Dessert tray, Brie highlight MBCF lunch trade
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
It was the perfect lunchtime trade. Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog Image Editor Erica Corbett was giving the GLOB Master a ride to pick up his repaired computer in exchange for lunch at Mildred's Big City Foods just off of University Avenue and NW 34th St.
I'm sure like most lunchouters when you think of MBCF one of your first images is the amazing Mildred's dessert case.
What a feast for your eyes GLOBers. Amazing looking cakes like the Mildred's Carrot Cake, the Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake and the Espresso Torte were on display in the cabinet mix this lunch hour.
Maybe it's because Mildred's has been around since 1994 they have fine tuned their walk-up fast casual service to perfection:
The customer friendly server at the counter is quick with friendly answers, and even better with knowledgeable suggestions about the days menu.
The Mildred's menu is smartly displayed high above the walk up counter easy to view including any daily specials as well as the Daily Quiche special.
The Mildred's Dessert Case is 'Right There' in your view, daring you to ignore scrumptious slices of sugar nirvana.
The menu listed delicious sounding sandwiches like the MBCF Classic Reuben, The Club Sandwich, or the exquisite sounding Seared Tuna Sandwich. Salads sounded enticing with the Crispy Calamari salad, a yummy Buttermilk Fried Chicken salad I have yet to try but are in my future Mildred's lunch plans.
Being a light lunch eater Erica selected the Asparagus and Broccoli quiche of the day with a cup of fresh cooked soup ($11:00) We both shared my delicious side salad of greens, carrots, sliced cucumbers in a tangy vinaigrette dressing. BTW, the squares of bread look mighty inviting.
Erica's MBCF lunch observation:
"The two lavish desserts we chose at Mildred's were a Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake ($7.99), and a Espresso Torte ($7.99). The Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake cake, above, was surprisingly light and had fresh strawberries layered throughout a chocolate biscuit cake with a cream cheese ganache and whipped cream. The espresso torte, image below was decadent and had a chocolate and coffee creamy pie like consistency along with whipped cream and espresso bean on top. This torte was heavy and rich and was big enough to be shared with two or more people. I enjoyed the asparagus and broccoli quiche and the side of soup which was the daily special. It was perfect for a lunchtime meal and I left feeling just the right amount of full. I like that Mildred's is an older Gainesville spot that offers a dining experience with a mellow crowd and large dining area so lunch can be quick yet nice."
My Hot Ham & Brie sandwich, image at top of page, was awesome with caramelized onions Dijon mustard, served on sour dough bread ($9.50). The Brie was a new experience for me and along with my side a salad made my lunch an enjoyable, fun experience.
The Brie in my sandwich created a surprising, creamy explosion of tart, tastes and textures. The Dijon mustard added a sharp tangy alternative to the earthy carmelized onions and created the perfect backdrop of stacked slices of ham.
That said Brie is not on daily go-to list insofar as cheese choices:
BRIE: Originally from Seine-et-Marne in northern France, Brie is cherished for its impressionable character, and even graced the tables of royalty in the Middle Ages. Enhancing its surroundings like color to a painting, Brie is thought of as a complement like few other cheeses.
There is a complete Mildred's menu at the restaurant link at the bottom of this page.
Conversation became sparse as Erica and I shared a slice of Mildred's Espresso Torte. Erica decided a slice of the Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake had the Twins Lyle and Lav's name on it and she took a slice home to share that evening.
I'm not going to try to expand on Erica's dessert observations above. I did ask for pics of the twins enjoying their chocolate shortcake.
"Sorry Mike no pics tonight,' the text read later that evening. "As soon as the kids saw the shortcake it disappeared in a matter of minutes."
The Great Compromise:
Salad, wrap, tabouleh to go around
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
I speak a lot about where I would take my dear mother for lunch if she came back to life. Mildred's Big City Foods would make my mother a happy lunch outer, from the classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad ($10) to the unique and completely southern Grilled Pimento Cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato on multigrain bread ($8.50).
This smallish café has the unique flair and style of long-time Gainesville chef, Bert Gill, who is comfortable in his cooking skin. And why shouldn't he be, recognized by many as Hogtowne's premier cooking boy?
My lunch partner for this Meatless Monday meal is good friend Kristina Steinfeldt. As we are getting to know each other better, today we are sharing our lunches. Come on GLOBers, you can't get any better than sharing lunch with a friend.
After having enjoyed Eggplant Napolean with Kristina previously on several occasions, the Mildred's Fried Eggplant Wrap with fresh mozzarella, spinach, basil aioli, marinated peppers and balsamic vinaigrette seemed like an obvious lunch time selection ($9.50).
After much discussion, Kristina opted for the Mildred's Greek Salad with cucumbers, roasted red peppers, olives, and feta cheese on mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette. A protein can be added to the salad for an additional $2 – $4 for tempeh, chicken – grilled or fried, or tuna.
