Here is the second part of my report on Montreal’s excellent Jean-Talon Market from my recent trip to Montreal. The first part covered produce and those food establishments we did not eat at. This report focuses on the few places we did eat at. I will repeat my caveat from the first report: I am not pretending to offer anything approaching a comprehensive or educated guide to Jean-Talon Market. I’ve been there once; we wandered and ate fairly randomly; I took pictures at some places and not at most of the others (this was also random, except I took photographs everywhere we ate). I’ve probably left out many of the most iconic vendors and we probably failed to eat some of the most popular foods at the market. So it goes. I hope to be back again in Montreal in a couple of years (I really love this city) and will try again then. In the meantime please consider this (and the first part) an insufficient but sincere advertisement for Jean-Talon Market: if you go to Montreal, go there.
I said above that we ate pretty randomly at Jean-Talon. There was one exception to this: I was hoping to eat at La Boite aux Huîtres, an oyster stand I’d read good things about. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a successful venture as everything I’d read referred to an outdoor stand in the summer; I am happy to report that it was indeed successful: apparently once the weather turns cold they come indoors and take up residence inside Poissonnerie Aqua Mare, an excellent fishmonger’s. Alas, one of the other things I was hoping to eat at the market was not available. This is a deep-fried seafood counter that’s a part of the aforementioned Poissonnerie Aqua Mare; we were told it was closed till the spring—I guess with the market mostly enclosed they don’t want to be frying fish all day long.
Anyway, oysters were not the only things we ate (though we did eat a lot of them). We started out with some pastries and a ham and cheese quiche for good measure. Dinner at Joe Beef was going to be very late that evening, you see and so we had to make sure we weren’t going to get hungry in the evening and ruin our appetites. So with our stomachs settled we wandered down to La Boite aux Huîtres and took seats at their little bar. A couple of dozen oysters later we wandered back down the aisle of food vendors and after a brief stop at a counter that was handing out samples of cherrywood-smoked chicken wings, we decided to get some poutine for dessert. And not just any poutine: poutine with pulled duck and gravy with foie gras. It seemed like the right thing to do. Don’t worry we walked three miles after this and managed to work off about 10% of the poutine—this meant we had room to stop for some kouign amann (but that’s a post for another day).
How was it all? The oysters were excellent as were the pastries (the Portuguese pastel de nata—those of you who’ve eaten Macau-style egg tarts at better dim sum houses will recognize these); the quiche was pretty good. As for the poutine, we managed to eat all of a very large serving and that is the best compliment I can give any poutine whether it has pulled duck and foie gras in the gravy or not. I know not everyone likes to click around in the slideshows in my posts but if you want to know which oysters we had and which we liked more than others you’ll have to look in the captions. Sorry!
The prices were all very good. The pastries cost a pittance and the oysters were roughly $22 (US) for a dozen. No complaints.
This concludes my report on the most informal eating we did in Montreal. Coming up soon: more pastries at Patisserie aux Kouign Amann, brunch at Olive et Gourmando and dinners at Le Comptoir, Hotel Herman and Joe Beef (here’s my write-up of my previous dinner there to tide you over). I will spare you a report on the soggy croissant I ate at the airport Starbucks on the morning of our nightmarish travel day out of Montreal at the end of the trip.