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Farmer's market/Local must tries - weekend foodie trip on a budget

Would appreciate recommendations for a leisurely weekend in Montreal in late Feb - we're staying around Sq.Phillips. We're from Toronto so we're looking for Montreal specific foodie must-tries. We will actually have a kitchenette so are looking to do a mix of cooking and eating out (on a budget). We have a car so distance is not necessarily an issue.

We are looking specifically for for a few things - I've perused the boards already - so further commentary on these picks would be much appreciated!

1) Farmer's Markets: Jean-Talon Market - and specific must-tries there?
2) Affordable gourmet: Lemac (after 10pm)
3) Comfy-modern bar (for beer): I'm a devoted fan of blanche de chambly
3) Dessert: Juliette Et Chocolat
4) Other must-try food items?
Poutine: I'd love a good poutine. One of the best we have in the city of Toronto is Jamie Kennedy's upscale version with pulled pork and fresh, waxy, slightly melty cheese curds. I'm talking about some good old fashioned calorie laden poutine!
Bagels: St. Viateur we like
Smoked meats: Schwartz we like
Any other local must tries?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. There are so many things that could be recommened. Just one comment though about #1- consider that you are going to a "farmer's" market at the end of Feb. Not much farming going on in these parts, this time of year, so market is mostly shipped in stuff when it comes to produce. The fun part of the market at this time of year are all the stores in the periphery - cheese shops etc.

    If you're hungry when in the neighborhood, Le petit Alep is a must eat.


    2 Replies
    1. re: maisonbistro

      Yes - excellent point. It's not easy here either this time of year. I guess I should rephrase - I am looking for good places to buy ingredients :)

    2. For poutine it's La Banquise or Patati Patata. Both are yummy, both are in the Plateau. The former is open 24/7.

      1. A "should have" that I don't see mentioned often, at the Jean Talon market, although it is definitely my "must have".

        In the fish store at the fryer, ask for the eperlans (fried smelt). Have them piping hot standing outside the store. I imagine it would be a welcome warm-me-up snack in that February weather.

        8 Replies
        1. re: tarteaucitron

          OH definitely! Those smelts are delicious, and they come with a great sauce.

          Petit Alep gets another vote from me, and Les Havres aux Glaces for ice cream (I'm from the Prairies, we don't let winter interfere with our consumption of frozen products).

          There is also a vendor in the covered part of the market that sells olives and marinated vegetables. They are next to the Happy Sheep people (Mouton Heureux) who do some lovely sheeps milk cheeses. Anyhow if the olive vendor has the balsamic vinegar marinated cipollini onions, buy some. They are magnificent.

            1. re: maisonbistro

              You and many others. They are great. The only disturbing thing is, I haven't seen them the last few visits...

              Another disturbing point: Someone mentioned on one of the other boards that Les Havres may be closed for renovations. Hopefully not for too long!

              To replace the onions and the ice cream (although hopefully these will be back at Jean-Talon Market when Janni3 makes the trip: The sarrazin crepes (buckwheat) at the crepe place near the fish store that makes the fried smelts: oh yummy! Ham and cheese and bechamel sauce: can't go wrong. The sweet crepes are marvelous as well. They have chestnut creme (Creme de Marron) and the berry/Nutella mixture is a classic treat.

              (hmm, haven't been up there for a while... Hubbie: brush up the car!)

              1. re: moh

                Yea, so how's that diet coming??


                1. re: maisonbistro


                  Diet is failing miserably. Had pogo dogs, popcorn, M & Ms and Maltesers for dinner last night at girls night out chick flick thing. But I chose water instead of pop... small victories (one would almost say Pyrrhic)

                2. re: moh

                  I confirm that Havre aux Glaces is closed for renovations. The sign didn't say when they expect to re-open.

                  1. re: jptimbaud

                    Thought the sign inside the store said reopen on January 26 - I was very bummed last Saturday

                    1. re: RhondaB

                      I'm sure after the renovations it will be for the better. The winter is the time to do renovations, for a ice cream shop in Montreal. I'm sure several of the local artisanal ice cream shops close annually all winter. I wanted to check out Bo-Bec ice cream 2 months ago, to finally try the flavours recommended by people on this board, but I found out my arrival there, they close all winter.

