And here’s the catch… we want to give you an authentic experience so all of our reviews are done anonymously. As far as the restaurant is concerned, we’re just two patrons who take lots of photos of their food. Or are we?
This week, we hit up House Maison, which opened earlier this summer at Church & Gloucester.
Address: 580 Church Street
Vibe: Upscale yet relaxed
Closest subway: Wellesley Station
Drink menu: House cocktails, good wine list
Service: Hit and miss
Patio: Large patio with heat lamps
Reservations: (416) 324-1001
First Impressions: The iconic red brick mansion in the heart of the village has been host to a number of restaurants over the years, most recently the Old Vic. A few months ago, it was rebranded as House Maison, a new venture from the folks behind Smith, 7 West and Wish. House is what they call the main restaurant, which serves French-influenced comfort food, while Maison refers to the accompanying café. The gigantic patio is a huge draw, but despite the heat lamps and blankets on hand, we opted to eat indoors because of the chilly weather. It was a good choice, as the elegant white interior felt both warm and inviting.
We can never resist a charcuterie board and this one looked impressive, garnished with pickles, house pickled veggies, poached pears and mustard. That day’s selection included capicola, prosciutto and mild salami. Although the meat portion was on the small side, the spicy capicola and picked veggies were standouts.
Mixed Salad ($13)
We fared better with our second appetizer, a fantastic mixed green salad featuring shaved fennel, celery, candied pistachios and loads of pecorino cheese. We don't often rave about salads but this one had a great mix of flavours and the perfect amount of citrus vinaigrette.
We ordered the calamari because we were intrigued by the description (raisins!), and we’re glad we did. It arrived in a large, glass mixing bowl and looked unlike any other order of calamari we’ve ever had. The smoky, tender grilled rings were accompanied by black olives, plump raisins, soft roasted red peppers, and small bites of spicy chorizo. It was an unexpected mix that worked surprisingly well together.
Flank Steak ($24)
We saw the flank steak pass by our table several times throughout our meal and it looked too good to pass up. The 7oz. steak was tender and flavourful with just a hint of seasoning. Unfortunately, this dish arrived mere minutes after the appetizers, so by the time we got to it, the fries were cold. Also, the compound butter on top of the steak was a bit too strong, loaded with herbs and lemon.
Lobster Roll ($20)
To our surprise, instead of getting one large lobster roll we actually ended up with three small rolls. The mini loaves were stuffed with lobster dressed with a tomato citrus mayo and topped with bacon, lettuce and avocado. The tomato and avocado threatened to overshadow the delicate lobster but the bites of bacon added a great crunch. Crispy stick chips were served on the side.
Final Thoughts: While the waiters were friendly and attentive, there were some unfortunate service bumps (two different servers couldn’t explain the meats on the charcuterie board, and our entrees arrived just a few minutes after our appetizers). Still, the huge patio will keep us coming back for drinks in the summer, as will the phenomenal mixed green salad and calamari.