Mitch Wolfe Worships at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen for Sunday Brunch in Liberty Village

Many friends of mine have been extolling the virtues of Mildred’s for years, especially its legendary Sunday brunch.

When it comes to fancy Sunday brunches, I am generally indifferent. Agnostic. But this past Sunday, friends of mine encouraged me to tag along. Why not? And I became a true believer. A convert. Definitely a happy member of Mildred’s Temple.


Mildred’s is located in the King/Dufferin area, amidst a forest of steel + glass condominiums, aka Liberty Village.

In the middle of this high rise condo village is a ‘village square’ of sorts. Anchored by a 24 hour Metro grocery store, bakers, candlestick makers, Nike, a Shoppers Drug Mart, banks, hair and nail spas, and Mildred’s.

Mildred’s is very airy, high-ceilinged and cool with an open kitchen in the middle, for all to see. Sunday brunch is from 9am to 3pm. Waits are at least one hour+ to get a seat and no reservations are taken. First come, first serve. Recommended 9am at the opening bell if you want a seat.


Unfortunately, my friends had had a late night the night before – some random dude’s birthday party. Apparently many vodka sodas and straight whiskeys, well into the morn, had pushed our brunch to 2pm.

Silver lining for my friends, Mildred’s rocks as great comfort and hangover food.

So we arrived at 2pm and as expected, there was at least a 60 minute wait.

But my friends were smart, they grabbed some chairs at the bar and ordered a single pancake special with The Bungalow Island Caesar (Iceberg Vodka, Mott’s Clamato juice, signature rim, curly celery and fresh horseradish to cure the hair of the dog).

(See photo of Mrs. Biederhof’s Legendary Light & Fluffy Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake served with Lanark County maple syrup & whipped cream.)


Since the single pancake was so large and fluffy, and just oozed decadent whipped cream, blueberries and maple syrup, they just shared a single one. Sort of a pre-brunch, like a pre drink, before the main event. According to these two, this buttermilk pancake was heaven on a plate.

Our initial server Kaitlyn was just a doll. So upbeat, attentive and empathetic. My two friends, still suffering from the throes of a major hangover, sought Kaitlyn’s professional advice on how to combat such a debilitating hangover.

Dr. Kaitlyn wisely steered them away from morning mimosa of Spanish Cava and orange juice to hot black coffee, which seemed to do wonders.

Within 45 minutes, hostess Margo helped us to our table and we were handed off to Calvin, also an excellent server.

Calvin was so upbeat and helpful. He recommended to my two friends Veda’s Choice – Mildred’s classic poached eggs on a flakey croissant. One chose the rosemary bacon option while the other chose smoked salmon. Both topped with Béarnaise sauce and served with mixed greens. (See photo of this Mildred classic.) This dish was a huge hit with my friends. The 45 minute wait was clearly worth it.


For my part, someone had to show some calorie-counting discipline. I had Mildred’s famous house-made crunchy granola with toasted honey oats, macadamia nuts, dried apricots, currants, cranberries and a hint of ginger, topped with yogurt and fresh seasonal fruit. It was delicious, hit the spot. And I could respect myself in the morning.


Calvin was a gem. He anticipated all our strange and unique needs. One of my friends, was vegan-lite and required constant refills of Almond milk as opposed to skimmed milk. And she made other organic and natural demands. Calvin handled all these requests with aplomb and equanimity.

And he kept magically appearing out of nowhere, to refill our steaming hot cups of Java.

In short, the afternoon brunch service at Mildred’s Temple, was short and sweet. We were uplifted by the service, the ambience, and the food, of course. Thank God, no sermon was necessary.

Alex Rad: The BBQ King on Queen West Smoques the Competition

Alex Rad’s BBQ emporium and craft cocktail haven “Smoque N’ Bones” on Queen Street West blows away all his Toronto competition.

For those who know and have read me know that in the past I was a huge BBQ gourmand. More accurately, a BBQ glutton. A raunchy pork rib porker. A pulled pork pundit. And a crazed beef brisket banshee.

mlw and alex

I used to stalk the Stockyards on St. Clair and constantly blacken the door of the Black Camel near the Rosedale subway. Sometimes I would travel way across town to deepest, darkest Parkdale, grow some facial hair and don a hoodie for Electric Mud BBQ, all for its crispy, juicy pulled pork sandwiches.

Most recently, due to doctor’s orders, I’ve gone veggie lite.

Recently I have fallen off the pork/rib chuck wagon, having fallen in love with a very rad “Smoque N’ Bones”.

Truth be told, I have gone several times to “Smoques” and every time, it was better than the last visit.

I have tried most of the delicious meats and sides. My favourite is the sampler. A choice of three meats and three sides.

I love the pork ribs. Smoky, tender, succulent and juicy. More slow bite, savour and chew, than fall off the bone.


