The Great Compromise:
Salad, wrap, tabouleh to go around
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
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
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
- Phone Number: 371-1711
- Address: 3445 W University Ave., Gaineville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: University Avenue
- Web Site: Mildred's Big City Foods
- Latitude: 29.65112
- Longitude: -82.374623
Tee Lee Saturday, 07 August 2010 12:04 Comment Link
Best dessert? - ooooh, so many! But right now I can only think of the Tres Leches at Civilization! Sigh...
Unfortunately, they change out their desserts regularly, so don't know if it will ever return. I keep returning though - hope springs eternal.