The Reveal – Maison Fou Brasserie

The Gist: Owners U.S. Executive Chef Kevin Connell and Canadian business partner Taku Iwasaki have opened restaurants across the globe - widely varying in concepts and cuisines. They were taken with the neighbourhood feel of Bloor West Village.

Masion Fou, their first restaurant in Canada (with more locations to follow in the GTA) isn’t your typical Parisian restaurant. Instead, the menu focuses on regions including Provence, Toulouse, Brittany and Alsace, with wines to match.

And while some dishes stay true to tradition, many aren’t straight ahead French – i.e. Steak Frites are done with Caribbean jerk butter, Mussels are bolstered with a jambalaya sauce, and Vietnamese spices give an Asian twist to Beef Tartare.

And the burger? Connell, who’s been in the industry for 30 years, says it’s "better than anyone on Bloor."

Libations: Cocktails here are an ode to 1920’s France – the gilded age of cocktails, absinthe and Hemmingway. It’s “a small list, but very thought out,” says Connell.

All cocktails are made with fresh juice and with as many Canadian types of liquor as possible.

Wines are in abundance. Many are French, but there are a few Ontario selections as well.

Beer selection is focused on local and French Canadian options, with 12 available on tap.

Fixtures & Fittings: The restaurant got a brand new kitchen – floors, all new equipment, a renovated walk-in. Near the bar area, a wall was knocked down to open up the space.

A fresh wall of paint and fascinating commissioned Rorschach inkblot prints hung up on the wall, "dolled it up a bit," says Connell.

Off the Menu:

Vigneronne Salad ($9) 
An elegant, tart, yet refreshing blend of apple, endive, cornichons and Gruyère are tossed in a zesty Gewurztraminer vinaigrette.

Crab Bisque ($15) Plump, sweet crab beignets and house bacon bob in a thick, rich bisque, finished with crème fraiche, chervil, and chives.

Seabream Niçoise ($23) A kind of deconstructed take on a Nicoise salad finds tender pan-seared seabream atop tomato olive tapenade, fingerlings, green bean pistou, soft egg, and garlic.

Beef Tartare ($15) A heady blend of Vietnamese spices including opal basil and chilies, lemon, egg yolk, relish with gossamer rice crackers and gaufrettes.

Mussels Jambalaya ($18) A large portion of plump mussels get nestled in with tasso ham, poblanos, and tomatoes, and served with fries and aioli.

Duck Confit ($27) Calabaza raisin purée, roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberry bordelaise sauce with duck boasting crispy skin and moist feels like a festive holiday dish.

Beef Cheek Pot-au-feu ($25) Beef cheek is sous vide for 8 hours, resulting in the most tender meat. Veal stock is poured over vegetables and fingerlings tableside, and served with sliced baguette.

Absinthe Crème Brulee is a twist on the classic and the creamy Chocolate Mousse doesn't disappoint.

How Cool is This?! Fou Bar will soon open upstairs. The wine bar will be open late night, with a DJ on weekends.

At the Stove: Chef James Petrin

FOH: General Manager Ian Paquin

Head Honchos: Kevin Connell and Taku Iwasaki

Deets: Maison Fou Brasserie is open for lunch Wed to Fri, dinner seven nights a week, and brunch on Sat & Sun.

Visiting Hours:  Lunch: Wed-Fri 11am-3pm
                          Dinner: Sun-Thursday 5:30-10pm; Fri 5-11pm Sat 5:30-11pm
                          Brunch: Sat & Sun 11am-3pm

Map It: 2197 Bloor St. W. (near Runnymede)

Phone It In: (647) 503-0381

Check out our Facebook page for more photos.