If you picture a cozy Canadian grandmother’s cabin, you’re probably pretty close to the vibe of Dear Margaret, which was named after chef Ryan Brosseau’s grandma (per Michelin Guide). The hot spot’s quaint blue exterior welcomes diners into a warm, inviting space with homey food to match.
Expect to find a menu that embraces midwestern seasonal ingredients with a French-Canadian influence. Brosseau was raised in a small farming town in Ontario and aims to mirror the experience he had eating around his grandparents’ table as a child while simultaneously celebrating the bounty of the Chicago area, owner Lacey Irby explained to Tasting Table.
Classic French dishes like pommes frites and duck liver mousse are married with regional stalwarts like fried smelt sourced from Lake Ontario (via Chicago Magazine). While the extensive charcuterie and cheese list — served with homemade bread, naturally — provides the perfect comfort for long Chicago winters, the restaurant’s summer menu (and patio space to match) includes lighter fare like a crab and corn salad and gigante beans paired with tomato beurre blanc (via Dear Margaret).
As far as poutine goes, Irby says that the restaurant is often asked if it serves the dish, which is essentially Canadian fast food. “[It] would be like saying Chicago is a world-class dining city and automatically assuming every nice restaurant has a Chicago hot dog on the menu,” Irby told Tasting Table. In fact, Dear Margaret has only served poutine once, as part of its first-year anniversary menu. The “decidedly Canadian” celebration also featured Labatt’s and shots of Canadian Club — and Brousseau was very particular about his poutine preparation.”We very well may never do it again,” Irby said.