Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna Avenue
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $50
I am a student of the theory of dressing up to go out. Maybe it’s because I work from home and yoga pants and a t-shirt are my regular uniform, but I always find it appropriate, when going out into the world, to make a bit of an effort. Some make-up, a cute outfit, polished shoes. It makes me appreciate a nice place so much more, and there are some restaurants, whether because of the architecture and design, or just the food and service, where it feels that one should dress up.
Not everyone shares my philosophy on this issue, however. So while I’ve pulled together a groovy 60s inspired-outfit to have brunch in the gorgeously cool Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, the rest of the clientele is still arriving in ugly flip-flops and cargo shorts. People in Toronto really don’t dress up for brunch, do they? At the very least, most of the gentlemen wearing hats have the courtesy to remove them when they’re seated – all except for one hipster douchebag who continues to wear a brown wool toque (it’s August, buddy, come on!) throughout the meal. Even the little boy who came in wearing a baseball cap has removed his headgear at the table. Stupid hipsters, making life ugly for the rest of us.
I gripe because I really believe Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is deserving of more respect. Chef/owner Donna Dooher and her team have put so much work into perfecting every aspect of the experience that it feels appropriate to make an effort in return.
We start with coffee ($2.50) and an order of the famous blackcurrant scones ($5). They’re still warm from the oven and the sweet butter melts into the pastry.
The airy room fills up fast for brunch and gets a little loud as the chatter and clatter bounces off the concrete floor and huge north-facing window. Trains rush past silently, and but for the tops of a couple of in progress condo towers, we could be looking out at a field in the country. Birds and butterflies flit by, huge milkweed plants teeter in the breeze and brunch at Mildred’s is mildly surreal.
Speaking of surreal, green eggs and ham ($9) is an exceptionally fun way to start a Sunday. Green eggs (spinach, we’re guessing) are light and fluffy, and are paired with sweet ham, the flakiest biscuit we’ve ever had (seriously, the biscuits are also offered as a side, and they might well replace the scones on our next visit), and a funky salad topped with both sweet corn kernels and popped corn.
Mrs. Beiderhof’s pancakes ($13) are a stack of three super fluffy blueberry buttermilk pancakes, topped with whipped cream, maple syrup and blueberries. I added a side of bacon ($4) to this and was presented with a plate with half a pig on it. Okay, not really, but that was a serious serving of tasty rosemary bacon.
That same bacon shows up in the salade Lyonnaise ($12) we have during another visit, cut into lardons and mixed with wild mushrooms atop a fried egg and frisee salad.
A croque monsieur sandwich ($14) with Quebec cheddar, chicken and scallions also pleases, with the exception of the small chicken bone the hungry husband gets on his first bite. There’s a flurry of apologies and the dish is removed from the bill, despite the fact that it gets finished off, minus the bone, of course. And while such a mistake shouldn’t happen in a restaurant (and they’re lucky we’re not complainers), it’s an easy mistake to make, as the hungry husband himself does exactly the same thing when cleaning off a chicken carcass at home a few days later, leaving me with a bone in my chicken sandwich as well.
Service is attentive and friendly on both visits, although as the place gets hectic, our server accidentally brings us a second order of scones. And despite our gluttony, we advise him of the mix up and let him take them away.
Despite the toque-wearing hipster, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is still the kind of place where people make an effort and are on their best behaviour. Unlike other brunch places in the hood, diners with kids are keeping their children occupied at their respective tables, not letting them run around as if the place is a daycare. There are people besides Greg and I who have made an effort to dress nicely, if not necessarily “dress up” in a ballgown and suit kind of way. It’s not obligatory, of course, no one says anything to the guy in the hat or the people in the ratty t-shirts, but they look out of place in this magnificent space with this superb food. Here’s hoping Mildred’s inspires them to try harder.