5 Things to Try at Montreal’s Newest Food Hall, Le Central

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It’s been almost a month since food hall Le Central opened its doors, injecting over 20 new restaurants into the Quartier des Spectacles area.

Le Central puts forward an interesting mix of options — there’s a range of brand-new restaurants like churro bar Mignon and fried chicken counter Ho Lee Chix, alongside other vendors that already exist elsewhere in Montreal, like the Standard café, and Portuguese spot Cantine Emilia. This is in contrast another very-soon-to-open food hall, Time Out Market, which consists almost entirely of known quantities, with a list of “greatest hits” restaurants on board, such as Olive & Gourmando and Romados.

While a couple of Le Central’s stands are still to open (pasta spot Ragú, Indian snack bar Le Super Qualité), we’ve had a chance to peruse most of the offerings. Since eating your way through two dozen restaurants at once is a tall order, here are a few picks for your first visit.

La République Démocratique du Jambon

This artisanal charcutier hails from Sherbrooke, but its Le Central outpost is its first foray outside the Eastern Townships. Stop by the butcher shop-inspired counter for a taste of perfectly cured ham, porchetta, and more. RDJ (as it’s abbreviated) is mostly keeping things simple, a smart plan to emphasize the quality of its house-made products.

On the menu is a charcuterie plate, but those who are choosy or just don’t want to invest in the whole hog can get small portions of individual meats. The menu is rounded out with classic sandwiches (jambon beurre, BLT), plus a couple of heartier options, such as Le Canard, with smoked duck breast, a cheese raclette, fig purée, and apple. Those looking to drink can choose between a selection of mostly rustic craft beers from microbrewery 11 Comtés, another high-quality artisanal business from just east of Sherbrooke.

Bagado

Sure, it’s November, and ice cream might not seem like the most weather-appropriate suggestion. Try to put that thought aside, because Bagado’s weird and wonderful sweet creations are a treat. The flavour combinations may strike some as unusual, but take a lick and you’ll likely approve of options like apricot-carrot, chocolate-chai masala, and dark chocolate with espelette peppers.

There’s certainly a pan-Latin American element to the ice creamery — beyond the more out-there combinations are more straightforward choices like dulce de leche or banana (and it actually tastes like banana, not chemically-infused banana candy), among various other tropical-leaning options. For those who can’t do frozen treats when it’s snowing outside, there are also chocolates, cookies, and cakes.