As fall creeps towards winter in Toronto, the cool weather always provides an excellent excuse for our family to enjoy a few new restaurants before we hibernate in January and February. We recently visited Maison Fou in the Bloor West Village, a cozy French brasserie that was celebrating their 1st anniversary on the day we arrived. Located directly across from Runnymede Station, the restaurant’s warm, inviting interior provides the ideal setting for a family meal.
Disclosure : We were guests of Maison Fou but, as always, opinions are TOTALLY ours!
We arrived early on Wednesday evening to find a few diners already enjoying what looked to be incredible dishes. The restaurant’s layout allows for both large groups and small, and we were seated against the left wall, with bench seating on one side and chairs on the other. The kids settled in nicely as our waitress brought us some coloring books and crayons as we looked at the food options. While there is no dedicated kids menu, we found a number of dishes that we were sure our kids would enjoy, including the Fou Burger and the Steak Frites. However, we decided to take a chance, as we are always looking to expand the flavours they eat, and we ordered the Parisian Gnocchi, made with brown butter, walnut, sage, autumn vegetables, sunchoke cream, and gruyere. Our judgement must be improving because they ate it pretty quickly, save for a few of the vegetables.
I decided on the Steak Tartare for an appetizer while Yashy choose the Foie Gras, a dish we know that our Little Man loves to eat as well. The Tartare featured a delicious jalapeño jam on the side and was sprinkled with ginger. It was one of the finer iterations of the dish I have had in awhile. If a restaurant has beef tartare on the menu, I am usually going to order it, unless seafood chowder is being served! The foie gras was garnished with Maldon Salt and served with apple-quince chutney and toasted brioche. If you are a fan of either of these dishes, Maison Fou will keep you happy.
For dinner I decided on the Pan Seared Trout, not a dish I order often but usually enjoy. It’s served with a Reisling Sauerkraut, an unusual side that intrigued me enough to order the dish. This disparate combination worked though, and the mussel-veloute served as the base of the dish further complimented the dish. A wild rice ragout completed the meal. I don’t enjoy the flavour of wild rice but feel like I am eating healthy when I do have it. Since it paired will with the meal, I didn’t mind.
Clearly missing Morocco, Yashy ordered the Duck Confite Tagine, which was served with Moroccan Spice braised chickpeas, apricot, and rapini. We did not see duck on any menus in Morocco, which is unfortunate. When prepared in a tagine, it’s succulent and flavourful. The chickpeas base was excellent too. Because she is testing out a soy free and gluten free diet in an effort to diagnose a health problem, Yashy is relying on servers to know the ingredients of every meal when she is dining out. We have encountered a few places that struggle with her questions, but the servers at Maison Fou knew it all, and the restaurant was happy to accommodate to her needs. Luckily, no substitutions were required for any of our dishes.
Dessert time! As the kids dutifully ate most of their meals, we ordered the Chocolate Mousse and the Crème Brûlée. While Growing up in Cape Breton, I had never even heard of these two fairly common desserts. Our kids however, could start judging competitions after the range of sweets they have been exposed to at such a young age. Little Monkey polished off most of the mousse, while Yashy and the Little Man split the Crème Brûlée. Everyone was happy.
Overall, we really recommend Maison Fou for a night out. The prices are very reasonable for the quality of the meal and there was no entree on the menu that did not look appealing to me. We found our servers to be very attentive, even as they were being ignored by our kids. They also had highchairs available and we spotted a few nooks for stroller storage. After spending some time in France over the summer, we are grateful that Toronto offers some excellent choices for French food, Maison Fou being an excellent example.
As it was Wednesday night, we didn’t explore the beverage options. I felt the beer list to be uninspiring, with only a couple craft beer options, but the restaurant does have a nice wine list and a range of cocktails available. A nice dry white wine would have paired perfectly with my meal. This was a first experience dining out as a family since returning from Europe, and the French meal transported us back to our summer adventure for a few brief hours.
We noticed a few of our favorite restaurants closed their doors while we were away. Fortunately, Toronto is full of hidden gems to discover. Where have you been recently that you can recommend?