          1. The chocolate store in the JTM. Specifically, they have these individually baked chocolate "cakes", for about 2 or 3 bucks each. Don't be fooled, these cakes look very plain, no frosting, no decoration, no pomp whatsoever. But boy are they decadent and delicious.

            1. Highly recommend dessert at Cocoa Locale - it's a takeout place so grab a cake or some cupcakes to bring back to your hotel room. Incredible stuff.

              4807 du Parc
              Tel (514) 271-7162

              For more scoop including flavour suggestions, see: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/404732

              1. The recommendations for poutine are both good (Banquise and Patati Patata, although I prefer Banquise's poutine). But if you want a poutine that puts Jamie Kennedy's to shame, it would be the foie gras poutine at Pied de Cochon...

                12 Replies
                1. re: cherylmtl

                  Just a quick note, last time I had poutine at Patati Patata, I was served some hand cut cheddar type cheese instead of squeaky curds. It wasn't necessarily bad (in fact, the sauce was pretty good), but I wouldn't recommend it to a visitor seeking the authentic experience.

                  1. re: emerilcantcook

                    Oh dear! Squeaky curds are what make poutine worth the calories! Banquise would then be the way to go.

                    But Cherylmtl makes a point about the fois gras poutine. This is another beast entirely. It'll add a bit to your budget to go to Au Pied du Cochon, but it is certainly a distinctly Montreal experience!

                    1. re: moh

                      I headed to La Banquise this evening - I hadn't been there in at least six months. Perhaps it was an off night (which I've never experienced there before), but I was highly disappointed with my poutine Galvaude (which is normally my favourite) - the chicken was beyond dry and tasteless, in teeny tiny flakes more akin to shredded cardboard, and there wasn't much cheese. Someone please tell me they haven't slipped in quality... (I was just way too hungry and too tired from working a very very long day to even send it back, which I probably should have done...)

                      1. re: cherylmtl

                        Double oh dear! I've already had to live through the decline of Au Bien Bon, my first poutine place (now a subpar Asian place...)

                        Perhaps I'll take one for the team, blow off the diet yet again, and tromp down for a pizza poutine...

                        Hang in there Cherylmtl! Weekend almost here (I hope you have it off)

                        1. re: moh

                          Nah, stick to your diet. You'll feel better if you did. We'll have to start a topic on something light but tasty.

                          1. re: lagatta

                            Thank you for the words of encouragement Lagatta! yes, I'll think about a light tasty post concept. Although I have to admit I as about to start a post on where to find the best hot chocolate....

                            But chocolate is health food right?

                            1. re: moh

                              I made a big pot of broth from bones - grated some fresh ginger and added chopped watercress (from Marché Oriental near JTM).
                              Stuck my Braun immersion blender in the pot.

                              Well, dark chocolate is a health food, but a very concentrated one, like nuts...

                              1. re: lagatta

                                Well that sounds quite lovely. What kind of bones? And do you do anything like roast them first? Does sound like a lovely way to finish off large quantities of soba noodles, my mother gave a bunch to me as a healthy food product.

                                1. re: moh

                                  I had some beef bones, which I did roast a bit (I just get whatever the Argentine butcher round the corner has - this is Boucherie St-Viateur, which is in the southern part of Petite Italie despite the Mile-endish name) and then added four chicken legs from the same place at the end, and let them simmered just until done. Of course I carefully skimmed it all. With this weather I did that by letting the broth sit outside on the balcony.

                                  Yep, soba, some greens, perhaps some nice fresh bean sprouts. Some of the chicken and/or the fresh tofu we discussed in another thread to make a meal soup. And fresh ginger, of course.

                                  I live very close to JTM, so I can't, either from a standpoint of $$$ or health, always be buying rich things there, but the neighbourhood is a great source of greens and basics too.

                                  I usually work at home, and in wintertime that kind of soup is my usual lunch, as it is satisfying and full of vitamins, without being heavy.

                                  Getting back to our visitors, if they are in the neighbourhood and like sausages, do go to Milano, the big Italian grocery on St-Laurent just southwest of the market. At the meat counter (not the deli and cheese counter, where there are also sausages) they have small sausages - I think they are in a sheep casing which is narrower. My favourites are the Tuscan lamb sausages - I prefer them to the merguez - which are good as well - since they aren't as spicy, more herbal - and the lamb flavour comes through more.

