Dear Margaret (2965 N. Lincoln Ave.), opening January 15, will offer French-Canadian cuisine through a Midwestern lens, rooted in classic technique. Owner Lacey Irby and Executive Chef Ryan Brosseau present a changing menu of rustic dishes prepared with local and seasonal ingredients. The restaurant opens for carryout and delivery through Tock on Friday, Jan. 15.
“Dear Margaret is founded on the passion and ingenuity of a year-round preservationist’s kitchen and larder, just like my mémé—French-Canadian for grandma—relied on to feed her family,” Brosseau explains. “This restaurant acknowledges her, in name and mindset, with the type of approachable food we feel people want and crave for a sense of togetherness, especially after almost a year apart.”
Dear Margaret offers a menu tailored to travel home, with onsite dining launching once City of Chicago enters Phase 5 (full reopening).
Cuisine & Menu
The Dear Margaret menu draws from Chef Ryan Brosseau’s childhood in southern Ontario, dubbed the “fertile bread basket of Canada” and the nation’s largest farming region—where there is an emphasis on cooking what one grows and raises, making use of the whole animal, canning and preserving, and having very little food waste. The region’s ingredients—including produce, heritage pork, game meat, wild fowl, lake fish, and artisan cheeses—are also readily available in Chicago for a French-Canadian menu with a Midwestern viewpoint.
The opening menu ooffers food that can travel and arrive at home tables with integrity intact, as the restaurant will only serve carryout and delivery to begin. The menu is divided into three sections plus dessert, featuring:
- Small: Charred & Smoked Carrots with toasted sliced almonds, feta, parsley, dill, oregano, and almond butter vinaigrette ($12); Roasted Parsnips with cacao and roasted fennel purée, Nebrodini mushroom, and anchovy vinaigrette ($12); Duck Liver Mousse served with apricot jam, 9-grain toast, and smoked pickled onion ($13)
- Medium: Putsins, aka French-Canadian chicken and dumplings, with braised chicken, whole-wheat flat dumplings, bone broth, roasted root vegetables, and fines herbes ($17); Roasted Beet Salad, marinated French lentils, red onion, fines herbes, extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, piquillo peppers, and Saxony, an Alpine-style cheese from Wisconsin ($14); and Fried Smelts with tartar sauce and lemon ($12)
- Large: red wine Braised Beef Shank for Two with maitake mushrooms and arugula salad ($48); rosemary and bay-brined Amish Roasted Half Chicken with lemon-herb local rice and jus ($28); Ham Roast served with split peas, mixed pickles, and watercress ($23); and Tourtière, aka Canadian meat pie, with a mushroom, potato, herb, and pork filling in a lard crust, served with a petite salad ($22)
- Dessert: including Nanaimo Bar with a graham cracker crumb, coconut, and walnut base, custard icing center, and chocolate ganache top with whipped crème fraîche; a classic Cookie Trio, one each oatmeal dried cherry, peanut butter, and chocolate chip; and the Canadian Butter Tart with maple, dried blueberries, and butter in a lard crust (all desserts $9)
A small selection of craft sodas are also available at this time; a full beverage menu will be introduced once the dining room opens. Dishes rotate every few weeks as product availability changes, relying on local ingredients whenever possible.
“Our dining room is currently without tables, chairs, and place settings,” Brosseau says. “With our guests’ and our staff’s safety of top priority, it was extremely important to us that we build a restaurant sustainable on carryout and delivery until the threat of COVID-19 has passed. That meant we could also defer the cost of building out the dining room while we get established.”
The dining room will eventually offer approximately 40 seats with another eight at the oak and granite bar. In the meantime, guests can find two small seating areas on either side of the front door with Mid-Century Modern-inspired furniture upon which to wait until their order is ready. Artwork is a mix of thrift store finds and family heirlooms, which intermix with vintage Corningware and crystal bowls throughout the space to give off a homey vibe.
The graphic designs on ’70s-era bowls also influenced Dear Margaret’s logo and emblem, created by Amy Jones of Chicago-based From Amy to Alice.