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Montreal Jewish Food [Split from Toronto]

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DDD, I'm a former Montrealer, too, and I'd like to clarify/update a couple of your points:

Ben's is no longer;
Wilenski's, while a nostalgic and interesting experience, is not a deli - it is a small lunch counter with a soda fountain, made famous in the movie, "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz", and best known for its "Wilensky's Specials", a grilled cold cut sandwich, and for its old-fashioned soda fountain drinks;
You can't talk about Montreal Jewish delis without mentioning Snowdon Deli (parent of Centre St. in Thornhill); I think it's the only one of the delis you mentioned that has chicken soup with matzo balls on the menu.
Moishe's could be considered a Jewish steak house - they have choppped liver on the menu and serve pickles and cole slaw, along with rye and pumpernickel bread.
Gibby's is not, and never was, considered a Jewish steak house, although the owner is Jewish.
For great Israeli food, there is a new place at Dufferin and Rutherford called Sofra Grill. Their falafel is amazing - crispy, light, and wonderfully seasoned, and their Israeli dips and chicken shawarma are wonderful.

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  1. Hi,
    I agree about Snowdon, although their chicken soup is not great (I don't think it's from scratch), and I guess you can add Famous Deli Boys to the list as well. I thought Wilensky's was worth a mention. When did Ben's close?

    23 Replies
    1. re: DDD

      -Ben's closed a few weeks ago. Bah. Humbug. No edible food there for decades.

      -Wilenski's might be interesting for ambiance (assuming it hasn't changed). Ditto for Beauty's. But I wouldn't call either one a "Jewish restaurant".

      -Famous Deli Boys wasn't very good in 1967, so I'd be very surprised if it is really good today (though, to be fair, Snowdon is much better now than it was then).

      - Schwartz still makes the best smoked meat (I know you disagree, FlavoursGal, but Lester's old fashioned, made by an industrial process, waters the experience down -- both literally and figuratively)

      - Moishes had a fancy place in First Canadian Place in the late nineties. The food was very good, but they blew it. Unlike the somewhat raffish Montreal ambiance, it was a very posh space for a Bay St clientele. The chopped liver, pickles, cole slaw, and pickled herring didn't fit in and they died quickly, though they were better and cheaper than Hy's (also owned by Jews) across the street. The space is now occupied by Reds.

      - Come to think of it, the Brown Derby made the same mistake at Yonge & St Clair in the early eighties.

      I don't think the ownership and "Jewishness" of a restaurant correlate all that closely. Schwartz hasn't been owned by Jews for many years and one partner in Centre St is Greek. During my time in Montreal, two Chinese places seemed positively Jewish: Ruby Foos (which was, I think, owned by Jews) and Bill Wongs (owned by Jan Wong's father). The deli in the Cote St Luc Shopping Centre was owned by Antonia Zerbisias' family. The Steeles Deli in Thornhill is owned by Chinese. Shopsy's may have been wrecked by Lever Brothers, but it didn't get better when they put Izzy Shopsowitz in charge. Shopsys is again owned by Jews, but it isn't a very Jewish restaurant in my opinion. Nor is Druxys or the Pickle Barrel, both delis owned by Jews.

      1. re: embee

        It's not that I dislike Schwartz's, embee, it's just that, although born and raised in Montreal, I was brought up on Delly Boys' smoked meat (never made in-house). It's my guess that I just wasn't exposed to Schwartz's smoked meat much. When we went to St. Lawrence St. for smoked meat, we usually went to Deli City. Believe it or not, when we went to Schwartz's, we ordered the rib steak, not smoked meat. Their rib came with an small appetizer of grilled hot dog and baby beef liver, and the steak was coated with steak spices and fresh garlic.

        1. re: FlavoursGal

          Good stuff, that rib steak. I remember it coming with the liver, a stick of karnatzel, a pile of smoked meat, and a pile of rye bread.

          1. re: FlavoursGal

            Ah, Delly Boys. A yearly Christmas tradition for me and a couple of buddies of mine from our shared childhood in Montreal when we're in town. Convenient because one's mother lives around the corner and we all have family near by. Great food? Not. Comforting? Yes. And I must confess a liking for their lead-weight knishes and latkes; though my sit down meal with the boys is an old-fashioned, medium-fat.

          2. re: embee

            While Ben's deli has closed, their commercial food division is still in operation(where they produce Ben's smoked meat & other products). Ruby Foo's was owned by Jews(during their heyday, they were the most profitable & biggest Chinese restaurant in Canada). Bill Wong's just closed for good after the holidays(their last day was January 7th).

            1. re: embee

              The deli in the Cote St. Luc was Ben Ash, owned by my family. Antonia Zerbisias' father owned the deli in the strip plaza just west of there ( I have long since forgotten the name.

              1. re: Ben Ash

                Before CSL, I seem to recall Ben Ash in the CDN plaza? Am I mistaken?

                1. re: RhondaB

                  Ben Ash was indeed located in the CDN plaza in the late 1960's and early 1970's.

                  1. re: eat2much

                    Was there one in Chomedey as well, or am I having false memory syndrome?

                2. re: Ben Ash

                  Hi Ben Ash,

                  I use to go to your Dad's place after my daily dip in the Hot Tub at Vic Tanny's. It was a hoot working out then having a Smoke Meat after

              2. re: DDD

                Growing up in Cote St. Luc, Delly Boys was our local deli. Never owned by Jews (I believe Sonny and Chico, older and gray now, are Italian), we had our share of smoked meat there, but my favourites were the hot chicken sandwich, the Michigan burger (like a Michigan hot dog), the pizza burger (a hamburger between 2 slices of pizza, topped with meat sauce - still on the menu!), and the liver knishes.

                While visiting my mother-in-law a few weeks ago (she lives in Cote St. Luc), I went out to Delly Boys to pick up an assortment of things for take-out. Ehh!

                1. re: FlavoursGal

                  Gotta put in a word for St. Laurent. Growing up there in the 70's we didn't have anything like Cavendish Mall so we hung out at the St. Louis Shopping Centre. I remember great smoke meat, knishes, latkes, varenykys(sp?), matzo ball soup etc. at the St. Laurent Deli. I'm not sure who owned it, but if I remember correctly most of the people who worked there were Greek. A couple of them eventually opened Stan's in the same shopping centre -- great steak sandwich.

                  1. re: Richard_S

                    Richard, my husband also grew up in St. Laurent (or "Veal St. Laurent", as his mother says it) and he, too, reminisces about St. Laurent Deli. I just phoned him after reading your post and he (Steven O.) verified that the deli was, in fact, Jewish-owned - a family by the name of Roth.

                    A fond memory of his is going into the deli for a piece of dry karnatzel before going skating in the park across the street (Houde???), and returning after his skate for a hot chocolate.

                    You probably went to the same school, too (Sir Winston?).

                    1. re: FlavoursGal

                      Ah yes. Dry karnatzel with mustard on a piece of rye bread for ten cents. Those were the days.

                      You're right about everything else... the park across the street was Houde (the other hang-out park being Chamberlan across from Talmud Torah) and I did go to Sir Winnie for high school.

                      1. re: FlavoursGal

                        No, I did not go to that school but the MCHS Volleyball team I was on beat them at volleyball when they first got going in the early sixties...made me proud...but I did not think about it until you mentioned the school....let me think, alzheimers and all, that was 45 years ago, I think...I must be getting ripe as in...well...ripe old age?

                        1. re: FlavoursGal

                          This is over a year later, but I just came across this thread. The St. Laurent Deli was run for many years by Leo Rock, a survivor. He bought it from the original (Jewish) owners, whose names I forget. Leo passed away in late 83, but I do not know who took over after.