                                  1. re: lagatta

                                    Yummm. Thanks for sharing, I'll have to give this a try, to counteract the hot chocolate tastings...

                          2. re: moh

                            Please report back if you do go, Moh. I hope it was just a bad night, and not a slip in quality. And thankfully I do have the weekend off - actually, things will be quieter tomorrow - today was so bad I didn't even have time to head out to grab a coffee for a quick mid-afternoon break. You know things are busy when I can't find the time to grab a decent coffee...actually, what's worse is that I actually tried the coffee from one of the office machines...oh, I'm just slipping into the abyss here - someone help me!

                    2. re: cherylmtl

                      Mmmm. I finally had the chance to try the foie gras version recently, and am still savouring it in my mind.

                      I would highly recommend trying both their version and then a "regular" poutine, if you are up to this kind of thing. They are quite different.

                    3. I like Bily Kun as a good bar for beer. It could be loud sometimes, but atmosphere is appropriate for the libation. Also Reservoir at Duluth is a local brewer that has really good but somewhat expensive brunch (cream ale with eggs anyone?) and small plates for a light evening snack. While their evening service could vary from indifferent to plain rude, interestingly their brunch staff is always nice (weird eh?)

                      If you are wondering about Quebec style lumberjack cousine, you might also give a try to the Binerie, a greasy spoon on Mont Royal avenue. We had an extremely satisfying breakfast last weekend, and probably used up all our allowance for saturated animal fat. Their tiny and greasy beans are very good, and I got a strange comfort from putting eggs and beans on top of their excellently grillled bread. They also have other standards such as pea soup, pate Chinois (shephards pie), sugar pie, etc. Along the same lines there is La Quebecoise (which just got good reviews from a visitor) and Maam' Bolduc (a classic) but I have yet to try both.

                      I am not sure what you are exactly looking for in terms of cooking and ingredients, but I echo many other comments here. Most of the produce is coming from Chile these days; but you might be lucky in terms of getting some good meat (not fish though). If you are a meat eater, there is some good game meat and sausages at Volailles et Gibiers de Fernando at Roy and St Dominique. There is also a duck store (Canard Libere) somewhere around St Laurent and Rachel. Never tried, but I think it got good reviews here.

                      And I would suggest a very non-cooked home-cooked meal here. Get some really good raw milk cheese and a fresh baguette from Jean Talon, some cornichons, perhaps a few saucissons (Fernando) or pates (I am not sure where you can get the best, but there is a Quebec only store at JTM and it is pretty good for cheese and pates) and make it a meal. If the weather was good, I would have suggested a picnic; but oh well. If my arteries could afford, that would be what I would eat every other day.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: emerilcantcook

                        Marché des saveurs also sells dried salami sticks from Grelots, bâtons et Cie that are out if this world. These little fellas are nitrite-free, are made in La Pocatière from local pork and there are simply phenomenal. There are a little pricey but they're worth every penny. They got spicy, regular, philberts an some others which escape me. Must try. There, you can also get your hands on En Robe des Champs jams that are overly pricey but yet again amazingly delicious, especially the vanilla, grapefruit and pear one.

                      2. I suggest you go to Vices et Versa on St-Laurent to sample some of Québec's finest microbrews. They offer a wide selection of beers from some of the best microbreweries in the province. The food is only so-so, although they have a cheese platter that seems interesting. They also offer beer flights.


                        1. This is me being a broken record:

                          A great bar (especially if you're already in the JTM area) is Vices & Versa ( www.vicesetversa.com ). They offer a constantly changing variety of Quebec microbrews -their website now advertises 29 different beers on tap!

                          1. Howdy!

                            Not to take anything away from Vices et Versa, but I would also recommend trying Le Boudoir, 850 av. du Mont-Royal Est. They only sell local beers (no multi-nationals masquerading as local) and on top of that their scotch selection is second only to L'isle Noire (and a very close second at that).

                            1. At the Jean-Talon Market, I suggest you stock up on spices at Olives et Epices.

                              1. Excellent! Thank you all for your suggestions. I certainly understand that it's difficult, even in Toronto, to find anything truly local anymore, but one can certainly try!

                                I am looking forward to perusing JTM, and I am definitely considering the foie gras poutine :)

                                Thank you all again.