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The fateful review of Mildred's–and Queen West.
No. 49

Skewer the reviewer

Kevin Gallagher’s pandemic hobby of penning blog posts quickly turned into a smart promotional initiative that got people talking. Gallagher, who co-owns Toronto’s Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, mines his reminiscences from a lifetime in hospitality — like the brunch when three of the waiters didn’t show up, the used condom stuck to the bottom of a waiter’s shoe… “That [last] one was very popular,” he says.

As was his entry referencing a review of the original Mildred Pierce Restaurant, by the often-acerbic food critic Joanne Kates for The Globe and Mail. “Every menu item tried was disparaged — presentation, execution and taste. [She referred] to us as ‘the drekmeisters of Queen Street West,’ ” Gallagher wrote. “They do not accept reservations,” Kates had also noted. “People are lining up for this food. As P.T. Barnum once said…”

Later, when Mildred’s put an ad in Now magazine, announcing expanded dinner hours, chef Anne Yarymowich suggested designing it like a movie poster, with quotes from food critics. And so, they tacked on “People are lining up for this food,” added an exclamation point — and dropped the P.T. Barnum part.

“[Kates] was very upset about it apparently, which was great,” Gallagher says. “I keep the ad in a plastic sleeve and pull it out from time to time. It was [published] 30 years ago — April 6, 1991.”

—Doug WallacePhoto Credit: Kevin Hemrage

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