Maple Leaf Tavern
We have meant to visit this new neighbourhood spot ever since it opened after a massive renovation and finally found an occasion to meet up here with friends! Jumping ahead, it is quite a good place to catch up with people.
Located in a generally run-down area of Gerrard, the towering traditional cottage with black wood imitation wall cladding was appearing a bit alien. A line of lights was reinforcing a traditional marquee look and aimed at creating nostalgia with an early century inspired aesthetic. The golden yellow sans-serif word mark spanned across the front, adding a simple, modern, yet conservative edge.
The FREE BEER standee sounds great at first sight until all the small letters in between come into context.
The entrance and its’ step had lovely smooth mosaic white tiles, which we almost slipped on - not a good idea for an exterior walking material. A mat by the entrance was dispatched to combat that issue. A bit of an off-putting initial impression, but we let it slide. We were welcomed at the hostess stand by a vintage cigarette vending machine which took upon a task of entertaining us. It was a cool and classy grabbing attention article.
The room was split in two by the island bar with a gorgeous bauhaus light fixture. A darker, pub-like side with booths and high-chairs was to the left and a more formal white table linens to the other side. Both options were offered as reservation options. Warm hints of red brick adorned both sides of the hall.
With an old gas light-inspired flickering candle on the table, Ma Cherie marvelled over the Tavern’s well-designed brand. The leather menu with gold foil letters was a nice touch, but nothing to compare to the pattern adoring the menu as if endpapers of a book. This same lovely pattern as well as a few others were also on our appetizer plates creating a beautiful and subtle secondary visual language.
We all agreed to get going with 5 of their home-made sausages and breads. We were all a tad disappointed to see we only got two slices per type of sausage, not a mini sausage as we expected from the website. These meats were made on premises which is why we were keen on tasting them, but in reality, they were more of fried mini meat patties. We savoured the unique flavours with the side condiment provided, but were not overly enthused about the quantity. The Breads and Butter were a worthwhile addition, as they came warm and fresh, contributing to our appetite with their smell.
Everything went smoothly with service for Cheri and Moi, but our friends didn’t get their drinks for a while and also had one of their dishes wrong. The staff apologized profusely and ended up covering a round of drinks for all four of us. A sweet gesture, as our friends were getting upset.
We also had a couple of their starters, including the Smoked Salmon Crudo which was a treat. The salmon fillet was presented on a horseraddish terrine with a soft boiled egg sliding around the plate heaving marks with sweet mustard sauce all around. It was a lovely dish and the saucy soft egg, adding a sauce of its own contributed to the experience greatly. We also enjoyed the Braised Lamb Croquette. It was served in a dark plate with a broccoli pile to one side and the lamb looking like a patty all topped with garlic crisps. Mint and chilli honey sauce all around added a unique edge to this dish. The lamb was not too sharp in its’ smell, so even Ma Cherie had a few bites.
The dramatic, vintage vibe along with beers on tap were putting the finishing touches on our positive experience. We can’t deny the fact that the dishes were all worthwhile, and the staff was great. We all thought the washroom was worth the trip too with its dark wooden finish and deep forest green shades adorning one’s way to the private rooms .