Tribune Tastes: Le Central

Montreal is in the midst of a food court revolution, with three new food spots slated to open downtown in the next year. The McGill Tribune’s Student Life team visited Le Central, the first and largest of the three, and highlighted some dishes to try from its wide range of restaurant options.

Le Tio Joaquim from Cantine Emilia

Cantine Emilia is a Portuguese grill offering a wide selection of Portuguese chicken, sandwiches, salads, and poutines. The outside is patterned with images of azulejo tiles, which are common in Portugal and Spain. Le Tio Joaquim came with two pieces of chicken covered in the restaurant’s famous sauce and a large portion of fries. The slightly spicy sauce was a delicious topping for the perfectly cooked chicken, making for a filling and reasonably priced meal. This Portugese chicken spot is certainly worth a return visit.

Vegan carnitas tacos from Bonita’s Taco & Deli

Bonita’s Taco & Deli is a Le Central–exclusive restaurant offering a modern take on traditional tacos, including meat, fish, and vegan options. Their delightful vegan carnitas tacos, which consist of king oyster and enoki mushrooms with black garlic on organic local tortillas, are fresh and savoury, although they don’t quite pass as actual carnitas. At $3.75 each, their tacos are the perfect size to pair with an assortment of agua frescas and deli options.

Margherita Con Stracciata pizza from Morso Pizzeria & Alimentari

The diverse range of toppings at this Roman market-style pizza stand, which includes pancetta coppata, prosciutto and mushroom, smoked salmon, zucchini, and potato, makes for a striking range of options. The Margherita Con Stracciata is a classic, with tomato sauce, grana padano cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and basil. In addition to their pizzas, Morso offers a selection of artisanal sodas, wine, tapenade, and packaged charcuterie meats. To complete the Italian culinary experience, order a chocolate mousse or tiramisu, served in a sleek reusable jar, for dessert.

Kailua poké bowl from Kamé Snack-Bar

The outpost of popular Hawaiian snack bar Kaméhama is sleek, pleasantly pink, and features a simple menu of customizable poké bowls. The brightly coloured Kailua bowl, a pre-set base of torched salmon, spicy mayo, sesame, and green onion over rice, was perfectly customized to my taste. Kamé also offers an inspired range of smoothies that incorporates goji berries, silken tofu, and quinoa. 

Laab (Lao meat salad) from Thip Thip

Thip Thip looks like it was transported right from the streets of Thailand: With colourful lighting, a bamboo stick menu board, and a full view of the chefs meticulously crafting the food, the snack bar radiates a fun and authentic energy. Inspired by his Thai Issan and Laotian roots, Chef Athiraj Phrasavath presents a simple menu of traditional dishes. Basil is the star of the pulled chicken Laab, but it is well-balanced between the spice, sweetness, and crunch of the rest of the ingredients.

Raspberry black pepper and passionfruit white chocolate ice cream from Bagado

Le Central is the only spot in the city to find this innovative ice cream label, whose name roughly translates to “Butterfly River” in the Indigenous Colombian language Emberá. Inspired by delicate and complex flavours, Bagado forgoes standard ice cream fare in favour of unusual combinations like cacao and lime or pear and chocolate alongside simple pleasures like honey and banana.

Blueberry-chocolate doughnut and a glass of oat milk from Trou de Beigne

Trou de Beigne offers a wide assortment of perfectly sized “scout” doughnuts, with flavours ranging from apple crumble and maple bacon to the decadent Oreo-studded white chocolate blizzard. The blueberry chocolate donut was absolutely indulgent and paired beautifully with a tall glass of oat milk on tap.

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