The gourmet food hall trend has arrived in Montreal, with a major downtown hotel, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, opening its Marché Artisans.
The sizable 8,000 square food market opened up this month in the Fairmont’s lobby, pretty much directly above Montreal’s Central Station, and seems a promising alternative to the basement-level railway station food court and its various fast food chains.
Food halls have been somewhat of a trend this year in North America, popping up in a range of North American cities — but while many other halls feature chefs or restaurants setting up shop in the halls on a more individual basis, the Fairmont’s version is more centralized, with the hotel having appointed a director and chef to put together a range of counters.
The result is part upscale grocery store, and part restaurant: it has different counters for pastry, ice cream, crêpes, the bakery, chocolate , roast meat and vegetables, the pizza, the fish and seafood, charcuterie and cheese, and ready-to eat meals. The options to eat on-site are wide ranging: from oysters, sea urchin dishes, and grilled lobster through to roasts with vegetables.
Fairmont have even employed so-called “gourmet advisors” who (particularly on the grocery side) can guide customers with information on how to prepare their purchases, or how to pair meat, fish, produce, and more.
As the name would suggest, Marché Artisans is focusing on quality fare, and much of it is fairly local: Charlevoix lamb, Boileau venison, and preserves and pickled items from the Laurentians’ Gourmet Sauvage.
ChefJean-Philippe Desjardins oversees the whole operation: he has experience at local star Le Club Chasse et Pêche, as well as in the UK with Gordon Ramsay.
The food hall is the final addition to the Fairmont after its extended closure for renovations, joining the hotel’s new restaurant Rosélys, and cocktail bar Nacarat.
STATUS — Marché Artisans is open at 900 René-Lévesque West from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with restaurant counters open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.