85 Hanna Ave, Toronto (Liberty Village)
Waiting time: 2 hours
Much like a vast and airy temple on a cold and windy day, the aptly named, Mildred’s “Temple” Kitchen is a cold place. In atmosphere (cafeteria-like with concrete floors, hard plastic chairs, raggedy coir-esque mats, drafty) but especially in service.
I have no patience for bad service. No matter how good the food may be, if customers are not treated with respect, I will simply not dine there.
So, although we were really excited to have brunch at Mildred’s and had heard so much about the buttermilk pancakes, we did not dine there and I will tell you why:
a) Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (henceforth referred to as MTK) does NOT take reservations for groups less than 12 (we were a group of 7, how unfortunate for us).
b) MTK does NOT pick up their telephone at any time during Sunday brunch (even though there are 3 hostesses idly minding the front desk. This is, of course, when they are NOT helping to open the front door which gets stuck in the blustery wind tunnel where the Temple is hidden on Hanna avenue). The result is a struggle with the big glass door while 3 lazy assed hostesses stare down their noses at you from inside.
c) It’s apparently okay at MTK to completely brush someone off when asked about parking costs in the underground (you will note if you visit their site that the simple Flash page has little to no information on it. Something about Mildred minding her peas ’cause…you know, that IS useful, but no information about the cost of parking). I finally learn after having to vie for attention that it’s Green P parking and the prices are “whatever is listed there”. I then learn from my friends who end up parking there that it’s $5.
d) MTK will NOT seat you unless all of your party has arrived. This does not matter even if:
more than 50% of your party has arrived (there were 5 out of 7 of us waiting)
the waiting party has been waiting for 2 hours! (you have to remember that this is BRUNCH we’re talking about, so many of us had not eaten breakfast!)
e) There were several attempts to speak to the manager about our situation (because by this time everyone who had either arrived before or AFTER us had already been seated) and our situation was this :
Granted, we were a group of seven, with five of us waiting, but we already knew by the time we got there that two of our friends would be late; neither of them had cellphones but had managed to contact us through pay phones. And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it true that usually what happens is that whoever gets there first gets a table while everyone else joins in whenever they arrive? I mean, really, correct me if I am wrong. So in my friends’ defense, they were totally unassuming of our predicament. When I realized that there wouldn’t seat us until everyone got there I had to reason with the manager telling her that we had absolutely no idea when the other two would get there, so why couldn’t the five of us be seated and then simply add a couple of chairs later?
Alas, it was not to be. The manager was ridiculously stringent over MTK’s seating policy. Her logic was as follows:
“We can’t seat five of you and then add two chairs later when your friends come, because if five of you finish eating and then the other two arrive and sit down to eat, there will be 5 spots that we’re missing out on filling with other patrons.”
So, I had to ask:
“How is this different than if all seven of us were to arrive on time, sit down for brunch and all finish eating but decide to hang out for 3 hours?”
I was told that this was very different because some of their patrons dine for 10 minutes and others for longer, but they only seat all of the party once everyone has arrived.
Even when our sixth person arrived, the manager refused to budge declaring that she didn’t have a table for our group at that time, anyway! This was when one of my friends began filling out a ‘comment card’. This was also when we decided to head over to Butler’s Pantry, instead. I called Butler’s and was told they would have a table ready for ALL seven of us by the time we got there! Ah….service. So that’s what it feels like. (Please take note Donna Dooher & Kevin Gallagher).
At MTK, not only can’t you make reservations to ensure you get a table for brunch, you can’t even be seated when everyone HAS arrived.
When our seventh person arrived, I took the opportunity to obtain a second ‘comment card’ from the manager. This is when she asked if all seven of us were there to which I said,
“Yes, but we’re leaving.”
As expected, her response was, “Fine, I’ll cancel your table.”
On our way out as we gave her our comment cards she said she would pass them on to the owners, but didn’t bother saying anything along the lines of, hmm…I don’t know, an apology?
I expect if Donna Dooher and Kevin Gallagher keep up with this ridiculous seating policy and continue to hire such rude and incompetent staff, this is one “temple” pancake worshippers will NOT flock to.
Already, there are some less than rave reviews about MTK and it’s management policies.
“We were a group of 12 for brunch.They normally don’t take resos for brunch unless you are a min. of 12, so for this “privilege” you must pay for a ‘prix fixe’. This is fine, but all it was was the same menu items marked up. When I broached managment to inquire as to why this is so, I was NOT impressed with her responses and definitely not her holier-than-thou attitude (“We need to make sure it’s worth it” and “Do you know how much the King Eddy brunch is?”)Excuse me? As someone who works in the hospitality industry I found this attitude to be abhorent.”
“The girl who received us was not exactly overly hospitable or professional, meaning we were received but not really welcomed with warmth.”
“We were excited to visit the new Mildred Pierce restaurant – The new place is very different, open and trendy. The restaurant was packed -extremely noisy. Difficult to have conversation – in fact the waiter, when he finally appeared, had trouble hearing us. The service was extremely slow and style of service very casual. After a long wait our waiter informed us that he had forgotten to input our order. The food he had recommended, whitefish starter, was deep fried, bland with a bland sauce. Very disappointing food and service .When time to leave, we were locked out of the adjoining bldg where parked, had to be escorted out through the kitchen. The new restaurant seems completely unrelated to the former one.”
“I wouldn’t visit Mildred’s again. Reason being, the food was adequate, the experience was average, and we couldn’t enjoy ourselves because the restaurants’ open concept kept it freezing & we could not warm up. Overall, it’s average & there’s so many restaurants in Toronto, that my experience wouldn’t take me back there.”