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Best shopping at St. Lawrence Market?

m
merlot143 Feb 5, 2010 02:03 PM

I'm now working close by so I can shop during lunch hours. What are the best places for meat, produce, dry goods? Places to avoid? I know the market can be hit and miss. Store with good prices would be esp. appreciated.
Thanks.

  1. g
    Gary Feb 6, 2010 05:38 AM

    After trying various butchers with mixed results we settled on La Boucherie a few years back and they've never let us down since. Good quality, surprisingly decent prices, friendly helpful staff.

    Most of the non-organic veggie places are pretty much interchangeable with food terminal products. We usually hit the one immediately inside the northeast doors for convenience and good prices. For better quality seasonal and organic vegetables both the organic place on the top floor and the one in the basement are pretty good, but much pricier.

    Dominos and Lively Life in the basement are neat places to find packaged products that are hard to find elsewhere. Lively Life veers Asian and Latino, so you can get things like curry pastes/powders, udon noodles, ancho/annatto paste, corn tortillas (frozen), hominy, etc. But watch the prices, you can easily pay double for something you can find at Metro or Sobey's. Dominos is more Italian and European, they often (but not always) have decent San Marzano tomato tins for $2ish, which is a great deal. And between Dominos and Rubes you can probably buy any type of bulk flour, rice, oat or grain known to humankind.

    Carousel Bakery on the upper floor sells the best bread I've been able to find anywhere in the area. Every kind is abnormally delicious.

    For fish, our standby is Mike's on the top floor, but we don't buy a lot of seafood so I'm not too qualified to comment on their quality relative to the others. But I can say that what we buy is always fresh compared to past experiences with the fish counters in mainstream groceries.

    Finally, the Soy place in the basement is excellent. I'm not a vegan/vegetarian but even I enjoy eating their soy and their tofurkey. It's all handmade by the couple who owns the business, so it's not over-processed with scary chemicals. Definitely a great option if you're into exploring a less meat-centric diet.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Gary
      Googs Feb 6, 2010 06:07 AM

      If you like Carousel Bakery, you may as well cut out the middle man and go directly to the source. They get their stuff from What-A-Bagel.

      1. re: Googs
        g
        Gary Feb 6, 2010 08:04 AM

        Hi Googs, I realize they do not actual do the baking there but that doesn't change the fact that the product is good, and since there do not seem to be any What-a-Bagel locations downtown south of Eglinton, I'm pretty happy to be able to walk over to the SLM and buy my bread there.

        1. re: Gary
          j
          juno Feb 6, 2010 09:41 AM

          Some of Carousel's stock comes from What-a-Bagel, but certainly not all. What Carousel has going for it is a wide assortment from different suppliers of specialty and ethnic breads. No mad buys, but good selection.

          Indeed, there are no mad buys at all, at all, in the south market. And rarely a price difference. You'll invariably pay the going rate - and sometimes much more. An example: the hot sauce purveyor in the basement was offering Matouk's hot sauces this morning, regularly $7.99, for a sale price of $5. The regular price for that same 300-ml bottle in many food stores around town is $3. But that hot sauce specialist does carry a wide array of hot sauces and salsas for those who like lots of choice and little idea of what they want till they see it.

          Same goes for the three fish markets. In price and quality, there's little to choose between them. And their prices are among the highest in town ($10.99 per pound for rainbow trout fillets, for example, compared to $5.99 for the exact same quality at many places uptown). But the SLM trio do have a much wider range of fish steaks and fillets from which to choose.

          What's good about SLM is it's one-stop shopping in an entertaining venue, for which you will invariably pay a premium. I like Whitehouse Meats, though I suspect many of the other butchers have pretty much the same quality. Future Bakery is strong on rye breads, particularly the triple kimmel ($2.49). Stonemill Bakery does a good baguette (better, in my view, than Ace's product and, at $2.69, cheaper). It also does a good 11-grain sandwich loaf, and a solid challah. Its ryes aren't too tasty, though. Scheffler's is the most fun. You never know what's gonna pop up in its stock, though, as has been mentioned, watch out for the best-by date.

          1. re: juno
            t
            toboggan3 Feb 6, 2010 09:48 AM

            Perhaps no "mad buys" in the South Market, but some better deals in my experience. As an example: for the exact same bag of specialty pasta and artisanal olive oil, at Domino's Foods in the South Market the prices were substantially lower than the prices at La Salumeria up at Yonge and Davisville. In the case of the pasta it was 33% lower at Domino's.

          2. re: Gary
            Googs Feb 6, 2010 01:54 PM

            Shouldn't they call themselves Carousel Brokerage then?

      2. t
        toboggan3 Feb 5, 2010 05:55 PM

        Domino's Foods (south market - basement level) is always fun to explore. Great selection of olive oils and vinegars, nice selection of dried pasta including some hard-to-find shapes, etc, etc. It can be a bit hard maneuvering the narrow aisles especially on a Saturday, but definitely worth visiting.

        1. Googs Feb 5, 2010 05:41 PM

          Meat - La Boucherie upstairs
          Deli - Ukrainian Store Dnister downstairs
          Fish - Domenic's upstairs
          Produce - Harbourfront Foods downstairs and Ponesse upstairs
          Dry Goods - Lively Life and Rube's both downstairs
          Cheese - Olympic upstairs
          Coffee Beans - Everyday Gourmet downstairs
          Avoid - Any and all bakeries. You're better off getting baked goods at a regular grocery store. Honest.

          Now get out there, explore, and find your own favourites.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Googs
            m
            millygirl Feb 6, 2010 03:56 AM

            Hey Googs, I agree. I felt the bakery was nothing special but figured it was just me as they always seem lined up, esp. Futures in the middle. Most things look good but the taste just isn't there.

            Their is one bakery in the basement, is it Stonemill? They sell a fabulous cranberry grain bread. Very good.

            1. re: millygirl
              Googs Feb 6, 2010 05:15 AM

              That must be the only good bread they sell then. Thanks muchly for the tip. As payment, millygirl, I offer...

              Grab a croissant from Stonemill (not the best you'll have, but only a buck) and then head about six steps to the east and pair it with an espresso from Pasta Mia (roughly $1.75). That espresso is killer and makes the $2.75 brekkie worth it.

          2. JamieK Feb 5, 2010 04:21 PM

            Lucky you! There are many existing threads about what to look for at SLM but an update is always good. Don't miss Scheffler's for deli meats such as all kinds of prosciutto, great selection of olives and cheeses as well as dips.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JamieK
              estufarian Feb 5, 2010 07:35 PM

              Schefflers is a bit 'hit and miss'. ALWAYS check the expiry date (on anything that has one) - usually things are fine, but some of their stock doesn't necessarily rotate quickly (they are really bad with their 'premium' butters).

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