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Steer me through Mtl -- all of it; winding small passageways; obscure back alleys?

Hi Chiens! (Is that right?? Maybe I shouldn't bandy about words I'm not thoroughly familiar with -- please forgive me if that's got some unintended connotation other than "hound"...)

I'm newly arrived in your fair city and absolutely loving it. We have eaten out many times in the last couple days and each and every time has been fabulous; I can't imagine being happier! It is dh's observation that people just seem _content_ in this city. Perhaps it's the health insurance? Or could it really just be the food?? Whatever ... I confess to intimidation at the prospect of asking for a list of must-visits because I think that list will be really, really long.

Still, I'd love to ask for some directions. It sounds as if this market, Jean Talon, is unique. I have yet to figure out where it is -- might I ask for pointers as for a rank visitating virgin? I figured out where the old part of Mtl was today and even used the metro. But that's about as advanced as we are.

I would love pointers to good, "natural", organic, imaginatively-prepared local food. Especially markets or restaurants that prepare (or sell in the case of "whole" foods) same. We aren't hugely wealthy and anyway, my own pleasure from a restaurant meal is leavened by value as well. It has to be really *really* incredible food to overcome a huge price tag; in the end it's easier to come up to that height by fiddling with the cost: when it's cheap I please easier. Ethnicity matters not: we love it all. My family includes a couple puppies that eat most anything though it is true that surrogates for the proverbial forbidden fruit of macaroni and cheese attain the greatest accolades (e.g. today's cheese quiche and cheese ravioli in cheese sauce were quintessential in that regard). Because I cook a lot, for me the definition of a good restaurant starts with the proposition that if I can make it probably I don't want to order it out -- ordering from a menu means the selection must be comprised of food I cannot make better and/or cheaper at home. Directions or at least listing the neighborhood would be really helpful!

We don't shun meat though one of us eats only (some) fish; steakhouses are probably of less interest therefore. Something more interesting than straight-up cheese or lettuce for a vegetarian option would be appreciated. Good bread is well-appreciated. Any integration of history or cultural information would be lapped right up. Mention of markets of interest for raw materials would be hugely valued as well (cf Jean Talon, I think -- but where is it?? Also, I heard tell that there is a reenacted market in the old quarter toward the end of the month -- is that true? neat? hokey?)

Anyway, thanks for sharing highlights of your city. I think one could eat out every night for the rest of one's life here and still not get through it all.

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  1. it would help to know where you're coming from to get to JTM.

    It is *basically* at the corner of Jean Talon and St. Laurent, but one or two blocks east. By car, driving up St. Laurent to Jean Talon then hanging a right to Casgrain is the simplest way to get there.

    I always couple a JTM visit with a trip to MIlano- the city's best Italian grocery. I generally park near it, then walk over to the market.

    Milano
    6862 St Laurent, Montréal, QC H2S 3C7‎

    Get familiar with Google Maps, you'll need them for all the info you're bound to receive.

    http://maps.google.ca/maps

    1 Reply
    1. re: C70

      C70, you can't drive south on Casgrain any more. Some years back they made Casgrain one way north. You can drive north turnnig right at Mozart from St-Laurent, or drive along Jean-Talon as you say then turn right on Henri-Julien. That will get you to the underground parking. It is very hard to find a parking space right beside the market.

      De toute manière, je suis chat, pas chien. But oddly, "une chatte" in French also means... a pussy. That is why I'm lagatta and not lachatte.

    2. Welcome to Montreal!

      > Also, I heard tell that there is a reenacted market in the old quarter toward the end of the month -- is that true? neat? hokey?)

      Yes - here's some info on it:

      Pointe à Callières public market
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/644030

      18th-Century Public Market
      http://www.pacmusee.qc.ca/pages/activ...

      I haven't been before so don't know how good/hokey it is!

      re: JTM - you already got directions from C70, so here's their site with opening hours, list of shops, etc:

      http://www.marche-jean-talon.com/

      Some more info, some a bit out of date but still useful

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Tal... (gives street boundaries at the top
      )http://www.montrealfood.com/jtalon.html
      http://www.hour.ca/food/food.aspx?iID...

      If taking the metro, the Jean-Talon stop on the blue/orange line is closest:

      http://stm.info/English/metro/a-mapme...

      Have fun enjoying the city!

      p.s. - a locals' tip: since you've moved here, you'll sound less like a tourist by saying "Old Montreal" instead of "old quarter" or "old part" or "old town." ;-) In French it's "Vieux Montréal" or "Le Vieux" if you want to sound hip. ;-)

      9 Replies
      1. re: kpzoo

        Another local's tip: hound means lévrier, a type of dog (chien). When you call someone chien in french, it's usually not a compliment. ;-)

        1. re: Campofiorin

          well calling someone a hound in English is no complement either, but according to title of this blog we are all hounds, chowhounds that is!.....You might want to go to parc jean drapeau(metro jean drapeau) to experience the hellenic festival thist weekend, you can enjoy greek food, dance, music in outdoors. I used to go for the greek food when it was held in Old Montreal, its fun but the food was not as extensive as the amazing hellenic festival i attended in Boston last summer And do take in the historic market in old montreal the following weekend, its charming and since they try to do it authentic basics kind of foods are exhibited from that time period. The food in both of these events are not free so you will need some $, but cheaper than restaurants.
          "The Hellenic Flame Festival which will be held for 3 days will be a greek-quebecoise celebration and a Mediterranean experience in Montreal style. The festival will have no entrance fee and its opening hours will be from 1:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m from the 21st to 23rd of august."
          http://www.hcm-flame.com/en/about.html
          http://www.parcjeandrapeau.com/42-The...

