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Montreal Supermarkets--at or near Downtown

  • Ora May 20, 2009 03:27 PM
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I'm returning for Jazz Fest. Last time I didn't get a chance to do something that I really love when traveling--visit a well stock, well priced supermarket. The weather was cold last time I was there so I didn't get to visit markets like Jean Talon. I plan to do so this time of course. But I would like to visit a large supermarket. I'll have a car so I can drive anywhere there's parking, but I was hoping to find one downtown, near Sherbrooke West. Which are great Montreal Supermarkets in that area, or anywhere within a reasonable drive. Also, feel free to suggest any unique Canadian/French products that I should pick up while there. Thanks. I am thinking of buying some Robin Hood Flour to try.

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  1. I don't know what you expect to find "special" in a large supermarket; pretty much the same stuff as in any other supermarket in N.A.

    I suggest going to smaller "supermarket" like P.A. (park av. or du Fort st.) for sometimes weird stuff (greek oriented) or maybe Mourelatos (??).

    Better would be to go to Adonis (for middle eastern stuff) or one of the bigger asian stores (I'm not too familair with those, I think there a big one in Ville St-Laurent and on the south shore).

    Anyway for "Quebec"/Local food stuff, your best best is to go to Jean Talon Market and the "Marché Des Saveurs" store (@ jean talon market).

    1. I understand the appeal of strange supermarkets. Whenever I go somewhere new, I spend so much time just looking at packaging and pointing things out to my interest feigning companions. I feel like a kid in a toy shop.

      IGA Louise Ménard in Complexe Desjardins is one of the better supermarkets in town. You'll find a lot of speciality, gourmet and not so gourmet products there.

      Les 5 Saisons in Westmount is pretty interesting, too.

      Loblaws/Provigo is IMHO the best chain we have here and are usually full of fun finds including the President's Choice house brand.

      -----
      March
      150 Rue Ste-Catherine Est, Montreal, QC H2X, CA

      5 Saisons (Les)
      1250 Avenue Greene, Westmount, QC H3Z, CA

      Loblaws
      2925 Rue Rachel Est, Montreal, QC H1W, CA

      7 Replies
      1. re: SnackHappy

        I second Loblaws/Provigo for the President's Choice products. For someone who has recently migrated to Canada from US, I can attest that browsing through the unique offerings the brand provides is fun (but then again, I like browsing supermarket isles anywhere). Most other regular supermarkets will offer products that are more or less similar to what is sold south of the border, but PC sometimes goes pretty obscure (especially in the frozen food category). Besides the sheer idea of "premium store brand" idea is intriguing.

        Here is a list to pre-browse so that you can see if this is something you'd be interested in: http://www.presidentschoice.ca/FoodAn...

        Adonis/Akhavan is also a good choice for Middle Eastern leanings. Marche Hawaii is the South-Eastern Asian equivalent.

        1. re: emerilcantcook

          Provigo is not in any way typical of a Montreal supermarche.
          They (St Cath) have practically no meat section and half the store is set up for frozen and ready to heat precooked meals.
          5 Saisons is nice but pricey , but the IGA in Alexis Nihon, realy has the Montreal flavor.
          One can spend a day checking ou the different breads alone.
          Excellent meat section with many things we don't have here in the states, excellent produce and nice cheese section, also a fresh fish section.
          This place is huge compared to NY standards

          1. re: tombombadillo

            I don't think the OP is looking for meat or fish to take to US or just to look at (mmm bavette porn!). My understanding is that s/he is looking for packaged/dry goods to take home, unique ingredients, condiments, etc., not excellent produce or meat that is unfortunately perishable. But I might be mistaken.

            PS: I am not sure if you are aware, but Provigo is a huge chain (under its mama brand Loblaws), not a single store and some of their branches are gigantic. The one on St Catherine/Towers is perhaps one of their most understocked branches. If the OP decides to go to a Provigo, I strongly suggest him/her not to go to this one. It is just one step up from a well stocked Deppanneur with very limited range of store brand items and fresh stuff.