I was feeling smart about ordering the eggplant wrap and foregoing the pleasure of sliced bread. The flavor of the fried, crunchy eggplant stood out in this amalgamation of flavors highlighted by the tart balsamic dressing. The tortilla wrap was somewhat chewier than I would have liked. However it did offer me a legitimate reason for refraining from eating Kristina's share of the wrap. The wrap came with a side of quinoa tabouleh loaded with those tiny beads of grain.
Kristina's choice of the Greek salad was spot on. The olives and goat cheese mixed with the vinaigrette dressing was eye-opening with the sharp, almost bitter flavors of the mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette. One day I think I might try some delicious, creamy goat cheese on a pack of chocolate covered brownies . . .
Kristina thought for a minute and waxed philosophic as she quoted Will Rogers:
"An onion can make people cry, but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh," she said with a serious look. "Actually I disagree with this quote, especially for those who have a sense of humor and wonderful company.
"This lunch had all the taste and texture of an omnivore's lunch," Kristina added with a sparkle in her eye. "The best part of the lunch was sharing it with a wonderful friend," she added.
"There was a lot of lunchtime goodness inside my lunch," Krstina added. "The wrap was tasty without being overly seasoned. The vinaigrette dressing was perfectly distributed, and the entrée had enough substance for me to walk away satiated but not overly full. I would definitely order the eggplant again."
Being at Mildred's leads to talking of a culinary confection conundrum, what could be tougher than looking into the Mildred's dessert case and choosing JUST ONE slice of dessert joy? Today it was a three-layered torte with coffee flavoring, bits of chocolate, cream cheese filling, whipped cream topping, and cookie crumb crust.
OMG! What a wonderful way to end a simply marvelous Meatless Monday munch.
In a political world where the art of compromise has gone the way of 25 cent coffee, Kristina and I both nodded our noggins in agreement. We did an excellent job of sharing our tastes, preferences, and lunch, including my tabouleh.
Two-Fers everywhere but the pie pan
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
It was a Two-Fer kind of lunch day. Biochemist, Research Asst./Lab Manager and good friend Erica Corbett invited me to lunch at her new office with Kaplan Schiller Research in the University of Florida's Innovation Hub. Not only do I get to share a great Food On The Run lunch with interesting company, this is the first time I have been inside the Innovation Hub building.
Since it was a special lunch for the GLOB Master I headed over to Mildred's Big City Foods to see what kind of special take out lunches they might have. I was in luck as TWO of the MBCF Daily Specials jumped off the specials board and I decided on Quiche Lorraine with bacon, and Swiss cheese ($9.50). I selected the Tuna Melt, ($9.50), which I ate as an open face sandwich. The tuna fish salad was a delicious mixture of tuna fish, mayo, egg, tomato, and Swiss cheese on a very good looking multi-grain bread.
One of the TWO side items was Ms. Corbett's garden salad with a little TOO sweet vinaigrette dressing. I selected a side order of potato salad that was a little on the crunchy side of uncooked. Apparently the potatoes were diced raw for quicker cooking. A process that didn't really work.
My tuna salad was very good, and filling for the GLOB Master. There was a lot of tuna flavor combined with juiciness of the tomato. I'm thinking Erica got the better of the TWO lunches because her Quiche Lorraine looked really good.
I quickly mentioned I might like a taste of the quiche to Erica. Lab work must make a chemist work up a real hunger because before I was able to remind Ms. Corbett of my egg pie request her lunch was gone. All gone.
We have talked before about the famous desserts at MBCF and I brought along a slice of Chocolate Torte cake with an amazing looking chocolate crème filling between three chocolate, devil's food layers of cake. My Blood sugar went up a 180 points just looking at this sugary dessert prize. I did allow myself a small bite as the TWO of us hungrily enjoyed dessert.
I was impressed with the lab Lady's, er, uh, biochemist's work surrounding. The atrium of this three story building climbs to the ceiling in an impressive open air environment allowing folks in the lobby to gaze upon walkways on each of the three floors above the ground floor. Erica took the dramatic image below from her third floor offices.
A big GLOB thanks to E. Corbett for inviting the GLOB Master to visit Innovation Square, and for an interesting lunch. I hope I get invited back. The next time I will bring TWO slices of Quiche Lorraine so I will have my own egg pie.
Desserts, ambience puts MBCF in rotation
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
Those readres who have been following the GLOB know that I get together with a couple of friends, UF Entomology and Nematology staffers, Jane Medley and Kathy Milne, regularly to share excellent Gainesville lunch out experiences.
Over the years, we have created a good rotation of lunch venues that fit what we consider to be the ingredients of a perfect lunch experience. Those ingredients are tasty food, proximity to the UF Entomology/Nematology building, and ability to eat and get back to work within an hour.
The now closed Wine & Cheese Gallery, the Paramount Grill, Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill, Mildred's Big City Food and its sister restaurant, New Deal Cafe, are permanent fixtures on our list of regular lunch out spots.
When a month with one of our birthdays arrives, the birthday boy or girl is our official lunch out guest and gets a free lunch and chooses the lunch out destination of his or her choice.
Kathy Milne was celebrating her birthday this mid-day mealtime occasion, and she selected Mildred's Big City Foods, close to the corner of University and 34th St, as our destination.