No question, Alex Rad’s southern smoker delivers the goods. The awesome ribs are served naked, just the way I like them as does most rib aficionados. I hate them pre-slathered and over-slathered with unnecessary BBQ sauce. Smoques supplies you with your own glazing brush and extra BBQ sauce so that you can apply its house-made sauce as you like it.

Pulled pork is hard to pull off, but chef Alex does it with great aplomb. Roasted daily for about 14 hours, the pulled pork, sans bun, is moist, soft, flavourful and the tangy, smoky sauce complements without obscuring its zesty taste.

The beef brisket is not like my dear old mom used to make – thanks goodness! In this case, the brisket is insanely moist and surprisingly scrumptious. It is must be chef Alex’s secret smoking and sauce. Also, the extra subtle layers of fat jumpstart its juiciness.

Smoque’s sides are a misnomer. Supporting actors, they are not. They can easily stand on their own, as full meals in themselves.

Feeling guilty about my non-veggie binging, I naturally gravitated to the crisp collard greens, candied yams and caramelized onions and brussel sprouts. They were all excellent. And seemingly healthy.

Unfortunately, that diet-conscious ship sailed a long time ago. On subsequent trips to Smoques, I macked out on the creamy mac and cheese and then dove head first into the devilishly delicious buttermilk onion rings and obscenely fine waffle sweet potato fries.

Aren’t sweet potato fries supposed to be healthier than your run of the mill greasy French fries?

But by my third visit to Smoques, who gives a flying fry? I was mainlining those earthy subtle sweet potato fries, fried to a perfect crisp, dipped in chipotle mayo, directly into my thickening thighs. Oh well.

Don’t get me started on the addictive pecan pie with Bourbon Crème Anglaise!

Chef Alex had to cut me off at two servings of that Bourbon-infused pecan pie or I would have been pecan pie impaired.

But man cannot live on Smoque’s bread pudding alone (with intoxicating Bourbon sauce).

True, the food is the thing, but what drives me back on a regular basis to Smoques, is the people and the service.

Chef/owner Alex, a former Bay Street financier, is the heart, soul and driving force of Smoque N’ Bones.

But he has also surrounded himself with a tremendous group.

The beautiful and extremely competent Lexa, is Alex’s “go to” person. She has worked closely with Alex from the outset and has helped him define and implement his vision for Smoques. Also I understand Lexa assisted Alex in renovating the second floor into a really cool, open bricked, original barn wood floor, smoky, retro “old school” cocktail bar.

Lexa also prepares, slices, dices and serves the meaty entrees with skill and experience way beyond his years.

There is also the lovely and warm Vanessa, who works the front and ensures that every patron is always satisfied.

Vanessa also on occasion mans the upstairs cocktail lounge. She is a true artist and cocktail craftsman.

I am not normally a bourbon, vermouth or gin drinker but Vanessa’s Marakesh and Wild Rose crafted cocktails went down oh-so-smoothly.

In big, bad and often personally cold Toronto, Smoques is truly a place where they always know your name and treat you like family. Actually, better than family.

I guarantee you will first go for the food, but you will keep coming back because it is like a second home, for us urban dwellers who are constantly searching for a place with great food and a staff who genuinely enjoys your company and can’t do enough for you.

In short, this is a great Smoque N’ place!!!

smoque 5smoque1smoque2

Mitch Wolfe Reviews Daniel Boulud’s “Café Boulud” in the Toronto Four Seasons Hotel

Internationally-known French Chef Daniel Boulud re-launched his renovated Café Boulud at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. And this second act really builds and soars.

About seven months ago, Daniel (we are on a “connus juste par un prenon” basis) reopened his eponymous French bistro for us local epicureans.

This place is simply magnificent – in a very informal, comfy, stylish, subtly Parisian sophisticated way.

This modern French brasserie was conceived by the designer du jour, Swedish-born and London-based Martin Brudnizki. Café Boulud contains many of the same signature flourishes that are on display in Brudnizki’s other killer London restaurants, namely Annabel’s, Le Caprice, Dean Street Townhouse, Hix and of course, The Ivy.

cafe boulud- bar

Seductive lighting, comfortable seating in two-toned brown and green leather banquettes. A long, beautifully lit marble bar, usually populated with beautifully-coiffed and toned, TIFF-ready femme fatales.

(And their Bay Street banker dude escorts.)

Unique sensual and surprising artwork compliments and sets the scene. A drop dead gorgeous photo of the lovely Grace Kelly on one wall. A whimsical photo of a smiling Einstein on another wall. Fun and sexy and oh-so-smooth.

The service is warm and friendly, reflecting the very comfortable ambience.

