Charcuterie. The word is music to the ears of any meat-lover. It comes from Chair-Cuite, the French term for “cooked meat”, and is used to refer to any kind of preserved meat: sausages, pates, terrines, bacons, you name it. Most often, in France, charcuterie refers to pork products, but not solely, and in Montreal, the most famous form of charcuterie is our peppered beef brisket, otherwise known as Montreal Smoked Meat…
Of course, with our city’s wealth of French chefs and immigrant populations (Italians, Hungarians, Spanish), each with their own traditional recipes for charcuteries of all kinds, this is a great city to become a shark for Charc’.
Our latest, greatest stop for charcuterie is at chef Segué Lepage’s new-ish wine bar, Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins. This warm and delicious little spot on Saint-Laurent was recently named one of the best new restaurants in Canada, and with good reason! The basement of his blond-wood wine bar is a temple to the transformed pig, and during off-hours, you can watch the magic through the big window in his cutting room (sale de decoupage).
Lepage really knows his stuff. His classic assiette de charcuterie features a chorus line of lomo, pâté de campagne, coppa, porchetta di testa (Italian headcheese), saucisse sèche, fennel saucisson and soppresatta. And not only is his meat board note-perfect, he also has a blackbord of specials, market-fresh plates created around his cured meats and other delicacies. Note: Le Comptoir is packed to the gills during happy hour and in the evenings, so be sure to call ahead.
There are other stops worth making on the Montreal charcuterie trail as well. At Les Trois Petits Bouchons, an atmospheric stone basement on Saint-Denis, they make their own terrines, mousses and saucisses, and pair them passionately with natural wines hand-selected by the house sommelier.
If you’re in the neighbourhood of Jean-Talon Market or Atwater markets, why not stop off to sample our favourite charcuterie kiosk? The Cochons Tout Ronds (round little pigs) of the Magdalen Islands make some pretty heady stuff: besides their hams, saucissons and other delicacies, including pigs ears and feet, last week when I stopped off they had a sale on all the ingredients for a good cassoulet (bean stew from the south of France): Salted pork, Toulouse sausage and more.
At Brasserie t!, funky little sister to Montreal’s venerable Restaurant Toqué!, the charcuterie board is as lively as the neighbourhood: expect to find a chicken liver pate, beautiful headcheese, soulful duck rillettes, served with crusty bread and a personal pot of cornichons, or little pickles.
Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins, 4807 Saint-Laurent, (514) 844-8467
Les Trois Petits Bouchons, 4669 Rue Saint-Denis, (514) 285-4444
Les Cochons Tout Ronds, 7070 Avenue Henri Julien, Jean Talon Market, (514) 904-2645
Brasserie t!, 1425 Rue Jeanne-Mance, (514) 282-0808