Scrolling through Instagram pics for hours on end has become somewhat of a hobby. And believe me, I know I’m not the only one. This last week Chris sent me a ton of links to Instagram profiles of restaurants we just had to try while he was in town for a visit. One of those places happened to be Maman.
Clicking on their profile, I immediately fell in love with their brand image. White and blue, floral, breezy, ocean-vibes. Very Côte d'Azur. In fact, it was enough of a first impression to make me rethink my brand, which is an impressive feat.
A bit of Maman, it was brought into existence in SoHo in 2014 and quickly grew in popularity all over NYC (even gaining attention from Oprah!) and even in Canada with its opening in Toronto in 2015. Maman, which means mother in French, unites childhood memories and philosophies of a mother’s recipes to create a unique, crafty and warm vibe. From baked goods and coffee to salads, quiches, sandwiches and soups, there’s lots of Maman’s menu to discover.
Inside the bustling First Canadian place location, it’s easy to confirm that #Maman is a favourite lunchtime treat. If the endless line wasn’t enough of a clue, maybe the freshly made pastries lined behind the glass window or crusty baguettes being sawed in half and filled with rich ingredients will help to understand why.
I’ll confess that before we trekked out on a busy Friday during the lunch hour we had some sense to contemplate on the menu options before we arrived at Maman for convenience and because holding up a line during rush hour isn’t fair to anyone.
We decided on sandwiches—a Katie and Rita—washed down with sparkling French water and coffee which Chris conforms is one of the best brews he’s had in awhile. Anyone know where I can get my hands on some of those beans?
Finding a spot on the chilly open terrace we unpacked our sandwiches and negotiated a trade deal—half a baguette for half of a focaccia… because sharing good food is the best thing ever.
Biting into my Katie, the crackle of the baguette gave way to some fresh flavours. Herb roasted chicken accompanied with a basil aioli and loaded with roasted red peppers, arugula and roasted tomato. Of course, one of the great things about this baguette was that it was also nice and toasty-warm as they put the sandwich under a press to wake up the pillowy insides and crunchy outside of that baguette.
Chris, as usual, was blown away by his first bite of the Rita. Spicy salami layered under a tangy asiago aioli and heaps of vibrant radicchio and roasted, pickled vegetables all layered on focaccia.
After taking my own bite, I too was impressed. The airy focaccia was warm and still oily on top, making it feel like true comfort. The way the bitter arugula and cornichons worked with the gentle and subtle flavours of roasted veg and creamy aioli was honestly a welcome flavour profile that you usually don’t experience in a typical sandwich. Then again, I do love my radicchio, so maybe that’s a little biased on my end. Regardless, I think you’d agree when I say that you don’t see a sandwich like that anywhere in Toronto.
I will say, though the focaccia was lovely to enjoy, it was a lot of bread. I couldn’t make it through the whole sandwich so I dissected the good stuff in between slices and tossed the excess. I also think that Rita would have worked better for me on a baguette, a sentiment also echoed by Chris.
Next time I’m downtown for an early morning I’m definitely going to pop in and try a pastry and coffee to go. Though Chris had promised me a Honey Lavender Latte (something I’ve been head-over-heels for since Starbucks introduced it for a limited time this past summer), that wasn’t in the cards this time; only a hot chocolate variation of that. Their glazed pound cake slices and cookies also looked great for breakfast wake-me-up.
Overall, I think this is a great place to grab a baguette on the run. The fare is superior to anything you’d typically find in a food court, which is impressive.
It’s also a healthier option and portions are decent enough that you can even save half a sandwich for later in the day.
Price-wise, our baguette and focaccia were $11.50 each. Though that might seem a bit steep for a sandwich, portion size and quality really do make up for this.
Have you tried Maman? Do think Oprah’s got it right?