a chance to try them all. The hands down favorites were the sticky date pudding and the bread pudding with figs. The lemon mille feuille (I'm guessing I spelled that wrong) was also very good, I thought -- but I love, love, love lemony desserts like that, right down to Sheriff Lemon Pie Filling from a box, so, uh, yeah, my standards on that type of dessert might be a little suspect. The chocolate desserts were iffier. I did like that the chocolate pot de creme was not super sweet, and I thought the cookies that came with it were lovely, but I thought the profiteroles were kind of pointless. There was so much ice cream in them that the choux was totally lost except as a hint of texture, and they'd have been a ridiculous pain in the ass to pick up and eat by hand.
Friendly, attentive, relatively fast. I do like that they're doing strictly filtered tap water, even for their sparkling water.
Imagine the old Mildred's with its lushness and frescoes. Now imagine the exact opposite of the old Mildred's. Yeah. That. It's a cold (both literally and figuratively), spare space. Functional, I guess, but not pretty, or even particularly comfortable.
I am really surprised by the less than positive reviews of the decor of the new location, especially since most are comparing it to the old location. I loved the drama of the previous location which reminded me of an old -world style stage for operas, silent movies, etc. It was warm and rich with colour and texture. I also like the new place; modern clean lines, more room to get around the tables than the previous location, in keeping with the lofts of the neighbourhood, and I especially love the open kitchen which again reminds me of a stage, centre stage to the room. I enjoy watching the food prep on the oversized island and galley kitchen. The bathrooms are to die for (and clean). I guess I never really thought to compare the 2 different rooms; only similarity I can find is that they are/were both incredibly noisy! With all the money and time spent on creating the new place, I'm disappointed they didn't do a better job with the acoustics.
I agree with you on the burger but disagree with you on the decor. I think it's beautiful and was actually very quiet both times I've been there (mind you it was lunch). The menu in general is disappointing. Miss the old burger and my wife misses the club sandwich. I guess everyone has their favourites - but they need to rethink the burger.
DH and I dined there last week for a birthday celebration. While I like the modern decor, I can see how one might feel they are dining in a cafeteria setting - albeit a very nice cafeteria.
I thought the menu was somewhat interesting, but I do hope they lighten things up a little for spring. Both of us started with the onion/bread soup - which I am guessing is their take on French Onion soup with croutons and cheese (Asiago) in the bowl when it arrives and the broth poured over top from a kettle. The soup was quite flavourful and I did enjoy my first several spoonfuls, but it was extremely salty and wasn't quite as enjoyable near the end. I also found the broth to be oily which I was surprised at.
For mains, DH had the burger which he enjoyed. I don't think he had the same issue as Jacquilynne regarding the toppings, but that is probably because he tends to take most of them off before eating it! While the fries were good, he commented that they were also oversalted. I had a venison special with sweatbreads and gnocchi. I really enjoyed it. The venison was cooked perfectly and the sweetbreads nice and crisp, but again, it was too salty. And I like my food to be well-salted, so there had to be a ton of salt.
For dessert I had the lemon millefeuille as I wanted something light and that might cut the saltiness of the meal. I wasn't as enamoured of it as Jacquilynne - I found the lemon layers had an odd texture and after a couple bites tasted as if they had congealed in the refrigerator too long, and I didn't think the mascarpone quenelle on top added anything to it either.
I do hope that the people at MTK read this and address the salt issue (unless it was just an off night). I would definitely give it another chance, because the food was, in general, well executed.
Tried the rocket & pear salad, gnudi with bacon, the scallops with leeks (one of the daily specials), and a side of brussels sprouts with pear tonight. The rocket salad is the only dish I'd order again. While I liked the gnudi enough, the bacon was extremely salty, and the fried sage didn't seem fried. The brussels sprouts were ok- nothing special and very plain. Our order of frites never arrived.
The scallop I tried was inedibly salty- so salty you couldn't detect the natural fresh/sweet taste of the scallop-I rarely leave food on my plate but I couldn't finish the scallop. Easily the saltiest dish I have experienced in TO.
We let our server know the scallops were oversalted, and she did comp one of three $9 glasses of wine, which was a nice gesture. But $28 for 3-4 inedible scallops (one person at our table received 3 scallops, the other received 4) is ridiculous. Some of the leeks which came with the scallops were cooked,and some were raw. The leeks were also salty.
The olive bread from St. John's Bakery was delicious.
Service was friendly but not exactly professional. Guess they are still working out some kinks.
Decided to have dessert at the Drake instead, after the consensus that our first 2 courses at Mildred's Temple Kitchen were generally disappointing. The lemon tart and sticky toffee pudding at the Drake were tasty (worth the $8 price tag)- the creme fraiche panna cotta with almond meringue & armagnac soaked prunes- not so much. The almonds in the meringue tasted a little off.
As one of the pork-eaters, I can't help but agree with the above assessment. I thought the pork sous-vide to be underseasoned, and could have seriously benefited from nice, crisp, skin. Some sharp-tasting condiment would have been appreciated.
However, my appetizer, which was a warm mushroom salad, was good. Nice textural contrast between the barley and mushrooms. I didn't worry so much about the mysterious green stuff, but I thought it came together. Could have used some morels, but I guess they're out of season, and that's just my own preference.