April showers bring French dishes, apparently. Maison, the French restaurant that will call the former Meritage building home, is gearing up for a mid-April opening.
With remodeling largely finished, Maison’s owner is putting finishing touches on the restaurant, at 5921 W. Vliet St., where the name is painted on the windows in gilded red letters.
Chef-owner Michael Quinn last weekend gave diners at Coquette Cafe, his former employer, a little preview of Maison. A special was a dish from Maison’s menu: Provençal fish stew with red snapper, mussels, clams and langoustines, in a broth with cognac, saffron and wine.
The opening menu at Maison will be fairly brief, Quinn said, so that he can change dishes frequently.
Besides the fish stew, diners can expect to find smoked, braised lamb shank among the seven or so entrées.
The menu was still in play this week, but it would have a half-dozen appetizers, such as mussels; two soups, including onion; several salads; and three desserts, including a chocolate dessert from chef Jan Kelly’s Meritage, which closed in summer.
Entree prices are to be comparable to Meritage’s, around $18 to $27.
At the bar, a drink list by bartending consultant Daniel Beres includes a house cocktail on tap: a Sazerac, but made with cognac instead of the expected rye whiskey.
Drinks generally will feature spirits from the French company Maison Ferrand, a notable exception being kirschwasser by Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Distillery, Beres said. (The kirsch will be used in the Rose cocktail, a 1920s Parisian drink made with raspberry syrup.)
The 50-or-so-bottle wine list is all French, Beres said, with an eye toward affordability; more than half of the bottles will be less than $50.
Maison will have wines in smaller carafes around $15, the size of a split bottle, and bottles of house wines around $25. It will also keep some larger format bottles on hand for groups of four to eight people.
Wines will change with the seasons; expect to see rosés for spring.
Maison kept the brass draft system in place at Meritage; besides local brews, France’s Kronenbourg 1664 will be on tap for a few bucks a glass, “an easy-drinking beer for spring and summer,” Beres said.
A colleague of Quinn’s at Coquette, Joseph Roethal, is Quinn’s sous chef at Maison.
Quinn and Roethal said the dining room, previously in wine and butter colors, is now in gray tones with black and copper, designed by Andrea Haas. The dining room has new wooden tabletops and a bartop with copper cutouts.
The secluded patio behind the restaurant will open when the weather allows, Quinn said; he’s already planning a rosé festival on the patio.
Maison will serve dinner Monday to Saturday and lunch Tuesday to Friday. It will take reservations on OpenTable and by phone, once it opens: (414) 323-4030.