            1. re: emerilcantcook

              Hi Emeril--you read me right :)

              1. re: Ora

                I would go to 5 saisons on Bernard street or 5 saisons on Greene avenue.
                I also think Adonis has Some interesting items. I would also check out the atwater market. I like the grocery store in la cite it's a Chinese grocery store but they Cary some very good products.
                I also enjoy places like Fressers on dacarie and Malibu on monkland. Some restaurants like olive and gourmando and fromagerie on sherbrooke street west have some cool stuff.

                1. re: Alyson777

                  «I like the grocery store in la cite it's a Chinese grocery store but they Cary some very good products. »

                  It's called Eden and it's Korean, not Chinese.

                  1. re: Alyson777

                    <<Some restaurants like olive and gourmando and fromagerie on sherbrooke street west have some cool stuff.>>

                    Remeber you're sending someone from out of town there - so it would help if you had the name right, so they can find it if they want. It's called La Foumagerie; however I certainly wouldn't send anyone looking for a great supermarket there - they have a pertty minimal selection, and nothing that you can't find for less elsewhere that I can think of.

        2. Fleur de Cel, fiddle head ferns, black and white peppers, confit in a jar(specislty shops)
          British meat pies, and the cookie section has a great assortment of Quebec only treats

          1. Atwater Market - Les Douceurs du Marché is a must visit...

            1 Reply
            1. re: buzz_sapien

              Aside from Atwater market, I do basic groceries at the IGA in Alexis Nihon, I agree with above that it has the best selection, Mourelatos has a bad selection of anything, PA is a little better but it's cramped in there.

              I think the OP would be looking for things like Mapo spread, Whippet cookies, May West cakes,
              typically quebec stuff you can't find in the states. I'm living in Dallas for a few months part time and I find myself missing those things, also pickled beets are inexistent in the states
              and for me they are a basic.

            2. If all the OP wants is a supermarket and they have a car, I highly recommend hitting an IGA, Provigo, etc., in the Plateau or NDG. Less cramped, which means probably more selection, but more importantly, not paying downtown store prices (.30 to almost $1 more on virtually every item adds up).

              Oh, and better chance of finding parking on the street.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Shattered

                Actually, the prices at Loblaws will be cheaper than for the identical item at Provigo (not sure why, but it's almost consistently the case), so the OP would be better off heading further afield to one of the larger Loblaws than staying in Plateau and shopping at Provigo (and they all have parking lots). You can easily combine a visit to Jean Talon market with a trip to the Loblaws in Park Ex (at Parc and Jean Talon).

                1. re: cherylmtl

                  You don't need a car to go to the Jean-Talon/Parc Loblaws: it is built right at a métro station (Parc) and a commuter train. If you do have a car, there is underground parking with an escalator and an elevator, making it very accessible.

                  Very close by, the former Delta has become a South Asian supermarket, BK.

              2. Thanks to all for the suggestions so far--keep them coming :)

                1. What about Eden in Galeries du Parc? (parc ave @ milton) A bit north of downtown, but they've got some interesting goodies from what I recall...(I haven't been there in a while, mind you, so take this with a grain of salt)

                  1. If you can get King Arthur flour where you are, then I'd skip the Robin Hood - IMHO King Arthur is far superior (which is why I drive down to Vermont to buy my flour...)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: cherylmtl

                      Really? Interesting. I wanted to try the Robin Hood Whole Wheat Bread Flour. I never see Whole Wheat Bread Flour here in the supermarket (in terms of a national brand)--tough to get as speciality item too.

                      1. re: Ora

                        If you check Robin Hood's website you'll see that their whole wheat bread flour is not available in Quebec. If you want to go local, I think a better option would be to get some La Milanaise flour. It's available in the organic section of most larger supermarkets. I particularly like their sifted bread flour. It makes lovely and tasty rustic loaves.

                        http://www.robinhood.ca/product.detai...

                        http://www.lamilanaise.com/anglais/mi...

                        1. re: SnackHappy

                          Ok--thanks for pointing this out.

