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Tony Boulton

French Market in Chicago

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I went over the weekend and it was kinda nice. I have the disadvantage of having been to lots of public markets, and doesn't compare to what you find in most non-US first world countries. That said, our summer, outdoor markets are getting pretty good, but a year-round, indoor market space has been sorely lacking in Chicago.

There was a big crowd around Pastoral (wine, cheese, bread), so I didn't look too closely. There were a couple more nice looking places selling meats and cheeses. There were several stalls with produce and a florist.

In terms of - I'm not sure what the ideal term is for this - "food the folks at the stall cook for you", we had some really yummy crepes from Flip Crepes. We also saw (and smelled!) some nice looking tacos at Buen Apetito and Vietnamese at Saigon Sisters. The requisite cafe slot is held by Lavazza. Sadly, the folks at Frietkoten didn't seem to be up and slinging frites yet. I was all set to get their smallest serving with curry ketchup and some sort of mayonnaise-based sauce - but it was not to be - well, there's an excuse to go back again.

Additionally, there are a patisserie and a chocolatier, some additional bakeries, some crafty stuff, popcorn and at least one soon-to-open smoothie stall.

When the closest thing to a "chain" or franchise is Lavazza, that's pretty good. It isn't on my normal commute, so I won't be a regular there, but it's in the commuter train station that serves the well-to-do northern suburbs, so a fair number of those folks will be stopping in for produce, cheese and similar. The pace of condoization in the area has slowed significantly, so I don't know how many people will be living within walking distance. All-in-all, it's a nice start for Chicago - let's hope it leads eventually to something more like the St. Lawrence market in Toronto.

Edited by tomdarch (log)

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While I like the concept, I'm not sure where in the DFW area this would work. With several Whole Foods and Central Markets and another smaller upscale chain spread all over the metroplex - plus the Dallas Framers' Market being open year round with many local farmers' markets open half the year or more - it would have to have many very, very special somethings to compete.

We can already get great produce, bakery, pastry, meat, deli, cheese, seafood, chocolate, beer, wine, coffee and prepared take-out at Central Market and Whole Foods. In some of these categories there are better or same quality but different in stand-alone shops, but even if all of those few merchants opened a stall, I doubt it would divert people from their regular, more accessible shopping. It would get some tourist and foot traffic if located in a mall like the one in Chicago, as well as the occasional checking-it-out shopper, but would that sustain it?

Nonetheless, I wish them well in Chicago with this project and would be glad to see it here.

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I've been a couple of times and I really like the market, as it provides a major upgrade in terms of lunch options for those of us working in the Loop. On opening day I got a sandwich from Pastoral that was fantastic (and the folks working there were doing a very nice job of managing an extremely long line). Yesterday I had a "Classic" banh mi from Saigon Sisters that was ok, but probably not worth $7 (there's a pork belly banh mi there that I am looking forward to trying). As for the rest, the fresh meats and fish look fantastic. I look forward to picking up stuff there over the summer to grill when I get home from work.


Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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