                        2. re: Richard_S

                          I too remember Boras and the deliin the St.Louis Shopping centre.I lived on Laurentian Blvd in the late 60's and early 70,s I also remeber Chicken Haven and Oh Curly Q's best smoked meat around myn brother would go there and have it delivered by taxi to my moms house .We would also listen to Rosie talk about everything,she had wonderful comments.Also we were the ones who put the soap suds and pink dye in the fountain if any one heard of that.

                          1. re: Allan S

                            Does anyone know if Boras is still in business, Going back to montreal for a visit, grew up in St laurent and used to go there wanted to go back since Ben's is closed.

                            1. re: eagle

                              Bora's is no longer there, sorry.

                          2. re: Richard_S

                            I hate to change the subject but talking about St. Laurent, does anyone remember the name of the restaurant just across from Woolworths in the main part of the old city next to Steinberg's in the 50 and 60s?

                            I also knew the St. Louis Shopping Centre but not as well as the Norgate Shopping Centre (I am sure that is what it was called). I grew up on Mr. Donut delights across the street from the Plaza...it was my home away from home from the age of 14 whenever somone was driving that way for a treat on a Friday night. We used to drive almost 5 miles to get there when it was first opened in the 50s. Funny, I also spent my youth from the age of five or six at the Northmount YMCA but the only place to eat in the plaza I can remember was the other St. Laurent Woolworths. By 1972 I was an old married guy living in Toronto....ohhhhh...but the Brown Derby....yummie.

                            1. re: A Guy from Saraguay

                              Jewish food in Montreal hit the canvas for the last time with the closing of the Brown Derby. I feel as if I've been wearing a black armband all these years. There isn't a single place in town that makes kishke that could even be mentioned in the same breath as theirs.

                              Like a pain in my heart that just won't fade....

                              1. re: bomobob

                                That pain in the heart should be checked. It's the result of arteries clogged up by years of eating kishke, smoked meat, stuffed chicken, chopped liver, and much of the other unbelievably delicious "low cholesterol" deli we all knew way back when. (When we didn't know how to spell cholesterol!)

                          3. re: FlavoursGal

                            You are right, Sunny and Chico. I use to work nights doing the close up with Sunny and had a blast of a time, he would have us laughing all night. I use to live on Wolseley Ave.

                        3. Right on! A chicken shawarma with a taste like no other! Can't wait to try the sit-down dinners at Sofra.

                          1. I remember Ville St. Laurent deli on St. Loius I beleive.
                            There was a waitress "Burt" that gave her two cents of advice with every order.

                            I also remember Bora's on Decarie and the best smoked meat in St Laurent "Curly Q" in the Norgate shopping center.

                            Half the population of Ville St. Laurent went into a depression when "Curly Q" closed.

                            1. Does anyone remember Fine Bakery in the Caldwell Shopping Centre in Cote St. Luc? They had the best cakes and pastries: incredible swiss chocolate cake, eclairs, milles-feuilles, and the best German chocolate cake EVER. My mother would buy this cake for our birthdays.

                              I have never found a German chocolate cake that came close to Fine Bakery's. I've even tried googling the recipe, to no avail.

                              2 Replies
                              1. Agree that Snowdon Deli probably has the best smoked meat (outside of Schwartz's) but not being a smoked meat person, they also have great soup (bean and barley, matzoh ball) and deli take out. Best felafel in Montreal and kosher pizza is Pizza Pita on Decarie between Plamondon and Vezina - they have a drive through, awesome for Montreal winters. Montreal has a very large Sephardic community - Adar bakery on Westminster south of Cote-St-Luc road has wonderful baked goods (almond croissants to die for) and turkish salad, baba ghanouj, etc that you can buy to take out. Fressers on Decarie north of Cote-St-Catherine is Ashkenazi style take out - brisket, chicken, soups, knishes, cheese bagels...all the good stuff. Moishe's is by far the best jewish-style steak house (try the varenikas) and Gibby's is SO NOT!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mikjomom1

                                  >>Best felafel in Montreal ... is Pizza Pita on Decarie between Plamondon and Vezina - they have a drive through, awesome for Montreal winters.<<

                                  Better than Chez Benny on Queen Mary and Jerusalem in the Cavendish Mall? If so, so they have sit-down for those of us who don't do cars? (Please don't tell me I have to hire a taxi...)