Mildred's always has an inviting daily lunch special and menu board of varied sandwiches and salads. They also have a fast-casual, 'pay-as-you-go' process that shortens the time from ordering to eating in this busy, convenient lunch spot. Mildred's has two standing specials: Baja Tacos: Cabbage Slaw, Cilantro, Spicy Aioli, and Choice of Grilled Chicken or Seared Tuna, and Quiches of the Day: Two options daily served with soup or garden salad.
Having just typed the above statement, I'm not sure Mildred's is for everyone.
I get excited when Mildred's is mentioned for lunch. I immediately think of their Turkey Club, image at top of this review, which is comprised of turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar and Thousand Island dressing. The combination of toasted bread with the meats stacked a mile high works for me every time. I added a tossed salad and slice of yummy looking carrot cake to complete my order. There is a complete Mildred's Big City Foods menu at the restaurant link below.
My Mildred's house salad was fresh, crisp, and very tart with the house vinaigrette. Finishing my celebration lunch with that heaveny piece of MBCF carrort cake had an OMG effect, as in 'Oh my glob!' You could taste the raisons, cinammon, carrots and cream cheese. PS, I am a good-sized person, and Mildred's desserts are way too large for one lunch outer to eat alone all at once. Sharing desserrt is a good idea.
Lacking lunch creativity, I'm somewhat embarrassed to say the Turkey Club is my standard order at Mildred's.
Typically my second thought about Mildred's is one I repeat while sitting down for lunch in this civilized, comfortable cafe. My friends have heard me say more than once, "You know, if I called Rosey, Andy, or Miller for lunch and told them to meet me at Mildred's Big City Foods, they would either laugh at me or wonder if I had been possessed."
Come on, I know you would agree that Mildred's is not a stick-to-your-ribs kind of lunch experience, or maybe I should say a bulge from your ribs experience that comes from excessive calories and serving size.
That said, if I told my pals I was buying lunch at the best dessert selection and display in Gainesville and it was "All You Can Eat" day, they would show up in a heart beat. Or should I say heart flutter?
But neither one of those things will ever happen.
The Food Network constantly reminds viewers that we eat our meals with our eyes first. Remember that the next time you're at Mildred's. I applaud Executive Chef Bert Gill for presenting his customers with visually enticing salad and sandwich entrees - and a dessesrt display that would surely rival bakeries in Vienna.
When the food is served, however, and I see what my lunch mates have ordered, sometimes I second guess my choice.
When my grown kids and I do lunch, they often suggest Mildred's. I'd like to think they make that choice for the healthful, bountiful salads and for their use of locally grown produce and veggies. Or maybe the kids pick MBCF for the fresh-baked bread, interesting cheeses, and special herbed sauces that enhance hot or cold sandwiches.
When the kids think of Mildred's, they are thinking one thing. Dessert. On the way over to MBCF, the kids are lost in thought dreaming of cakes, pies, whipped cream, and chocolate from the confection wonderland that is the Mildred's Big City Foods dessert display case.
If there is a better menu choice of desserts available out there in GLOB land, I'd like to hear about it below.
This sounds like a GLOB Top Five Dessert contest waiting to happen . . .
Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Mildred's Big City Foods. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
Once a month, I meet SweetBerries Eatery & Frozen Custard's owner and friend, Jane Osmond, for lunch. Jane moved to Gainesville a year and a half ago and, since she is new to G'ville, I have had the pleasure of introducing Ms. Osmond to some of Gainesville's interesting lunch stops other than Sweetberries. Our July Meatless Monday lunch adventure was at Mildred's Big City Foods. Bert Gill and the chefs at Mildred's get my award for some of the more creative entrees in Hogtown. The Mildred's lunch menu is loaded with meatless entrees, plus they are most happy to oblige your imagination by customizing any entrée to your culinary satisfaction. However with lunch items like Fried Eggplant Wraps, Crispy Calamari Salad, Grilled Pimento Cheese, and Sloppy Tempeh Joe, the GLOB Master didn't have to tax his creative skills. The idea of a fried eggplant wrap was ringing my lunch bell as I exclaimed I have a winner! My lunch wrap was a smartly charred tortilla encasing nice fat slices of eggplant, fresh mozzarella, spinach, and red peppers. I'm a sucker for anything with peppers, and this sandwich was an explosion of flavor and textures with the eggplant being complemented by the stronger flavor of the pepper. The elastic texture of the mozzarella cheese and the baby spinach leaves created a rich freshness. I felt like my wrap needed a little more sauce and the chef suggested a garlic-avocado sauce that intensified my lunch wrap's WOW factor exponentially. Alright, I admit it. You say Mildred's, I'm thinking dessert. In another life Jane was a pastry chef so it is fun to get her thoughts on Gainesville's flower, sugar, chocolate scene. We agreed to share a slice of the Strawberry Shortcake Cake with white chocolate frosting. It was incredibly moist and unbelievably good: Sponge cake absorbing strawberry juice presented a sweet, cold, strawberry bite that really had me contemplating buying myself a slice to take home.
- Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor