The St. Lawrence Market is a labyrinth of produce, fish, meat, and bread mongers trying to out hustle the competition. For locals, it’s a great place to get fresh ingredients. For travelers, it’s a can’t-miss lunch spot. Among the main attractions are butchers displaying fresh cuts and entire sides of roasted pork.
Carnicero’s is a newer kid on the butcher block, but their roasted cured meats stand out. They look plump and bright pink. They glisten with freshly rendered fat. You can get carvings of back or side bacon on a roll and call that lunch. They cut it right from the display of warm, darkly-crusted meat and hand it to you in wax paper. It’s a classic carvery sandwich. Condiments here are woefully limited to a lowly bottle of yellow mustard, but we don’t complain. The pork is great.
Back bacon is the more exotic choice for us border-crossers, so we bite that first. It’s lean, firm, not too salty, and has a clear pork flavor. It’s certainly an elevated experience for those used to eating “Canadian” bacon from a package. Unfortunately, being used to streaky “American” bacon, we find that the sandwich eats pretty dry. After a few bites, we raise the yellow flag of surrender to the mustard.
Fortunately, they offer sandwiches from the side bacon that we prefer, and the side sandwich does not disappoint. It’s just a few pieces of impressively thick bacon served on a long, seeded roll. It looks like a hot dog that has been marbled with glistening, white streaks of fat. It eats something like a hot dog too. It’s soft enough to bite through easily, and the salty pink meat tastes unnaturally unctuous. It’s a great version of something that’s already great: thick, slightly-sweet bacon. Forget lettuce and tomato. We don’t want cheese. We wouldn’t want anything else on this one-ingredient wonder.
There is a full lunch menu of prepared foods, but almost everyone comes for bacon sandwiches. Some just get slices of bacon wrapped up in paper. If you’re not the type to eat handfuls of fatty bacon for lunch, the pot pie is quite good too. It takes a delicate approach and is full of a rich, fragrant, peppery thickened stock with shreds of chicken rather than chunks of meat and veg.