                                  1. re: mikjomom1

                                    I have one fond memory of the Snowdon Deli - their great cheesecakes! WOW!
                                    Also nearby, I saw the Ten Commandments in the Snowdon Theatre when it first came out in 1956. What a picture! ..certainly a classic. Charlton Heston ... Moses,
                                    Yul Brynner ... Rameses, Anne Baxter ... Nefretiri, Edward G. Robinson ... Dathan, Yvonne De Carlo ... Sephora, Vincent Price... Baka, John Carradine ... Aaron. Certainly a suitable film to be shown in the Jewish Community of Snowdon and it sure fit well with the Smoke Meat we ate earlier. For a 12-year old at the time, it was not a film to forget...the smoke meat and cheese cake were great as well.

                                  2. For excellent from-scratch Matzoh Ball soup, try Plus Que Parfait on Fairmount, two doors down from the bagelry.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: MaeveH

                                      Can't wait to try Plus Que Parfait's soups. I also recently went to Dunn's deli downtown and thought their matzo ball soup was excellent - inspired me enough to do my own homemade version that was *almost* as good. ;-)

                                      1. re: MaeveH

                                        Plus Que Parfait, is this the place, that was making selling ice cream in the summer? If it's the same place, last I heard they were making their own home-made soups during the cold months.

                                        1. re: BLM

                                          Yep, that's the one. See Maeve's mini-review in the Hour:


                                      2. I miss Montreal! Lived my teens and 20's in Plattsburgh and now the only city I have in a comparable distance is Indianapolis and it does not compare at all.

                                        1. Snowdon Deli chicken soup is from scratch, but they may add some bouillon powder..I cant remember (I used to work there).

                                          The main serves matzo ball, but the broth is usually pretty salty, but I actually like it that way.

                                          I also rememebe the St.Louis Deli in Saint-Laurent. One of the owners (at least I waas told he was) nows works at Snowdon Deli.

                                          I make my own matzo balls. Manischevitz.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: spankyhorowitz

                                            Yep, good ole' matzo ball mix is the way to go.
                                            And I have to admit, I love my soup salty too cause thats how my grandmother makes it to this day (too many years of smoking...). Still, haven't found a place that makes it like her...unfortunately we only get it once a year now :(

                                            Just had some awesomely soft hummentashen from Montreal Kosher. Apricot, and have some strawberry waiting for later, never had strawberry before so it will be an experience (from the one on Victoria and Jean-Talon-ish).

                                            1. re: devilishlyj

                                              To follow up, the strawberry was ok, but I prefer the apricot. It was a little dry.

                                            2. re: spankyhorowitz

                                              I used to work there myself and yes they do use a powdered base.

                                            3. Please don't forget that Montréal also boasts a large Sephardic community - I remember yummy things at Boucherie Shalom in Côte des neiges - there are also good Sephardic places on Westminster.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                If you know the name of the bakery on boul, St-Laurent that is apparently famous for authentic hamantaschen, please let me know. I'm hosting a little Purim party tonight.

                                              2. The bagel place in the strip mall on Westminster, just south of Cote-St-Luc, turns out a mighty fine product IMO. saves me a trip downtown when I'm in the city December/January (or any time for that matter).

                                                1. The Old Smoke Meat,

                                                  I will never forget the good old days of going with the guys to Bens after Parade nights at the Black Watch. We would sit and talk and laugh and as soon as you would know it, it would be 5am. How sad that such a landmark would close.

                                                  Now may I ask if my old place of employment is still there, it was Deli Boy's. I also had my Smoke Meat there too. Also use to go many a times with some of the gang from the EMO, I was a member.

