First Canadian Place has introduced new restaurants recently such as the Cactus Club Cafe and now, Maman Toronto. Torontonicity was invited to a media tasting at Maman at First Canadian Place on January 26, 2016.
Maman, meaning mother in French, is located on the mezzanine level of First Canadian Place directly beside the food terrace. They opened in summer 2015 in Toronto, but have just unveiled their new tapas menu created by Michelin-starred Chef Armand Arnal. The intimate space of Maman Toronto is immediately inviting, reminiscent of the cozy and quaint cottage country of your childhood. This setting fits perfectly with the menu items, which are inspired by meals that the owners’ mothers prepared for them growing up.
I decided to start by trying the smoked salmon with red onions, lemon, and dill. Despite going into the first bite with slight reluctance, as I detest dill, I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavours. This theme would continue throughout the night, as each bite of the new Maman menu opened my eyes to delightful flavour combinations not typically associated with tapas.
Top right corner, moving clockwise: smoked salmon with red onions, Spanish sardines with sour onions, roasted cauliflower with aged cheddar, Brillat Savarin cheese with caramelized onions, smoked ham and cornichon, ricotta with dill and pink radish, camembert and pastrami marmalade, cod brandade, Serrano ham with sundried tomato, and anchovies with sundried tomato spread.
The most memorable experience of the night was biting into the anchovies with sundried tomato spread, garnished with green onion. The acidity from the sundried tomato is complemented perfectly by the anchovies, but neither one overshadowed the other. I would highly recommend that any Maman visit include a bite, or two, of this item.
After sampling a few tapas, I decided to try out their cocktails. I gravitated towards the Foie Gras: booze-forward drink with cognac, foie gras bitters, and demerara sugar. This is a great choice for anyone who craves a classic like an Old Fashioned, but enjoys subtlety of flavour in their cocktail experiences. The bitters isn’t overpowering, and enhances the smoothness of the drink. A solid winter cocktail.
This wouldn’t be a truly French experience without some cheese: Brillat Savarin with caramelized onions had a sweet creaminess that delights the entire mouth. Chef Armand explained that with Maman Toronto, he wanted to add a French touch to Toronto’s Happy Hour, but with a “…warm feeling.” This description fits perfectly with the buttery quality of this menu item.
I thought it was time for something sweet: choux (puff) pastry filled with whipped cream and pineapple. Once again a delicious first impression, but it isn’t until a couple bites in that the subtlety of the flavours fully develops. Not overly sweet, airy, and wonderfully citrus, this really was the best way to end a cozy adventure through Chef Armand’s comforting French Kitchen. Whether you’re looking for a warm corner in Toronto’s winter, or a fresh and fragrant experience in the summer, Maman fits the bill.