Restaurant Review – Dear Margaret

Restaurants specializing in French-Canadian cuisine may be nearly unheard of south of the border, but Dear Margaret, according to Chef Ryan Brosseau on their website, draws from his roots in southern Ontario, the “fertile bread basket of Canada.”

Start your French-Canadian journey with small plates…a peerless Seared Foie Gras, made with mincemeat, honey port lavender syrup, buckwheat granola, mint, and served with brioche. Or Fried Smelts, served with fried pickles, fried in beef tallow, with tartar sauce and lemon. Fried Quail is buttermilk-brined with a proprietary spice blend and served with truffle slaw.

Continue with a Charcuterie & Cheese course, served with housemade bread and butter. Or a Duck Liver Mousse, served with pecan, apple syrup, cherry, and chervil. Or Gravlax (salmon cured using a mix of salt and sugar) with pistachio, lemon emulsion, and dill. 

Large plates follow. Smoked Blood Sausage comes with a sourdough semolina pancake, whipped chèvre, spiced maple jus, and arugula. Roasted Monkfish pairs parsnip purée with smoked mussels, shallot, fennel, Pernod. Braised Goat has roasted root vegetables, red wine velouté, marinated mushroom salad, and fines herbs.

But don’t run off without desserts! Nanaimo Bars combine graham cracker, coconut, and walnut base with a custard icing center, chocolate ganache top and a whipped crème fraîche. Pouding Chômeur is a Québécois bread pudding, whipped crème fraîche, or a Maple Vanilla Crème Brûlèe shortbread cookie.

With near-perfect reviews on Google, Dear Margaret has clearly made an impact. Recently, one wrote: “Cozy, friendly spot; welcoming staff;  flavorful, satisfying dishes – we had a wonderful time.  Highlights for us were the smoked carrots,  beet salad, rabbit ragu and the scrumptious dessert – Nanaimo bars.”

“We ordered several small dishes (Roasted Parsnips, Duck Liver Mousse, Charred Broccoli, Putsins) and one large (Tourtière) to share between two people, along with the Cookie Trio for dessert,” wrote another reviewer several months ago. “Everything was delicious, really did taste like the best homemade food you could want on a chilly night, and the portions were generous for the price. …A wonderful addition to the north side food scene.” 

Reservations are highly recommended for the small, 36-seat restaurant. Booking now through March, parties up to four people, should book via Tock. For 5-8 people, the restaurant requests a call or email, preferably at least two weeks notice; large parties are encouraged to consider Wednesdays, Thursday, and Sundays. 

Dear Margaret is located at 2965 N. Lincoln Avenue, and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 5pm-10 pm, and Sunday, 5pm-9 pm. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. For information and reservations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago