Food Halls: The new urban concept for better food
Often when we talk about food court, we often think of fast food. For a few years, a revival is essential with the food halls. Explore with us some new options in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto. I had observed the phenomenon in 2013 during my trip to London when the Harrod’s itself had a huge Food Hall, a concept that I would have liked to see in the Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. I asked myself the question a few years ago.
The Montreal Food Halls
It is truly this place located in the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth which started the ball of renewal in the field of food halls in Montreal with its opening in 2017. You will find a market, as its name suggests, but also several ready-to-eat counters.
You can enjoy fish, meats, pizzas, cheeses, sandwiches, vegetarian dishes, in short, everything, fresh and with generous portions.
Members of the Accor’s All Program can even get points.
The Time Out Market Montréal
The latter was created in November 2019 on the 1st floor of the Eaton Center, in the part where the Les Ailes complex used to be. The concept of the Time Out group, created in 1968, was born in April 2014 when Time Out Lisbon launched the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira. Since then, it’s been madness. Expansion continues in several cities around the world including New York, London, Miami.
The idea of the concept is global in terms of design. Refined, with 16 restaurants run by different Montréal chefs. Think of Normand Laprise du Toqué who opened the Burger T there, Charles-Antoine Crête and Cheryl Johnson who brings the atmosphere of the Montreal Plaza, Dyan Solomon with the Olive and Gourmando and Le Foxy and many others.
The space is huge and the concept easy to understand. The service can sometimes be slow, from 5 to 10 minutes, but this is not a bad thing. Here, they focus on the quality of food and the dishes (a little more gourmet) are made by the minute. The variety is incredible and none of the restaurants offer the same selection.
The place is very popular, so I advise you to choose your place and then go get your dish. There is a bar area which is open to over 18s, it is the only place where you can drink alcohol on site, cocktails are recipes from different bars in Montreal: the Coldroom, Le 4e Mur, The El Pequeno, Le Mal Nécessaire and many more. The place is very lively and DJs are often present to add to the festive side of the place.
Ateliers & Saveurs is coming downtown
Ateliers & Saveurs, a cooking school totally different from what you know, is the first of its kind in North America and offers cooking workshops, mixology lessons and wine tastings in one place. The restaurateurs and founders Arnaud Ferrand, along with Éric and Fanny Gauthier, opened their first branch in Old Montreal in 2008 to share their passion for cooking, wine and mixology. Now, they will offer their lessons at the cooking school at Time Out Market Montreal, a place where guests of all skill levels can learn new recipes and discover the pleasure of cooking. Each workshop will be led by passionate and experienced professionals wishing to share their years of experience.
Le Cathcart Restaurants and Biergarten
Small neighbor of the Time Out Market, the latter opens its doors in January 2020 at Place Ville-Marie, and also in a commercial building of the Ivanhoé Cambrige group, like the two other food fairs mentioned above.
Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten was established as part of the Place Ville-Marie revitalization project. In a space of 35,000 square feet, we find new concepts of well-established chefs, including the renowned Antonio Park, and of Montreal’s emerging cuisine.
The new epicurean center of the city will offer a unique and varied culinary offer consisting of 3 restaurants with service, 9 counters and two cafes, in addition to the biergarten located under the imposing glass pavilion. This interior garden, a public space bathed in light and vegetation, will offer a festive social experience.
LE CENTRAL —Manger — Montréal
Project led by chef Danny Saint-Pierre, the latter is a consultant and investor and does not own a restaurant. They are icons of the Montreal gastronomic scene and essential emerging restaurateurs that can be found in this space. Inspired by the new wave of gourmet halls, LE CENTRAL differs a little from the others, as much by its experience as by its location.
LE CENTRAL is located at the corner of two emblematic arteries of Montreal, rue Sainte-Catherine and boulevard Saint-Laurent. It takes place in the Quartier des spectacles in the city center, the cultural and creative nerve center of the metropolis. A little more to the east than the 3 others mentioned above.
Here, it is truly a showcase of the incredible Montreal food offer: Portuguese canteen, authentic Neapolitan and Roman pizzas, gourmet burgers, healthy bowls, vegetarian and vegan dishes, cuisine from South and West India, snack – Laotian and Hawaiian bars, fried chicken, miso ramen in the purest Japanese tradition, the best of seafood, tasty cold cuts, fine cheeses and pork, selection of wines and cocktails, local microbrewery beers, elegant coffee and much more. A rich, diversified and affordable offer for gourmets of all tastes. Each restaurant has its own personality, and that’s what’s interesting here, you know immediately where to go.
We find in this gourmet hall more than 700 seats, in an open space, on a total area of 20,000 square feet. We go there to experience Montreal, its tastes, its smells, its culture; all under one roof. The ultimate destination for Montrealers and tourists who want to enjoy authentic, eclectic and multicultural Montreal. There will even be a terrace in summer, unfortunately not on the roof of the new building.
Quebec City : A first concept for Food Halls
Les Galeries Gourmandes, the foodie space at Les Galeries de la Capitale
I stayed in Quebec City during the holidays and it was the perfect time to visit Les Galeries Gourmandes. This is the new concept of Food Halls at Galeries de la Capitale. You will find more than 20 merchants and many specialties in a warm space where cooking is an art of living.
Whether you want to buy a delicious prepared dish – take away or eat on the spot – stock up on fresh food or find ingredients and utensils to impress the visit with its prowess in the kitchen, everything the essentials for lovers of good food can be found at the Galeries Gourmandes.
In addition to artisans and star retailer RICARDO Boutique + Café, whose offer has been enhanced with the addition of a ready-to-go counter, the 46,000-square-foot space welcomes Madame Chose. The latter a new restaurant concept signed Restos Plaisirs which opened in December 2019.
The Galeries Gourmandes bring together more than twenty merchants and traders including the Boucherie Florent & Fils, Kanel. Laiterie Charlevoix, Le Marché Bio-local, Le Roi du Boudin by Pied Bleu and many others.
The 48-seat kitchen space, Atelier Gourmand, much like that of Ateliers & Saveurs at Time Out Market Montreal, promises a variety of cooking demonstrations, cooking workshops, conferences and tastings of all kinds, without forget about private and corporate events.
The only weak point I see in Les Galeries Gourmandes is that its offer is not so representative of the Quebec City area. We see several existing chains there as well as businesses that compete. I think they would have benefited from bringing more unique concept like Madame Chose. Shops like Les Canardises, Nutra-fruit or Beignes d’Antan can be found in the shopping center.
Toronto, Here are the luxurious Food Halls
The first Eataly in Canada opens its doors
The very first Eataly in Canada to open in Canada is located at the Manulife Center on the corner of Bay and Bloor in Yorkville. This new location offers 50,000 square feet of high-end Italian cuisine.
Someone says seafood?
Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a delicious meal, cafes, take-out counters and restaurants will certainly have something for you. From the beloved classics (Neapolitan pizza) to the freshest and most sustainable seafood (the Toronto family of La Mer Fish Market takes care of the counter) and to the seasonal dishes prepared by the chefs, Eataly Toronto offers a variety of high quality Italian dishes and more.
After tasting these regional Italian dishes, discover the same ingredients used by the chefs in the market. Like their various stores around the world, the one in Toronto offers local and Italian products. These carefully selected by the experts. There are also small farmers from Canada and many artisanal producers in Italy.
Finally, take the Eataly experience home with live demonstrations, cooking classes and free tastings. It seems to be a trend in different markets as we saw earlier. As part of the events at La Scuola di Eataly, learn how to make your own fresh pasta, take tasting tours of the regions of Italy, and more!
An Eataly in Montreal soon?
It would not be surprising to see Eataly settle in Montreal in the old building of Holt Renfrew, since the latter have a partnership with Selfridges Group, owner of the luxury banner.
McEwan : The fine ingredients of a star chef in Toronto
McEwan food halls
Clusier founder, Pierre-Benoit Duhamel, told us that one of his favorite restaurants in Toronto is ONE, in the chic Hazelton hotel, by chef Mark McEwan. It is therefore not surprising to find McEwan’s gourmet halls in our list.
While McEwan Yonge & Bloor opened the chef’s latest project last year, the famed Food Network chef is revolutionizing food retailing to become a gourmet hotspot for local residents and visitors. Its three spaces include different counters depending on the locations. A cafe open all day, a butcher, a bakery, a pastry shop, a delicatessen, a product section, a sculpture station, hot and cold tables, a sandwich station, a sushi bar and much more. You can also indulge in home-made recipes from Chef Mark McEwan and bring inspiring products home.
The Saks Food Halls by Pusateri’s
Located at the intersection of Yonge and Queen and at CF Sherway Garden (video), The Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s is strategically located in Saks Fifth Avenue. The place offers gourmet ingredients, artisanal products, Epicurean dishes, and quick and casual dining choices.
The variety is endless. From the range of products overflowing with the freshest products of the season, to dishes prepared at La Cucina highlighting fresh take-out products, at well-stocked butcher counters at La Macelleria with the best cuts of meat, at the grocery store with his selection of the best food in the world. We find a little the original concept of the Artisans Market. The latter is much larger and with the population to support it 7 days a week.
If the appetite arises, you can go to the hamburger bar and make your personal choice; have a bowl of the best Poke in town; build your own salad, have a slice of pizza at BENE; or simply stop for a cappuccino and a pastry at the Café.
The fine products up front
Then there is the Connoisseur room which houses finely selected products. With local artisans, international master chocolatiers and a wide selection of bar coffee beans. Or browse the walls of imported olive oil and European vinegar. Hoping to see a Saks Fifth Avenue in Montreal one day …
The city of Toronto is full of several other gourmet food halls, which we will come back to on our next visit. But we can bet that Time Out Market will open in Queen City in a few years.
Cover photo: JF Galipeau