Montréal picnic and park pairings
by Alexandra Gauthier
Montréal summers are a thing to treasure. As the weather warms, our collective thoughts turn to how we can spend the most time outside, and there are few better activities than eating en plein air. To help you capitalize on this favoured summer activity, we’re offering a quick guide on where to buy a picnic, and which nearby green space you can go enjoy it in. All you’ll have to do is BYOB (by which, of course, we mean bring your own blanket).
DIY: Atwater Market + the Lachine Canal
Running since 1933, Atwater Market is home to a host of businesses ready to help you cobble together your perfect picnic. Start with some cheese at La Fromagerie Hamel to pair with fresh fruit from one of the outdoor vendors. Next stop is Les Cochons Tout Ronds for charcuterie, and finally a baguette from bakery Première Moisson (don’t forget to grab yourself an almond croissant for dessert). Cross over the footbridge right outside the market’s south end to find a bench along the historic Lachine Canal waterfront and delight in your spoils.
Gastronomy-on-the-go: Food trucks + Mount Royal Park / Parc Jeanne-Mance
Food trucks are still a relatively new thing to Montréal, with 2015 being the third year that street eats have been re-approved after a lengthy, 66-year ban. Making up for the decades-long downtime, the city now boasts diverse offerings of appetizing and inspired fare from an ever-growing list of mobile food purveyors. The wheeled kitchens operate on a rotating schedule, stationing themselves in dedicated spaces all over the city from May 1 to October 31. With two of such spaces located at the monument in Mount Royal Park, the trucks are perfectly positioned for you to grab your picnic and set up shop in the forested green space.
Traditionally Montréal: La Banquise + Parc Lafontaine
A hot mess of French fries, gravy, and cheese curds may not sound right when considering dining al fresco, but hear us out: with Montréal’s famous 24hr Plateau poutinerie mere steps away from the beautiful Parc Lafontaine, the two come together in a truly spectacular marriage. Open since 1968, La Banquise serves an extraordinary 32 variations of Québec’s most-loved dish. Once you’ve made your choice, it’s a short wait before your poutine is given to you hot, fresh and ready to go. Your bounty won’t have a chance to cool before you reach the park, so be sure not to burn your mouth as you commence your feast. This is what we mean by joie de vivre.
À la carte: Jean-Talon Market + Jarry Park
Jean-Talon Market is a great bet all year round, but it’s during the warm months that it’s truly magical. For picnic day, start by grabbing a sausage and sauerkraut sandwich at Balkani, the Eastern European charcuterie counter. Suppress the temptation to eat it straight away, as it’s sure to taste better paired with a Québec microbrew picked up from Le Marché des Saveurs du Québec, and topped off with a couple of donuts from Polish bakery, Wawel. With your picnic assembled, it’s time to leave the market and head to Jarry Park, about a 10-minute walk away. The park is worth the travel, as you’ll soon realize once you take a seat under one of its sweeping willow trees and watch the cattails sway in the pond. Now you may devour that sandwich.
Full service: Dinette Triple Crown + Little Italy Park
Soul food jewel Dinette Triple Crown offers up arguably the best ready-made picnic experience Montréal has to offer. Treat yourself to Dinette’s stick-to-your ribs barbecue and classic Southern sides, and place your order as a picnic. Prepare to be delighted as Dinette packs you up a red-checked daydream complete with mason jars, a tablecloth, hot sauces, and cutlery, all in a wicker basket. Walk across the street and set up with other diners in the adjacent Little Italy Park. If you’re lucky, you might catch a band performing in the park gazebo as you tuck in and remember why Montréal is your favourite city in the world.
Alexandra Gauthier is a young Montrealer who loves to eat, drink and be merry with friends in neighbourhoods all over the city.