          1. re: Campofiorin

            oops. I was afraid of that after I wrote it (hence the warbling that followed).

            1. re: aliris

              Don't worry, I was just pulling your leg a little.

          2. re: kpzoo

            OMG -- thank you for these links on JTM. I know it sounds ridiculous if you're familiar with the venue, but from the other side of the foreigner's fence, I had no idea what or where the place was. Forgive me, but it sounds like a clothing store! I just didn't really understand what a large open-air multi-vendor market (sounds so at least) it is. It sounds really incredible and I can't wait to get there. Metro sounds like a great plan but then .... how to lug home all the food?

            Thanks also for the info on the Greek festival this weekend. Again, I know when you're familiar with the goings-on it sounds ridiculous that one could be so clueless, but I have actually been trying for 30 minutes to figure out what proverbial festival 'must' be happening this weekend with little success. So thanks for the gracious explaining of the seemingly-obvious.

            And sorry about not saying where I'm living -- I don't actually know what term to use. It's in NDG I'm pretty sure, and close to Monkland -- so whether that makes it "Monkland Village" I'm not sure because I think the street is very long.

            I know I sound a veritable dolt, not knowing even the name of the neighborhood where we're living, but I've been busy moving!

            TIA for all the above and more...

            Does the "Link to a place" feature work for this board?

            1. re: aliris

              there are some decent threads on the NDG area- just use the "search this board" feature. You must not miss Akhavan- at the corner of Sherbrooke & Grand.

              1. re: aliris

                > Does the "Link to a place" feature work for this board?

                We don't use it much on this board because any word with an accent (i.e. Montréal) gets cut off and it's too frustrating. Several of us have reported this bug but have been ignored.

                > It's in NDG I'm pretty sure, and close to Monkland

                If it's west of about Grand, you're in the Monkland Village. East of about Grand there's no particular name but it's still NDG. As C70 said, there are lots of good threads about NDG and Monkland Village - and if you want to know something specific that you can't find in another thread, probably best to start a new post.

                Hint for searching the board: after you've entered your search terms and pressed submit, change the search order to "sort by relevance" - you'll get much better results that way.

                1. re: kpzoo

                  you just got your directions reversed, LOL. East of Grand is Monkland village.

                  1. re: C70

                    > you just got your directions reversed, LOL. East of Grand is Monkland village.

                    Yup, thanks! It's not like I live there or anything. ;-)

            2. "It sounds as if this market, Jean Talon, is unique. I have yet to figure out where it is [...]"

              Might I suggest you try using a map?

              http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&s...

              1. Thanks, all -- I gotta say those wood-burning stove bagels are the best thing I have ever eaten in my whole entire life. Except there is such stiff competition for that moniker all within 800m. Like, wow.

                1. Hey, it's one year later but if you're still in town and you're still after mac & cheese, Café Local (St. Viatur at Esplanade in Mile End) makes a good, comforting yet unusual one.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Claire Ann

                    18th century market, blurb..."cheesy", if you please.

                    1. re: Claire Ann

                      Really? Some one is suggesting Cafe Local? I have NEVER had a decent experience there. The food varies from awful to just passable and the service is even worse. haven't tried the mac n cheese, but I've given that place enough chances to never return. They put loads of awful balsamic reduction on their sweet potato fries! EW!

                      -----
                      Cafe Local
                      200 Rue Saint-Viateur W, Montreal, QC H2T2L5, CA

                    2. Sigh. Another pair of verbose, star-crossed tourists or students. Unfortunately, a lot of people equate crumbling old buildings with good food and that just isn't the case in this town. Your meals are all going to taste fantastic for about five days, but if you're staying here any longer you better get off the food blogs and websites because they're no help at all. There's one restaurant I recommend you try, the eponymous Belle Province. That's all you need to know about this godforsaken island.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Delmare

                        I dont know if you are being sarcastic, but that is definitely one restaurant I would recommend NOT going to.

                        1. re: Delmare

                          That's probably the least helpful reply in the history of the board. I rather feel that you can try a new restaurant every day recommended from this board and not run out of good food for months or more.

                          To the OP, I would suggest checking out little India (Jean-Talon West) if you haven't done so already. There is more than just the Indian also, check out the local African places up there too. Just walk down the street and when something smells good, go investigate.

                          Also, yeah, avoid Belle Provence. Worth avoiding unless your coming home from the bar and can't make it to La Banquise.

                          What an amazing Island.

                          1. re: Delmare

                            Godforsaken island? Sorry you're having a bad day.

                            La Belle Province - just a very so-so fast-food chain. I can walk to at least 20 more interesting places than that in a few minutes from my house, and I'm not including the more pricy and upscale ones.