                    2. If you're simply looking for a super-large supermarket - Milano's is nearby JTM if you venture out that way. Unfortunately, having not done much venturing South, I cannot say for certain what is accessible here that isn't there (Robin Hood flour surprised me!) other than the standard maple syrup etc. fare.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: afoodyear

                        "5Saisons is nice but pricey" : this is true but still maybe more typical Montreal than a provigo. PA on du Fort is okay, and if the Plateau is not out of the question, PA Marche on Parc is too(Bus 535 every 6 min. ). For me, the typical Montreal means the Metro Chevrefils on Laurier (Laurier Metro). Le Fromentier is just down the street too, bonus.

                        1. re: afoodyear

                          Oooh yeah, I definitely second Milano's!

                        2. There's a new IGA that opened at Place Dupuis, on Ste-Catherine, and 2 streets east of Berri St. It's really nice and you can find a lot of specialty products. Great service too!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sophiaaa

                            That is wonderful news for people in that neighbourhood, who had to walk all the way to the Métro at Papineau métro or in recent years to the Complexe Desjardins IGA, for a full-service supermarket. Also wonderful for those of us who often attend conferences and similar events at Université du Québec à Montréal, and of course for students, faculty and staff.

                          2. If you're looking for any expensive/hard to find oils and vinegars, or special salts and seasonings (all that type of stuff), Fino gourmand just opened up on Guy and Sherbrooke.

                            -----
                            Fino March
                            1616 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC H3H, CA

                            1. I share your fascination with supermarkets. I went to college in Montreal and spent several years working there. You do have some good options although sticking to downtown will not yield the greatest "Montreal" experiences. In my opinion, from a culinary perspective Montreal is neither Quebec nor is it Canada. Supermarkets stcoked and marketed for Canada or Quebec are not representative of the cultural diversity that defines Montreal.

                              Loblaw's are a Canadian chain that strive for quality but are not unique to Montreal. Their President's Choice brand is great and culturally varied. There are several locations in Montreal but they are representative of Canada more than Montreal although you will find some locally produced foods specifically cheese. Comparable to Harris Teeter or Randall's in the states.

                              Provigo and Metro are Quebecois chains with affiliations to larger Canadian chains you will find some of the more specifically Quebecois junk food and you may actually find a few locally produced foodstuffs. Their target demographic are less prosperous than Loblaw's and the stores are more likely to be found in rural Quebec. Things will be cheaper than Loblaw's. The stores are representative of Quebec but not of Montreal. Comparable in style to HEB or Safeway.

                              Maxi and Super C, are working class discount supermarkets that offer mainly american processed foods with bilingual packaging. Comparable to WalMart for groceries.

                              In my opinion, truly Montreal supermarket experiences are to be found at:

                              5 Saisons, in Westmount (downtown) and Outremont. A truly Montreal supermarket "chain". Upscale, bilingual, classy, expensive and uniquely Montreal with its blend of cultural influences.

                              Marche Adonis, on Sauve st. in North Montreal (Another in the West Island). Another uniquely Montreal supermarket chain. A unique experience in North America and a testament to Montreal's huge Middle Eastern and North African community. Mtl has the largest Lebanese community outside Lebanon. This is my favorite supermarket in Montreal.

                              Marche Jean-Talon will provide the best local fare and possibly the best 365 day a year "farmer's" market experience in North America.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: the5atyr

                                Provigo has been owned by Loblaw's for many years now, and is definitely more expensive. Maxi is also owned by Loblaw's, if I'm not mistaken. And 5 Saisons is owned by Metro.

                                1. re: cherylmtl

                                  Yes, 5saisons is owned by Metro; the chain tailors their metro stores according to the area they are in, for example the Beaconsfield metro incorporates elements of 5saisons, because it's a more affluent area. For example, I used to buy my Illi espresso pods at Metro but would not have found them at IGA or Loblaws.

                              2. I have been told by a trustworthy source that the downtown Provigo on Parc (just above Sherbrooke) has been completely redone and is now quite wonderful. Haven't been yet so can't give any details.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: johnnyboy

                                  There's a pharmacy at the space occupied by the print/panting store.
                                  The back portion is taken up by organic products.