With so much charcuterie under one roof, you know you’re gonna be thirsty. So it’s a relief to see a large water dispenser front and centre (atop a stunning antique stove) when you walk into Murray’s Market, the new-but-looks-like-it’s-always-been-there shop on Dalhousie Street. And it’s not just water — it’s water with floating sliced strawberries and mint leaves. Nice touch.
Now, back to the meat. It’s the raison d’être of this Murray Street off-shoot located just around the corner from the restaurant that shares its surname. It’s impossible to miss the ethics-driven message — see recycled materials, locavore maps — behind said meat. This is pure Canadian farm product, much of it local to the Ottawa area. Steve Mitton, the man behind the counter with the meat-crazed look in his eyes, is on a first-named basis with the farmers, which gives customers, by extension, the feeling that they know Dan (the beef farmer) and Barb (who raises the heirloom breed piggies).
There are lots of choices for hot and cold sandwiches at lunchtime, and the selection changes daily. But if you’re feeling indecisive, go for a bit of everything and score yourself a cone of meat. Yup, you heard that right. Gimmick it may be, but you gotta try the meat cone once. Apparently Mitton believes it has curative properties. No clue what powers might lie in a paper cone filled with fried bologna, wieners, elk salami, bacon, and Berkshire ham topped with a dollop of pickled-egg mayo and crumbled aged PEI cheddar in the role of cheesy sprinkles. But it’s tasty and stabbing forkfuls of deli meat from a cone is bound to make you smile. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving a big leafy green salad for dessert. And be sure to grab a cup of that fine infused water for the inevitable case of the thirsties afterward.
I also sampled the house-made hot dog: a good juicy wiener, loaded up like a potato skin with melted cheddar and bacon strips, as well as marvelous homemade relish and ketchup and a shower of slivered green onions. Here a squishy-soft white bun serves as vehicle for the toppings. But spud-lovers would be wise to get their hands on the potato salad, available as a side dish or in a container for take-out. It’s studded with bits of bacon, green beans (scapes?), cheddar, and cornichon. I was equally impressed with the huge homespun cookies at the cash (especially the crispy chewy oatmeal raisin).
The Price: $8.50 for a meat cone
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Murray’s Market, 261 Dalhousie St., 613-789-FARM.