There are a few cute restaurants in the Plateau neighbourhood here in Montréal that are tucked away on a residential street called rue Gilford. I live in the neighbourhood so I have frequently walked past the five or so restaurants that run on the street between rue St. Denis to the west and rue Papineau to the east. I always wanted to try out the neighbourhood spots and had the opportunity to do so when I had a celebratory dinner at La Raclette a few months back. Since then, I heard La Raclette now serves brunch so we had to pop in to try their morning menu and then we made a point of trying the restaurant’s neighbours along the street. In addition to La Raclette, we dropped by Maison Publique and Le Chien Fumant to try out the different types of brunch offerings from the three unique establishments.
Maison Publique sits on the very east end of Gilford, right before Papineau at the corner of rue Maquette. When it first opened not even a year ago, back in October of last year, the restaurant garnered a lot of buzz as it is co-owned by famous Brit Jamie Oliver. The preternaturally aged Oliver, celebrity chef and advocate of children unprocessed food, is friends with Derek Dammann of the once-famous restaurant DNA that was located in the Old Port. So Oliver is a co-investor and Dammann is the chef at the helm, joining the British gastropub tradition (hence the French translation of public house, maison publique) to a swift but successful marriage with Québecois cuisine.
We met up with some friends at the corner restaurant and ordered up the brunch items scrawled on the chalkboard menu consisting of seemingly basic breakfast fare. The Mushrooms on Toast seemed intriguing so I asked the server if he could elaborate on the item, but I was simply given a very non-descriptive response of, “It’s mushrooms on toast.” Um, okay. I ordered this item anyways, and my friends went for the Maison Publique Reuben Sandwich, Smoked Salmon, and Fried Egg and Sausage. My Mushrooms on Toast was actually very good — sautéed mushrooms in what seemed to be a Hollandaise-type of sauce flavoured with lots of fresh thyme on two pieces of plain, buttered toast. The food, on paper, seem pretty ho-hum but I thought the flavours were melded expertly in their medium-size servings. My friend’s order for the Smoked Salmon was mixed up and delayed, however, so the server, apologetic, tide us over with some freshly baked Apple Chauson. These pastries definitely earned the restaurant points after the earlier dismal service, but the food was so good I may have to trot back and give Maison Publique a chance to redeem its service angle.
Maison Publique Reuben Sandwich (left) and mushrooms on toast (right)
Le Chien Fumant, or “The Smoking Dog”, is located a few blocks west of Maison Publique on Gilford, and is another cute and quaint corner restaurant. It is so quaint that, from the exterior, the restaurant seems absolutely claustrophobic and narrow. However, once we stepped inside I was quite surprised at how roomy the restaurant managed to become. The dining room includes two large tables that can fit about 6 to 8 diners amongst smaller tables of two’s and four’s, as well as a stools at the bar that runs along the length of the layout. Like Maison Publique, brunch items were presented on the chalkboard but Le Chien Fumant’s offerings were extremely meat-heavy — so this is a shotgun warning for vegetarians to steer clear.
Today’s brunch menu
We ordered the first menu item, Fried Chicken and Waffles with onion gravy and chipotle, which came exactly like as described in huge portions. The second item at our table, the second listing on the menu, was the “Triple S”: Deep-fried grits cake made with cornmeal and breakfast sausage, country sausage, sausage gravy and poached eggs. We also had the third item on the menu, the Lobster Benedict with Canadian bacon, spinach, and Béarnaise sauce. The last item on the menu was also ordered for the table, the Breakfast burrito, consisting of scrambled eggs and bacon packed inside the rolled tortilla shell and served alongside miniature corn donuts. Additionally, we ordered coffee and morning cocktails for the table, with the caffeinated beverages served as long espressos as the restaurant did not offer filtered coffee.
Morning cocktail: Orange whisper
All the menu items came in large portions, I would probably say about double the size that we got at Maison Publique, though Le Chien Fumant’s prices were correspondingly pricier. It did mean, however, that most of us could not finish the plates as good as they were. Service was great as well and we were fond of the breakfast beverages offered. The place definitely seems to promise an equally great dinner service, though again the menu is meat-heavy so plan accordingly.
Lobster benedict with Canadian bacon, spinach and Béarnaise sauce
The Triple S: Cornmeal cake with three types of sausages and poached eggs
Last but not least, our venture into the brunch service at La Raclette was just as impressive, if not more so, that its neighbours to its east. La Raclette is branded as a Swiss and European establishment as well as a apportez votre vin (bring your own wine), unlike Maison Publique and Le Chien Fumant. I would also say that La Raclette is definitely more inclusive to a variety of diets and finicky eaters as it carries an expansive brunch menu which is divided into savoury and sweet offerings. Savoury items include omelettes, smoked salmon and eggs, eggs and foie gras (yep, you are in Montréal), and Demi-Déjeuner Anglais: one egg plus one choice of meat accompanied by beans and smoked turkey, and tomato concassé.
Introductory tea cakes on the house
For sweet menu items, La Raclette offers four types of pancakes in flavours such as banana caramel, iced nougat, and ricotta and blueberries which I ordered. The two miscellaneous brunch items are shrimp salad and Breton Cakes from the north-west French region of Brittany, which piqued my interest but will need to be ordered for another day. Our other order for the table was a savoury item, the Déjeuner Anglais (English Breakfast), and both our pancake and egg orders were absolutely huge. My pancakes were fluffy with the right amount of sweetness, which also came with a small serving of yogurt and dried fruit. Savoury breakfast orders are accompanied by a toasted baguette, roasted potatoes with herbs, and fruit salad. I think this should give you an idea of how large the plates are, not to mention that these items are served with free coffee or tea. Also for a limited time, if you bring a bottle of bubbly the restaurant will provide you with freshly squeezed orange juice so you can serve mimosa for the table.
Scrambled eggs with beans and tomato concassé
Blueberry pancakes with yogurt
La Raclette and Le Chien Fumant take reservations, while Maison Publique operates on a walk-in basis only for both their dinner and weekend brunch services.
Also to note: Many restaurants here in Montréal, including some of these restaurants along Gilford, choose to close for certain long-weekend holidays (which I will also add may be different from the calendars in the rest of Canada). So call ahead if in doubt. And if all options fail, you can walk right south to the hustle and bustle of rue Mont-Royal for additional options. But meander back to Gilford when you can — these restaurants are definitely worth the visit.