At the entrance I was greeted not by just one captivating hostess, but by a team of three lovely women. My favourite, of course, is the lovely Wintana, who adroitly showed me to my table and in one seamless action, checked my trusty laptop, briefcase and my sturdy Burberry coat. (It was now the cool beginning of spring in the “6”, yo.)

Wintana 2

I am not the easiest of customers – I called in advance on short notice. And though the place was packed, the hostesses found me a lovely banquette for the Bleu plat special at 6pm. One friend was joining me at 6:30pm and another friend was joining us at 8:30pm. So we were graciously accommodated with an intimate banquette pour trois.

Then a team of waiters was at my beck and call.

Diet Coke with a chaser of sparkling water magically appeared.

The atmosphere was definitely electric and the dinner crowd was eclectic.

A few tables to my left was a striking blonde woman, a Kate Hudson-lookalike with an infectious laugh, and her attentive beau.

To my right, a quiet multi-generational Asian family, consisting of proud parents, beaming grandparents and unusually well-behaved two year old twins.

Next to me was a very youthful married couple, Paul and Candy, about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

And the food: sublime.

My friend and I shared the Beignets de Calamar (slightly beer battered calamari, subtly drenched in pickled hot pepper and spicy kaffir lime sauce). Wow. The various spices and flavours popped unexpectedly on the tongue.

cafe boulud calamari

I am a connoisseur of grilled calamari. This was the best in Toronto. Better than Terronis’ own signature grilled calamari.

I also had the Kale Grille and Romaine salade. It was marvellously presented – a tiny perfect mound of grilled kale, romaine, carrots, cumin, black olives, golden raisins and infused with spiced yogurt dressing. The secret was the beautifully grilled part and the spicy yogurt.

I eat a ton of kale on a weekly basis. Practically every day. Kale is normally rough. Not that tasteful. But this grilled kale with the spicy yogurt dressing and other ingredients was so delicious that I almost forgot that it was healthy for me.

cafe boulud grilled kale salad

My friend is a connoisseur of steak tartare. She had Café Boulud’s Parisian steak tartare – prime Angus beef, surrounded by crisp Romaine lettuce and drenched in pickled condiments and a light mustard egg dressing. This dish was elaborately prepared in front of us! My friend opined that this was the best steak tartare she had in Toronto in a very long time.

Our neighbours in the next table, the very youthful and fun couple, in their 70s, permitted me to photograph and taste their Quenelle de Brochet, a Lyon-style northern pike quenelle swimming in a heavenly Cognac lobster sauce.

Daniel, our chef, hails from the Lyon region of France. Pike quenelle or fish mousse dumpling, is a French culinary classic. Our very well-informed server explained that such a way of cooking and presentation was the traditional way around of removing the pike’s numerous primary and secondary bones. I did not know that.

cafe boulud- quennelles

Candy, my neighbour was totally taken by the quenelle. Its texture, its flavour and Cognac lobster sauce.

She found the dish intoxicating and surprisingly aphrodisiac.

I joked with Paul, her husband, that they were such a happy couple. It was as if they were on their fifth date, with romance very much in the air. I suggested to Paul that tonight he might get lucky.

Fortunately, Paul and Candy were good sports and laughed at my fish mousse-inspired musings.

Then quite unexpectedly, two more friends showed up for dinner. Unfortunately our table was for two and not for four. I told you that I was not a low-maintenance, undemanding customer.

Fortunately, the staff was extremely attentive to our plight and deftly moved, we party of four, to a lovely corner banquette.

Our two friends immediately ordered the Steak Frites, medium rare. A flat iron eight ounce steak, with sauce béarnaise, pommes frites and gem lettuce with shallot dressing.

Classic French bistro fare.

The steaks did not disappoint. They were great. And the golden, crispy, European style, frites, were irresistible.

The evening was topped off with the head bartender, Shannon, providing his signature drinks.

cafe boulud shannon

Shannon has an apparent “Masters in Mixology”. He also has a very professional deft touch. With both liquor and the Café’s thirsty patrons at his long marble bar.

He is a master of the Mai Tai. And a smash with his watermelon smash. The former – a unique blend of dark rum, orgeat, lime, bitters and mint. The latter – an oh-so-smooth grapefruit soaked vodka, with basil, watermelon and soda.

But then Shannon, saved the best for last. His “Led Zeppelin” really rocked the house: tequila, amaro nonino, aperol and a dash of lime. My friend said that this drink, as in Zeppelin’s classic “Stairway Way to Heaven” starts slow, builds and then hits you with a wild hard rock finish.

Here’s a YouTube link to that amazing song:

Much like Boulud’s bistro.

Boulud’s vision is for his restaurant to serve a seasonally changing menu rooted in French tradition, highlighting both bistro classics and contemporary dishes inspired by his own family meals in Lyon.

To date, the team at Café Boulud have far exceeded expectations. The full house every night is evidence that atmosphere, service and food are resonating with many of us hungry travellers.