Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Sep 2, 2009 05:26 AM

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto - what's not to be missed?

I'm travelling with a group of people who are not foodies, but they have given the green light on a trip to the St. Lawrence Market. This means that this might be my only foodie experience in Toronto this weekend. What should I absolutely not miss? I'm looking for things that I can only taste and buy while I'm in Canada (I'm from the East Coast of the US). I saw a St. Urbain's Bagels, which I believe is the classic Montreal bagel that is supposedly so good. I imagine I'll find some cheese (le chevre noir is a favorite already). What should I seek out?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. St. Urbain bagel is the classic Montreal style bagel, the oven they use at SLM is gas fired rather than wood fired so it's a bit of a pale imitation but you'll certainly get the idea.

    There are a couple of good cheese shops with stuff that import restrictions make difficult or impossible to find in the US, we have friends who visit from NYC occasionally and they always go for some French washed rind raw milk cheeses. You may also want to pick up some local products such as Niagara Gold which is a cheddar style made from Canada's only remaining herd of heritage Guernsey cattle.

    Of course the classic "eat it now" item is the Peameal bacon sandwich from the Carousel Bakery on the main level.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bytepusher

      These are the views of a former peameal bacon sandwich gourmand, fresser, glutton - chose your term:

      The Carousel is one of several choices for peameal bacon sandwich at the market. Personally, I'm not that fond of any of them any more, when I used to love them so much and have such a hard time choosing that I'd sometimes have two from different vendors.

      Carousel's bun is excellent - they are a bakery first and foremost, and their peameal bacon is lightly fried so that it is hot, but not crispy. The result is steamy, soft, chewy meat in a light soft Kaiser. I like my sandwich plain, without toppings, which leads me to the problem I have with their sandwich: I can taste the "prep" or whatever oil/grease they use, and it is not pleasant.

      Paddington, about 25 yards north, has crustier buns (and also crustier service!) with less character and flavor. Their bacon tends to be fried more with some browning and crispiness. although on a busy Saturday, they may not cook the bacon as much to speed things up. Their bacon tends to be saltier. If cooked well with some crisp, it gives a completely different peameal bacon sandwich experience that I personally prefer to Carousel's. The problems I have found lately is that, once again, I can taste the frying grease, and I think their bacon has become too salty in that past couple of years.

      A third option is Manos Deli, across from the north end of the Carousel location. Their is not peameal bacon, but whole smoked pork loin shaved on the slicer and piled on a bun. Since it is not fried, there's no frying grease to taste! Like Paddington, their bun is not a nice as the Carousel bun - just a standard Kaiser - but the thinly sliced bacon is tasty, albeit a bit salty. Warning: The Greek family that used to run Manos sold the place about a year ago, and the new ownership has been somewhat inconsistent with portions. I generally prefer the shaved roast beef sandwich at this location.

      If you like to pile on the toppings, you probably won't notice the frying grease that I complain about.

      1. re: OTFOODIE

        Having personally witnessed the What A Bagel truck pull up and deliver baked goods to Carousel I can very emphatically state that they are NOT a bakery first and foremost. What they are is a reseller. Better to go to Manos where at least you know they're butchers.

      2. re: bytepusher

        Niagara Gold -- I'll definitely have to check that out. Are there other Canadian cheeses that I should be checking out? I'm a serious cheese fanatic, so I'm most interested in the Canadian cheeses that don't make it across the border due to ridiculous US regulations or just small production volumes.

        1. re: glutton

          Ask the cheesemongers to sample some Quebec raw milk (unpasteurized) cheeses. I don't recall names, but they had some outstanding goat cheeses with ash or washed rinds. I once had a cow's milk cheese from Bothwell dairy that was studded with black truffle flecks. It was outrageously good. One shop, possibly Scheffler's, is an actual store you can wander into and pick up the cheeses and look closely at them. As long as you're willing to buy some cheeses, they are quite obliging about giving you samples and as much info as they have on hand. They also have some tasty antipasto in an olive bar near the cashiers. I once stocked an entire cheese and antipasto spread for a small party shopping entirely at this place (including fig spread, gourmet crackers, olives).

          1. re: glutton

            You might also look for Fifth Town Cheese's Lighthall Tomme, a firm goat milk cheese that just won a first at the American Cheese Society Cheese Competition, any other Fifth town cheese would be good too.

            Since your going to be there on Saturday you can also go to the North Market (in the building across the street) where there are two cheese companies who sell they're own production, Monforte dairy (where the product they have is temporarily limited while they build a new dairy building) and Ewe-nity dairy, both specialize exclusively in sheeps milk cheese.

            Right now my favorite Canadian cheese is "Blue Haze" it's a cows milk blue made in a Quebec monastery that is affinaged in Ontario where it is cold smoked. It's amazing.

        2. Instead of plain Peameal bacon, go for breakfast on a bun! Peameal + egg + cheddar on a country bun. Yum! It's perfect washed down with lemonade.

          Stop by Kozlick's if you want to sample and purchase interesting mustards (my favourite is the balsalmic and fig). If you go to the north market, which is open on Saturdays, there will be Montforte Dairy cheeses that are lovely. I particularly like their chevre with fig preserve.

          Oh and in the middle row, there is a large, bald bearded man selling scrumptious heavily iced cupcakes. Go for one of those!

          Enjoy the market!

          1. One of my favorite places on the market is Kozlik's Mustards. They have an amazing selection.

            1. Since you want something unique to Toronto, and if you and your group enjoy Jewish Deli, then I think you should convince them to go to Caplansky's Deli on College, which reopens this weekend. With the reopening, thinks might be a bit disorganized, but the smoked meat is unique. He started out by trying to replicate one of the better Montreal Smoked Meat recipes, but ended up creating something smokier that has been a major topic of discussion on this board. There are several threads; just search "Caplansky".

              2 Replies
              1. re: OTFOODIE

                I was wondering where he went. St. Lawrence market eh? Thats great, I will have to grab a sammy for lunch next week as i work in brookfield.


                1. re: HarryLloyd

                  Caplansky is a separate recommendation as a unique Toronto food - he hasn't moved to St. Lawrence. His new place is at College and Brunswick.

              2. Have you seen this listing and map link of the market? You can plan your travels through the shops. We enjoyed Carousel Bakery.