What’s on the menu at Maison Selby, O&B’s new French restaurant inside a 136-year-old heritage house

What’s on the menu at Maison Selby, O&B’s new French restaurant inside a 136-year-old heritage house

Name: Maison Selby
Contact: 592 Sherbourne St. 647-943-1676, maisonselby.com, @maisonselby
Neighbourhood: St. James Town
Previously: The Clarion Hotel and Suites
Owner: Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants
Chef: Corporate executive chef Anthony Walsh and executive chef John Horne (Canoe, Auberge du Pommier, Biff’s Bistro, Bannock)
Accessibility: Accessible via the Selby residence tower, with an accessible washroom on the second floor serviced by an elevator and a lift. A manager is required to escort guests to the accessible washroom.

The food

Between the haute French cuisine of Auberge du Pommier and Parisian bistro fare served at Biff’s, there’s Maison Selby. The menu is an encyclopedia of French classics: ratatouille, boeuf Bourguignon, escargot, foie gras, sole meunière, steak frites. Even the brunch and breakfast menus abide by the same theme, listing crêpes, omelettes and quiches. “We went simple to let the food speak for itself,” says Walsh, who wanted the plates to be as authentically French as possible.

This Niçoise salad is made with escarole, boiled potatoes, quail eggs, green beans and tomatoes. The albacore tuna is poached in an olive oil that’s been infused with orange peels, coriander and star anise. $29.

 

The escargots de Bourgogne swim in a blend of garlic, almonds, parsley and vermouth. $18.

 

When chef Horne went to stage at the best restaurants in France, he was dead set on perfecting his ratatouille recipe, so this dish is the culmination of everything he learned. The vegetable crown (zucchini, tomato concasse, olive tapenade) sits on a bed of saffron-infused couscous. $23.

 

The French onion soup takes two days to make, and starts with a rich beef broth made in house. Each bubbling bowl is topped with just about a block’s worth of Gruyère. $14.

 

Walsh thinks this is the best burger at any of the O&B restaurants. Even the bun is impressive: a pain au lait made with extra milk, so it’s fluffy and super moist. The loosely packed puck of chuck is seared, then topped with Gruyère and caramelized onions. (If you thought that read a bit like the soup above, that’s the point.) $21.

 

The boeuf Bourguignon is made with a wine-braised beef cheek and served with a super-buttery pomme purée. $35.

 

The Eggs Hemingway is probably the least French of all the brunch options. Named after the American writer who called this building home while working as a foreign correspondent for the Star, the dish’s poached eggs are cradled in a croissant with wilted spinach and Smoke Bloke lox, and topped with béarnaise sauce. $19.

 

This pain perdu (or as us Anglos call it, French toast) comes with caramelized bananas and chocolate sauce. $14.

 

The drinks

The extensive cocktail list includes classics and house creations, many of which feature the Maison Selby line of Dillon’s Distillery products. The modestly priced wine list (bottles range from $58 to $95) focuses on French and Ontario grapes, and every single one is available by the glass. Nearly everything else is fermented or brewed in the Golden Horseshoe, including some exciting brews from Hamilton’s Fairweather and ciders from Guelph’s Revel Cider.

The Aperol-based Fortunes on a String cocktail is made with Amaro Nonino, Dolin dry vermouth, a splash of bubbly, a squeeze of lemon, grapefruit syrup and Peychaud’s bitters. The refreshing mix is topped with egg white. $17.

 

For the indecisive, there’s also the Quelle Surprise option, which is basically the bartender’s choice of Maison Selby’s various concoctions. On our visit, they made us the Cloud Bursting, a blend of chamomile vodka, Cointreau, lemon, Maison Selby absinthe, hibiscus bitters and coconut-pepita orgeat. $12.

 

Here’s the Maison Selby line of Dillon’s Distillery products.

 

The space

This 136-year-old house has had multiple incarnations. It’s been an all-girls school, a gay club, multiple different hotels, and now a French restaurant attached to the gleaming new Tricon rental tower (called the Selby). The new 95-seat restaurant is spread out across four rooms, each has been done up by design firm Solid Design Creative.

The Parlour is enveloped in what looks to be a scene plucked from an illustrated Victorian textbook on all things botanical. The paper was sourced from Rebel Walls. Tarragon velvet chairs add to the jungle vibe.

 

This is the Rose Room. The pretty-in-pink space takes its name from the floral wallpaper, which was custom-made by artist John Page.

 

There aren’t actually orange trees in the L’Orangerie, but there are tons of plants, antiques and some really funky wallpaper.

 

And this room’s called the Bar because, well, this is where you’ll find the bar. If you’re seeking a bit of a more surreptitious drinking experience, head downstairs and look for the moveable wall. Behind it you’ll find Sous Sol, a semi-secret speakeasy.

 

More seating in the bar area.