“In bread we trust” goes the motto at Maison Mathis, New Haven’s – and Yale University’s – much touted foray into Belgian cuisine-on-the-go. Boy, do they ever. Your average carboholic’s brain (along with other internal organs) is likely to explode on contact with this menu. Brioches, baguettes, crispy rolls, focaccia, ciabatta, raisin bread, thick country bread, whole grain breads – they’re all housemade at the top o’ every morning (roughly 4 a.m.) with imported Belgian flour, and “kneaded into perfection.” I’ve had some pretty tasty bread-based treats here, I’ll confess: a breakfast sandwich on a crispy roll with egg, avocado, tomato, Cheddar, bacon and horseradish aioli ($5.25), an open-faced curried-chicken tartine with apples and cranberry on toasted grain bread ($9), a jambon & fromage sandwich with parsley mustard on a brioche. Curiously, however, my favorite items involve no bread at all- a superfresh orzo salad with arugula, feta cheese, grape tomatoes, Greek olives and peppers ($5.75); a mushroom, chevre and sunflower-seed omelette made with eggs from Soeffer Farms in Branford ($8). Made-to-order Belgian waffles “de Bruxelles” are enormously popular- and I have yet to try Maison’s array of croques (monsieur, madame, caprese and fromage), or some enticing (and not particularly Belgian) daily specials, such as mahimahi with braised maple endive and ginger soy glaze. I can heartily recommend many of the sweet treats, however, particularly the blueberry-and-tarragon-lemon tartlette, either as fine finishes to your meal or stand-alone indulgences. Though the management exhorts diners to “relax,” the gleaming floor-to-ceiling-windowed cafeteria surroundings (with imported white marble counters) and self-service ordering system don’t really lend themselves. But adding a cup of organic coffee or tea, a Belgian beer, or an imported soda to your meal will slow you down a bit.
304 Elm St., New Haven, (203) 752-9779, mm-yale.com. Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
By Pat Grandjean