No. 36: Maison Publique
If you want to truly understand what the term “gastropub” means but cannot spare the time or money for a quick exploratory jaunt to the U.K., don’t despair—just head for Montreal. More specifically, to the Plateau, and a public house called Maison Publique.
The decor (long, dark-wood bar, dark wood panelling) is old-school pub with many Québécois flourishes (hunting mounts, and—yes—that really is a photo of René and Nathalie Simard). An ornately framed chalkboard lists owner-chef Derek Dammann’s constantly evolving menu. There are a handful of staples, like creamy foie gras mousse with grilled bread and gherkins, and even some familiar pub items, like Welsh rarebit. But most of the dishes are traditional Canadian and European fare, smartly updated with international flourishes (say, Middle Eastern or North African spicing, like za’atar and charmoulah). The only real constant is great local products in the prime of their respective seasons.
In fall or winter, maybe pan-fried skate wing with leeks and sauce gribiche, or Boileau deer tongue cooked sous-vide for 72 hours, then seared and caramelized à la plancha. Or house-made boudin noir with sautéed apples and watercress. In summer, vegetables with bagna cauda and salmon crudo. Dessert runs from Eton mess to a soft-serve sundae covered with sprinkles. This is a fun and hospitable pub with a serious, disciplined kitchen, which is to say that it is the very best sort of gastropub.
Photos Courtesy of Maison Publique