Probably the last thing chef Derek Dammann wants to hear about his new restaurant Maison Publique is that it’s co-owned by British celeb-chef Jamie Oliver. And rightly so – the welcoming pub-like décor and the highly delicious and hearty dishes are all Dammann’s doing…
Oliver, his ex-boss and good friend, is merely a financial backer, who only visited the place for the first time a couple weeks ago. I, for one, have been back three three times since first trying Maison Publique’s brunch – and have yet to order something that wasn’t very tasty. The dishes, listed on a board, are hearty and sometimes quite heavy (like the English-style breakfast platter for two): not for the faint-hearted or the dieting nymphettes.
Some days, unctuous, wobbly bone marrow is drizzled with olive oil before being served with fat slices of toasted sourdough bread (the menu constantly changes). Foie gras pâté forms a tall mound atop more bread, in another indulgent appetizer.
One night, I had a main course of tuna that was perfectly seared on the outside and raw and ruby-red inside, topped with greens, capers and fried croutons. But the specialty here is the offal, from the crisp slices of pig’s liver to the meltingly tender beef tongue served in a sandwich, with a generous pile of pillowy freshly-grated horseradish. Damman, who previously cooked at the extinct DNA in Old Montreal, is well-known for his expertise in butchering and preparing more and less common parts of beef, pork and other meats.
Desserts run along the same rich-and-rustic vein. Their cobbler served in a glass is a nice play on textures, although my favourite sweets are brunch items: the flaky apple pastry and the oh-so-fluffy pancakes with pear butter and top-quality maple syrup from Societé l’Orignal (whose foraged herbs and special oils, all local, are sold at the restaurant, during the day).
Other welcome touches are the all-Canadian wine selection and the expertly-brewed coffee. The only downside, if one can call it that, is how crowded it gets at peak hours. They don’t take reservations and there isn’t much room for those waiting, so my advice is to go very early and very hungry.
Maison Publique, 4720 Marquette Street, (514) 507-0555