I just spent a week in Montreal and was struck again by what a great food and dining destination this city is. Combine a young population, amazing markets, Francophile roots and a rich blend of cultures, and you have a recipe for some great eats.
Food-lovers will want to check out the Jean-Talon market, a short Métro ride north of the touristy downtown area. Summer showcases an astounding array of fresh fruit and produce, easily on par with such top-tier markets as the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries and others are presented like jewels on shelves, and a generous sampling policy lets buyers taste before they purchase. Freshly made artisan cheeses are heaped on shelves at Le Marché des Saveurs du Québeca, which offers the best of Quebec’s myriad small dairies and cheese makers. Boutique spices, oils and vinegars from around the world are collected at Olives & Épices. A walk through the market makes a person hungry, and there are plenty of cheap places to take the edge off. Try a Breton-style crepe from En Compagnie des Crêpes or a refreshing fresh-spun sorbet from Havre aux Glaces in such flavors as complex Cassis or surprising Pear and Black Pepper.
Restaurant-wise, Kitchen Galerie (conveniently located about 100 feet the market, from where it sources its ingredients) stood out. Owned and operated by a cadre of chefs, this is truly a chefs’ restaurant as the chefs work both the front and back of the house. Great appetizers included a foie gras sealed in a Mason jar and poached in a dedicated dishwasher, which gets paired with toasted brioche and a muscat gelée. Main courses included seared fresh skate wing over a complexly spiced bed of couscous. The menu changes daily, based on the market, and attending chefs will happily pull up a chair and chat with diners who want to learn more about the area.
60 Jean-Talon E.