Inside Maison Selby, a new French bistro in one of Toronto’s historic homes
The latest outpost from Oliver and Bonacini now open at Bloor and Sherbourne
Maison Selby is the newest addition to the Oliver and Bonacini family of fine dining locales, and the project has reinvigorated the historic Gooderham House at Sherbourne and Bloor. You’ll be able to get a little bit of everything here, as the skillful world of French cuisine meets a devotion to serving the multifaceted desires of Toronto patrons.
“It’s a beautiful blend of historic charm and modern elegance,” says O&B’s executive chef, John Horne. “There’s something here for everyone, from weekend brunches with the family to late-night cocktails — we’ve captured it all.”
When it comes to the menu, the culinary team doesn’t miss a beat. The restaurant’s philosophy is that French food should invite rather than intimidate, so the menu hosts French classics that strike a balance between elevated cuisine and comfort food.
Their brunch menu features a Benedict that pays homage to a famed former resident of Gooderham House — Ernest Hemingway. The eggs Hemingway finds two poached eggs on a bed of smoked salmon, spinach and a flaky croissant, all smothered in a béarnaise sauce.
Eggs Hemingway ($19)
The coq au vin ($24 lunch; $29 dinner) is a showstopper at a rather friendly price point. Lardons and mushrooms mingle with a generous helping of chicken in an apple purée and red wine jus.
The classics continue with a poached organic salmon ($30), which captures the skillful technique and ethos of simplicity at Maison Selby.
For dessert, you can opt for the lemon tart ($10) topped with charred meringue, or an immaculate crème brûlée.
Classic crème brûlée ($8)
“When we first started to talk about the menu,” says Horne, “we were looking at pictures of the mansion, thinking about what would fit best. For me, it goes back to my younger days working in England and France. Simple, strong, and meaningful food — perfectly prepared. We want to make that concept a part of the next generation of this house, this neighbourhood.”
The mansion started out as the Gooderham family home in 1883, and the next 136 years brought in an impressive array of projects and personalities. After running as a respected private school for girls, the mansion was converted into a hotel, where Ernest Hemingway lived during his tenure at the Toronto Star. Shortly after being designated a heritage property, the mansion’s lower floor even served as a nightclub, which became a crucial safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community after “Operation Soap” saw police raids and mass arrests in Toronto’s bathhouses. The extraordinary life of this mansion is something the Maison Selby team is especially proud to be a part of.
Poached organic salmon ($30)
“It’s a rare opportunity to be a part of Toronto’s history like this,” says culinary project manager Paul Brans. “We’re the new gatekeepers of something so beautiful, and we’re honoured to get to do it.”
The mansion’s interior includes a checkered hallway and four statement rooms on the main floor designed by Solid Design Creative. The walls are coated in hand-painted murals and custom wallpapers with rich colour schemes and little antique treasures scattered throughout.
The locale has partnered with Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery to offer an exclusive line of vodkas, gins, and absinthe, and the bar on the main floor hosts 35 different cocktails from Steve Spooner (director of operations) and Joseph Tanner (Bar Isabel; Leña).
Maison Selby’s basement speakeasy, Sous Sol
If you want a little more privacy, a quick walk downstairs and a push of a nondescript white-tiled wall will transport you into Sous Sol, a clandestine little speakeasy offering $10 cocktails and light snacks.
It’s here that you’ll find the Far East Collins ($10), which is the perfect summer mix of Tanqueray Rangpur gin, Peychaud’s bitters, sage & lemongrass syrup, soda, and lemon juice.
You can opt for the deceptively boozy Selby Mule ($15) at either bar, which features Jaral de Berrio mezcal, Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, raspberry pepper syrup, ginger beer, and mint. Or, on the main floor, treat yourself to the Bijou ($17) which showcases Dillon’s gin, Dolin sweet vermouth, Dillon’s absinthe, Green Chartreuse and Angostura bitters in one enticing glass.
The Far East Collins ($10), the Selby mule ($15) and the Bijou cocktail ($17)
Maison Selby, 592 Sherbourne St., 647-943-1676