If the sounds of la vie en rose don’t lure you in, the smell of freshly baked croissants and cookies will. Maman delivers everything you’d expect from a French café to every last adorable detail. The unexpected? Its location: hidden in the upper level food court of First Canadian Place.
Mismatched antique chairs, natural wooden tables, twinkling lights hanging form the ceiling, and greenery throughout; Maman is what you imagine a bakery in the South of France might look like. The counter displays cakes, cookies, and croissants baked fresh. Arrive around lunchtime and the day’s featured sandwiches are available too.
Maman Toronto is the recently opened secondary location to their New York City spot in Soho. It is intriguing down to every detail from the blue designs trellised on the cups to the premium specialty teas lining the wooden shelves. They have built an enclosed space at the far end of the food court, with plenty of seating surrounding it and a large terrace outside. You can’t miss it when walking down King Street – a towering, falling water wall shows you the way.
The menu changes daily but consists of salads, sandwiches, baked goods, and savoury tarts. Sandwiches like ciabatta with prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil pesto ($8) or one with Parisian ham, cheese, and homemade béchamel sauce ($7.50). Salads are colourful and unique: one has roasted zucchini, apricot, rice, scallions, black olives, and mint. Another has apples, peaches, pecans, goat cheese & dried cranberries on a bed of baby spinach ($6 each). These lunch offerings target the surrounding business employees, who fill the space during their lunch hour and clean Maman out almost entirely by the mid afternoon.
Maman is worth the trip on baked goods alone, though. Try a slice of their lavender cake ($3.50) or a lemon and thyme madeleine ($1.50). On the day I visited they had Maman’s ‘famous’ nutty chocolate chunk cookies, fresh from the oven. They are huge, with large chunks of chocolate lodged in their sides, which left my hands covered in gooey chocolate. I brought some to eat at home and they were still soft the next day.
The matcha croissant ($3) was another delicious treat – soft and flaky like a croissant should be, with a thick but not overpowering layer of matcha flavour. To accompany dessert, drinks like their lavender hot chocolate ($4.25), matcha latte ($4.75), and homemade lemonade ($3) stand out from the regular espresso, macchiato, and americano options.
Maman has a few more tricks up their sleeve: from opening a bar to stay open after 6pm, to expanding on the catering side of their business. A sign near the bar said ‘Bingo Night Coming Soon’, and I wonder if they will find demand after business hours. The space is welcoming enough, and if they put the same effort into cocktails that they do their other drinks, it is sure to attract a crowd.
Overall, Maman is worth checking out as a French oasis in a sometimes overwhelmingly busy cosmopolitan area. Sit on the terrace, have a sip of your latte, and after a few bites of brioche you might just think you’re somewhere else.
Mon-Fri 7am to 6pm *extended hours coming soon with bar opening