Maison Fou translates to mad house, but it’s a refreshingly calm and elegant French eatery in an area overrun with generic bars and pubs like The Swan and Yellow Griffin. They do sharing plates of meats, cheese and pates as well as small orders of tartare and sausage in addition to stunning mains and brunch.
It’s owned by international restaurateur Kevin Connell along with local Taku Iwasaki, and managed by Ian Paquin, who has over 20 years of restaurant experience in Toronto. They wanted to bring French cuisine to Bloor West Village in a fun way, paying homage to cuisines like Vietnamese and Cajun that often show French influence.
There’s definitely a bistro feel in here, but a cozy vibe that could quickly turn old fashioned is broken up by white brick, looming light fixtures and teal banquettes.
For a cocktail, we start with the Fou 75, a play on a French 75, a beverage that's classically effervescent and thirst-quenching, but still boozy.
The choucroute au poisson ($25) is incredibly delicate and balanced. The Riesling cream and watercress puree that the BC-farmed lake trout rests upon play nicely with each other and a crispy, tart heap of house sauerkraut adds crunchy texture.
A deconstructed beef bourguignon ($26) takes the elements of a classic French beef stew (beef, onions, potato and mushroom) and highlights each of them. Beef cheek braised in Burgundy is laden with wild beech and oyster mushrooms as well as sweet shallots, served with salty and comforting confit fingerling potatoes on the side.
A merguez lamb shank ($27) is a nod to North Africa and the Moroccan flavours that have long been intertwined with French culture. The shank has been crusted with spices and roasted for hours, and is paired with cooling lentils and red pepper. On top is a cooling dollop of thick 15% milk fat yogurt.
In addition to an extensive wine list with section headings like “Laid-Back but Intricate” and “Audacious and Multi-Layered,” they also serve a variety of local beers and ciders like Collective Arts, Mill St., Creemore, and KW Cider.
There’s an upstairs bar area as well as a patio that allows Maison Fou to compete capacity-wise with other two-level, rooftop-patio-boasting bars in the neighbourhood.