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Road trip question – Gourmet markets in Toronto, dining in Kingston

Tabrams Jul 11, 2011 09:05 AM

Hello my Canadian brothers and sisters to the south. (I can say this with some degree of accuracy since I live in Detroit).

I’ll soon be relaxing in the beautiful northwoods of Quebec (near Montreal) for a weeklong vacation. Since the border crossing is a hassle, even if you’re not carrying contraband, I was hoping to do all of my food and drink shopping for the week once I cross.

So here are my questions: Are there any quality gourmet markets I can hit on the way? I’m looking for charcuterie, cheese, fresh meat, etc…any local specialty products would also be good.

I reckon that my best bet will probably be in the Toronto area. We’re blowing through on 401 so something within 10 or 15 minutes of the highway would be ideal.

I think we’re staying a night in Kingston, too. We ate at some kind of fish joint there last year that had an acceptable poutine but I would look for something better this time. If anyone knows the dining and market scene here, I would appreciate the input.

Last question, am I pretty much screwed for decent table wine? I’m particularly fond of Loire Valley French wine in the $15 range. Is something like that going to be impossible to find?

Thanks in advance for your help.

  1. clienta Jul 11, 2011 11:05 AM

    My family is not far from Kingston but in the US. We often take a little road trip to Kingston to indulge in one of their many incredible restaurants. My favorite for poutine is La Chien Noir. It is located in downtown Kingston at 69 Brock Street. Their website is http://www.lechiennoir.com/ The poutine is made with fresh cut fries, shredded duck confit, Quebec triple cream brie, green peppercorn & cognac jus. It gives poutine a whole new meaning!! Another must try in my opinion is Olivea. It is located in downtown Kingston at
    39 Brock St. Their website is www.olivea.ca/ Their grilled calamari with a spicy red sauce
    & aioli melted in my mouth. I also had beet & goat cheese salad (the portion was on the small side) but very tasty. There is also a great pub, we love to go to have beers but the name escapes me. Have fun! And do report where you have poutine. I just it!

    Chien Noir
    69 Brock St, Kingston, ON K7L1R8, CA

    39 Brock St, Kingston, ON K7L1R7, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: clienta
      JennaBean Jul 11, 2011 11:55 AM

      Le Chien Noir is great for dinner, but that's not really poutine you've described. If you're a purest poutine is always always fresh cut fries, chicken gravy and curds.

      Seeing as the OP is Quebec bound I wouldn't suggest wasting the calories on poutine anywhere in Ontario. Quebec the home of poutine and IMO is the only place they do it right.

      Chien Noir
      69 Brock St, Kingston, ON K7L1R8, CA

    2. Tabrams Jul 11, 2011 10:50 AM

      Thanks, all. Sounds like Bayview Village Mall is my one-stop shopping point for wine, cheese and charcuterie.

      For fresh produce, the friend I am with is taking me to the farmer’s market near the town where we are staying in Quebec, so that is covered.

      I am definitely going to try Cambodian when in Kingston. I am huge fan of Vietnamese, we have a rather large community of Southeast Asian immigrants in the Detroit-Metro area. There are a ton of Thai places here but I’ve yet to find one that really nails the cuisine. I will have great expectations for Cambodian.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Tabrams
        TorontoJo Jul 11, 2011 11:11 AM

        Here's the mall's website for directions and hours. You'll see they are just off the 401 at the Bayview exit.


        1. re: Tabrams
          looosia Jul 11, 2011 11:24 AM

          You can look at the menus ahead of time for Phnom Penh (335 King St. E., just west of Princess Street) located downtown. Again, it's a very casual setting--the Cambodian restaurants in Kingston are not fancy at all--but the restaurant has lots of room in case you are dining with a large group.


          I was at Phnom Penh three weeks ago and the food was just as good as when I lived in Kingston for a few years.

          I just looked up Cambodiana (the other Cambodian restaurant that I recommended) and apparently it has gone downhill in the past while due to management changes.

        2. c
          crawfish Jul 11, 2011 10:35 AM

          I would suggest you check in with the Montreal board and buy your fresh foods closer to your destination.

          1. l
            looosia Jul 11, 2011 10:35 AM

            In Kingston I second JennaBean's recommendations for Wooden Heads for stone-baked pizza and Chez Piggy for eclectic (in a beautiful courtyard patio), though it's been a while since I've been to both. Also, surprisingly, Curry Original is a nice, formal Indian restaurant right by the waters beside the Holiday Inn. If you like Thai food I suggest that while you are in Kingston you try Cambodian food. There is a fairly ample sized Cambodian community in Kingston (I know, it's unexpected!) and there are tons of great and cheap Cambodian restaurants to try. My favourites are Phnom Penh on King St. and Cambodiana on Brock St. at Montreal St., both downtown. Huge portions, different flavour than Thai, but honestly it's worth trying even though they are not fine dining. Whenever I pass through Kingston I stop just to eat Cambodian food.

            Also in Kingston they have a outdoor summer farmer's market in the parking lot for the City Hall near the lake, just off of Brock. It's been years since I've lived there so I can't tell you what they sell these days.

            Since you are going to be in Québec I suggest you post on the Québec board for some suggestions as well as writing about the area is off topic here. There are lots of great markets in Montréal that I and other QC CH'ers can direct you to (I live in Montréal but from Toronto). I can tell you right now that you should not eat poutine in Kingston--or outside of Québec in my opinion--since you'll be passing by Québec anyways.

            Hence, I'd suggest you get your wines from the LCBO in Ontario since the LCBO always has a huge selection of wines (better than Québec's SAQ) and get a few items in Toronto if you want, but I'll warn you now that the good markets in Toronto are no where near the 401. Maybe if you got off the 401 and onto the Don Valley Parkway where you can go to Brickworks for organic produce or the St. Lawrence Market (but parking's difficult there). But in Toronto, you won't find any gourmet markets near the 401, at least none that I am aware of.

            Wooden Heads
            192 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L2Y8, CA

            St. Lawrence Market
            92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

            Cambodiana Restaurant
            161 Brock St, Kingston, ON K7L1S2, CA

            Chez Piggy Restaurant
            68R Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L1A5, CA

            Curry Original
            253A Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L2Z4, CA

            1. j
              JennaBean Jul 11, 2011 09:30 AM

              Oh and for dinning in Kingston I like Wooden Heads Pizza and Chez Piggy for casual but good food.

              Wooden Heads
              192 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L2Y8, CA

              Chez Piggy Restaurant
              68R Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L1A5, CA

              1. e
                edfs72 Jul 11, 2011 09:23 AM

                Might want to check Pusateri's at Bayview Village since it's just off the 401 if you want a gourmet grocery store that is convenient for you. There's also an LCBO at that mall and a Loblaw's if you want a "cheaper" grocery store.

                1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: edfs72
                  TorontoJo Jul 11, 2011 09:39 AM

                  Agree with Bayview Village Mall as your best bet. Pusateri's will have pretty much everything that McEwan's would. The LCBO there has an excellent Vintages section. And there is a Kurtz's Orchard store in the mall that has some lovely products from the Niagara region (jams, chutneys, tapenades, spreads, etc.) -- a lot of the products are open for sampling, too.

                  1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                2. j
                  JennaBean Jul 11, 2011 09:13 AM

                  While you will pay more than the average fine foods market McEwan's would be your best bet in terms of location and selection.

                  You should be able to find many table wine options at $15 at the LCBO. They won't blow you away but they will be more than drinkable. For a white I really like the Cave Springs Dry Resling at $14.95 a bottle. It tends to be one of my fav cheap white wines.

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