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Aug 26, 2004 09:13 AM

markets - Atwater and Jean Talon recommendations?

  • w

headed up to Montreal next weekend and interested in stopping in at one of the local markets and checking out some wonderful local cheeses, produce, breads and other specialties.

What is the best market in Montreal (Atwater? Jean Talon?) and can you recommend certain purveyors/stalls or things that are especially good this time of year?

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  1. They both have their strengths. Atwater is especially strong on butchers, has three cheese stores and is across the street from a good SAQ (state liquor) store. Jean-Talon also has some fine butchers, including Prince Noir, which specializes in horse and game meats; one of the city's best chesse mongers, Hamel; many more farmers and a better selection of vegetables all around, including gourmet produce at Chez Louis (where many top restaurants shop) and Chez Nino; the delightful Quebec-only products store, Les saveurs du marché, with thousands of products including condiments, wines, beers, cheeses and meats; a servicable SAQ store (with another going up on St-Laurent); and much more. In terms of character, Jean-Talon easily takes the prize. It also has some of the city's best street food (merguez sandwiches, crepes, méchoui, fried squid, roasted chestnuts in the fall, maple taffy in the spring, etc.).

    What's more, the Jean-Talon Market is in the middle of Little Italy and so steps away from great espresso (Cafe Italia, Cafe International, the espresso machine purveyors on Jean-Talon and St-Laurent), pizza (Napolitana, International), Italian pastries (head for Alati-Caserta, 271 Dante across from the church, 514 271-3013, and try to resist their lobster tails, cannoli and cookies), grocery stores (Milano on St-Laurent), cafes, restaurants, etc. Alep, an excellent Syrian restaurant, is nearby on Jean-Talon, and in a message below quincy speaks highly of a Lebanese resto in the same area. Asian stores and restaurants have begun springing up (on the corner of Jean-Talon and St-Denis, for example). And don't forget Un, deux, trois... chocolat (7010 Casgrain, 514 803-3673) or the Dante Hardware store (corner of Dante and St-Dominique) for shotguns, ammo and a great selection of cooking equipment.

    Jean-Talon Market is also more convenient to the metro (Jean-Talon and de Castelnau stations).

    On another board, a couple of San Franciscans have recently raved about the JTM, saying its what other markets can only dream of being. Visitors I've taken have been drop-jawed. Don't miss it, especially this time of year, when the bounty of the harvest is on full, mind-boggling display.

    11 Replies
    1. re: bftp

      thanks for the wonderful post! It sounds like Jean-Talon it is!! Can't wait. I happen not to live in SF and have serious envy for their market at the Ferry Building, so I sit and drool over what awaits me next week.

      1. re: bftp

        Our main purpose in visiting Montreal Sept 17-18 is our semi-annual shopping spree @ Jean-Talon. Recently read a guide which says "haggling is expected" !!??. Have I disappointed the vendors in the past by not doing this?

        1. re: clare

          Well, there's no harm in trying. Mostly it depends on the vendor, the quantity of produce involved and the time of day. Vendors in stores tend not to cut deals except for cases of figs and the like and regular, high-volume customers like restaurants. Farmers in the stalls, especially the smaller ones, can sometimes be convinced to lower prices or throw in an extra ear of corn or whatever, especially late in the day or when sales are slow. I don't often haggle, though I once managed to get a vendor to give me the basket along with the bushel of apples I bought from him.

        2. re: bftp

          Sami Fruits at the Jean-Talon market has closed; we'd been suspecting that for some time now as they were no longer open on Mondays and Tuesdays - very odd for a greengrocer. Obviously no great loss in terms of freshness, and recently so poor that even the ultra-cheap prices didn't make the place worth a visit. Still, somehow I'll miss it as it was the essence of a working-class immigrant place, full of people from the world over. I think the East/Southeast Asian places over on St-Denis and Jean-Talon have taken over the downscale market in the area, and their quality is better. (Thinking especially of Thai Hour).

          Wonder what on earth the premises will become.

          1. re: bftp

            bftp: I second everything you've mentioned, but I have to take exception to Les saveurs du marché. The store that preceded them was a wonderful place, stocked to the gills with pretty much the same products at about 1/2 the price. They also did some of the best patties and somosas in town, and the owners were the most wonderful, helpful people. I went travelling for 1-1/2 years, and when I returned, the store had transformed into what it is now. The new owners, arrogant and disingenuous, took great pains to tell me all about how dirty and filthy the last proprietors were, continually insinuating that "those people" live like animals.
            I will never shop there, ever. And not simply because I can buy most anything they have at other places for far less.

            1. re: bomobob

              bftp - I was unaware that Les saveurs had changed management. It is true that I found their prices greatly increased.

              1. re: lagatta

                Oh, it's not just the management; the whole store changed. I'm guessing they just bought out the people who were there before, and took over the store.

              2. re: bomobob

                Yes, Les saveurs has changed (though the personnel have never been anything but obliging with me, they still stock lots of stuff I don't see elsewhere and their selection of Quebec cheeses may be the best in town) and Un, deux, trois... chocolats is no more. But note the dates on the original posts: more than three years ago. It's always confusing when long dormant threads are revived.

                1. re: bomobob

                  I am not sure everybody is speaking about the same place: le Marché des saveurs du Québec is at JTM. The owners are the same from the start : Antonio Drouin and his wife Suzanne and theire daughter Isabelle and boyfriend Simon who runs the cheese departement. The way the store operates is that producers "rent" the shelf space and the products are sold the price the producers want them to be sold. Only products from Québec producer ( exept for a few cheeses) are on the shelfs.

                  Les saveurs du marché is at Atwater market and they sell products from all over the world .I have been there only once , so I dont know their history

                  So , who is talking about wich shop ?

                  1. re: toto

                    Isn't it Les Douceurs du Marche at Atwater?

                    1. re: cherylmtl

                      Yes, it's les Douceurs du Marche, first level, Atwater market, next door to the fish shop. Olive oils, vinegars, teas, condiments, spices, honeys, and a million other cool, neat things. And nice guys behind the counter also!

              3. Just noticed that the Latin-American grocery/butcher's (Carniceria Mundial?) just west of the market on Casgrain just south of Jean-Talon has closed, there is yellow tape around it, though strangely it looks like there are still a lot of products inside. It is a single-story structure, perhaps the land has become too valuable. But Safar just south of it remains closed.