Oct 6, 2012

Maison Publique: a new restaurant with an old soul

By Andrea Doucet Donida

Maison Publique open kitchen with Chef Derek Dammann at work

As I walked in Maison Publique, I felt immediately at home, or at ease, a sense of familiarity although the restaurant is so new it hasn't really opened its doors yet... Its probably because of the open kitchen and especially the vast bar that greets you right away, with its dark colors and aged look. The dark wood table and chairs as well as the old English patterned wallpaper and out of place memorabilia (like an animal skull placed in a corner) give the finishing touches of a place that has an old soul. It really feels like a neighborhood pub that has been there for years. The chef and co-owner, Derek Dammann is responsible for the decor and told me that it was exactly the look he was going for.  

You will find Alex Cruz behind the bar only on Saturdays, otherwise he is hard at work for Société l'Orignal...in the next room!

'' I wanted a place that fits the neighborhood '' he says, as he lives a few minutes walk away. It has a very different feel than DNA, the restaurant where he made his mark in Montreal (now closed). Derek wants people to come to Maison Publique to relax and have fun, you can watch a game on TV (maybe other than hockey if the lock-out goes on), just come for a bite and beer or a full flavored supper or brunch.

 I can't talk yet about the food in details because this morning's brunch was in fact a practice run, the first official brunch will be next Saturday Oct. 13th. and for supper, the first opening day will be Wed. Oct 10th. But I can show you what I tasted: a very meaty plate with a delectable bone marrow with rosemary and fleur de sel, one of the best blood puddings, sausages, some pork chops, eggs, bacon and toasts. Obviously this was delicious, Derek is very well known as a master of offal and meat plates. No veggies to be seen. But to be fair, there was a salad on the menu...which we didn't order!

Having a sweet tooth, and being at the table with my friend and also well known sugar bug Mayssam Samaha of Will Travel For Food, we also had to order pancakes, salty vanilla and Nutella soft ice cream and the Marathon Pudding which was first described to us as being a cake with dried fruit and ice cream, but turned out to be a sort of mi-cuit chocolate cake (with peanut butter?) and soft and salty ice cream. Derek later explained to me (through facebook) that this dessert is based on the defunct UK chocolate bar Marathon, aka Snikers. I'm putting this confusion on the fact that it was a practice run! And since everything was good, I'm not complaining. I'm looking forward to return for the supper menu, very soon since the resto is opening this coming Wednesday!

Derek and Alex are still a working couple, fun, passionate and hard at work. More than the decor, I bet it is their energy that permeates the restaurant and makes this place feel like home. 

 Alex and Derek, a super duo of Montreal gastronomy scene
 Mayssam and myself talking with Derek about the making of Maison Publique 

4720, rue Marquette (coin Gilford)
Montréal, QC, H2J 3Y6
Metro Laurier
Tel:  (514) 507-0555

Open for Supper from 6 pm to 10:30 pm Wednesday to Sunday
Open for Brunch from 10:30 am to 2 pm Saturday and Sunday

PS: To see Derek Dammann and Alex Cruz in action at the Omnivore World Tour talking about Maison Publique, click here for a fun video!

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