Mildred's Temple Kitchen
By jimb

Long history, new beginnings

Donna Dooher and Kevin Gallagher are no strangers to Toronto’s restaurant scene. Throughout the '90s and early 2000s, the duo owned and operated Mildred Pierce, a beloved restaurant located in the city’s west end warehouse district. In 2008, they set their sights on a new restaurant in Liberty Village, and despite the fact that the economic recession closed many businesses overnight during that time, they decided to stay on course. “The first few years were challenging, it took a while to find a groove,” says Donna. But as the years passed, the area started to grow and people began dining out again.  Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is now beloved by diners city-wide, especially by locals who feel that it perfectly reflects the youthful, vibrant and energetic fabric of the community.

We worship flavour here at the Temple, that’s what we love to tell people. - Donna Dooher, executive chef and co-owner
Doona Dooher and Kevin Gallagher own Mildred's Temple Kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen
The industrial chic interior at Mildred's Temple Kitchen fits the neighbourhood's vibe completely.
Photo by Jim Bamboulis

Art, life and a unique ambiance

Donna and Kevin looked at several different locations within Liberty Village before falling in love with an empty shell of a space that, oddly enough, looked out onto the train tracks. It took several months to turn a concrete box into a bright, clean and minimal, yet warm, 110 seat restaurant (35 on the patio) versatile enough to host anything from brunch to weddings. “We felt that coming into Liberty Village and looking to the future of what was going to be happening here, we wanted to create something that felt a part of this community,” says Donna.

Mildred's Temple Kitchen offers a place where diners can relax and enjoy their meal.
Photo by Jim Bamboulis

Call ahead for the Frank Sinatra table

There are three components to the restaurant all with unique artistic finishes. The front features a bistro feel adorned with a 13-foot mural and an acrylic wave installation next to the bar. The spacious dining area comes with ‘starry night’ lighting and a semi-circular white banquette from a Marlon Brando film long ago. Around since the days of Mildred Pierce, it’s called both the Frank Sinatra table as well as Table 12, and is an homage to the old restaurant. The chandelier that hangs above the table is rolled and punctured Italian stainless steel that is a work of art, built specifically for that table. Further back and adjacent to the beautiful open kitchen, a more intimate, slightly elevated space called The Kitchen Table, is used to host small gatherings.

The Frank Sinatra table at Mildred's Temple Kitchen is an old piece from Mildred Pierce.
Photo by Jim Bamboulis
Sunny side eggs dish courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen.

Classic comfort foods loved by generations

Here, it’s about welcoming people from all walks of life, a throwback to a time when restaurants genuinely allowed you to sit, take your time and enjoy the dining experience. “We provide a return to the table,” says Donna, who as executive chef  describes her menu as approachable, affordable comfort food. Among the favourite dishes known and loved by Toronto foodies is Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes - one of the most popular menu items going on 30 years. Served with wild blueberry compote, Lanark County maple syrup and whipped cream, it’s easy to understand why they’re worth the wait for a table at this restaurant. “Every generation comes along and falls in love with the pancakes,” says Donna, who adds, “they really make people happy, even me some days.”

Mrs. Bierderhof's Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen.
Egg on croissant courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen.

Mildred's is a go-to for dinner, brunch or b'lunch

Another classic dish is the duck confit with waffles, which consists of a duck leg drizzled with wild blueberry and green peppercorn chutney, rhubarb gastrique, topped with a sunny duck egg. Meanwhile, the roast chicken Biryani, on the menu for nearly 20 years, is topped with clove, cardamom and roasted onion sauce, served with basmati rice pilau, honey yogurt and house-made pear chutney. “We have a lot of mashups of flavours represented by our cuisine in Toronto, but they’re also very familiar and approachable comfort food,” says Donna who adds, “I call it farmhouse chic.”

Short ribs courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen.

Fun cocktails, warm environment

Wine or beer pair perfectly with a meal, as do martini’s and Bellini’s, including the Mango Tango Bellini. The Bungalow Island Caesar with vodka and fresh horseradish has been a mainstay for several years. “A lot of our drinks, as well as our menu items are named after characters in the book, Mildred Pierce,” says Donna who adds, “we worship flavour here at the Temple, that’s what we love to tell people.”

Caesar courtesy of Mildred's Temple Kitchen
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