                                                  If anyone remembers, there was a house on Wolseley Ave close to Kildare Rd. that burnt, it was our Family home.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: vangary

                                                    Delly Boys is still there on Westminster near Cote-St-Luc. It was bought out recently and is under new ownership.

                                                    1. re: kpzoo

                                                      O damn, I had wanted to go and visit Chico and Sunny when I go back for a visit in May. I guess I can talk the new owners into giving Chico or Sunny a call

                                                      1. re: vangary

                                                        dont worry .........sonny still works there part time or maybe its chico..you can see them there no matter what i see them daily.

                                                        1. re: buttie

                                                          That's great. Can you do me a favor. Tell Sunny or if it is Chico that Gary from Wolseley Ave. said hello

                                                  2. What about The Main across from Schwartz's?

                                                    17 Replies
                                                    1. re: bigfellow

                                                      The Main is good! Unlike Schwartz's you can take your time at your own table, and it's got a wider menu of Jewish food. For eg, I really like their latkes. The liver is good, too. Schwartz's is hands-down the best smoked meat, but The Main does everything else better, imo.

                                                      1. re: Shattered

                                                        I love Schwatz's. But I too tend to go to The Main. No line ups. Youcan sit & digest your meal. The latkes are great and so is the chicken soup!

                                                        1. re: bigfellow

                                                          Same here, all the way! The varenekes at the Main are fantastic too. And since the smoking ban took effect, it smells really great in there :-)

                                                          1. re: bigfellow

                                                            Me too. Liked going to the Main after leaving the Colonial Turkish Baths

                                                          2. re: Shattered

                                                            I always like the main smoked meat sandwiches compared to schwartz because they are less salty.

                                                            Also is schwartz still considered a jewish deli since it's been apparently sold to greeks. Is this true?

                                                            As for Israeli food, With the many cultures living there, what is Israeli food?

                                                            1. re: maj54us

                                                              Whoa, don't know where you heard that one! Schwartz's is still run by Jews, for sure.

                                                              Bill Brownstein wrote a book on it's history; here's a blurb that'll give you the basics on it's ownership -it's only been sold once, and has been in that owner's hands for decades.


                                                              But to clarify something: it's not kosher. Neither are most delis. I realized this when I asked an orthodox friend how the Reuben sandwich (cheese + meat = not kosher!) could be a deli staple? He explained that delis are "kosher style" not truly kosher, but alot of the ingredients and dishes were kosher.

                                                              1. re: Shattered

                                                                For a Deli to be Kosher, it would have to have 2 Kitchens, one for Meat and one for Dairy. It's funny that eggs are considered to be Dairy but all an egg is, is a chicken that never came to being.

                                                                1. re: vangary

                                                                  Eggs are pareve (as are fish, fruit & vegatables). Any pareve food can be used in meat dishes as well as dairy dishes. Link: http://kosherfood.about.com/od/glossa...
                                                                  A deli by nature serves meat therefore 1 kitchen aught to be sufficient to satisfy kashrut laws.

                                                              2. re: maj54us

                                                                Unless Schwartz's has been sold since last summer, the owner is definitely not Greek.

                                                                "[Hy] Diamond is a former accountant who grew up in Rosemount blissfully ignorant of St. Laurent Blvd.'s culinary delights. He bought Schwartz's nine years ago."

                                                                1. re: carswell

                                                                  And it was bought or partnered by some Sri Lankans this last June. They expanded to having a take out place seperately next door.

                                                                  1. re: bigfellow

                                                                    «it was bought or partnered by some Sri Lankans this last June»

                                                                    Please substantiate. The article, which is about the expansion, is dated June 20, 2008, and makes no references to Greeks, Sri Lankans or other partners. Web searches turn up nothing. I don't track Schwartz's developments closely but this is the first I've heard anyone make the claim.

                                                                    1. re: carswell

                                                                      I don`t know what article you are refering to. I got my information at the counter from one of the Smoked Meat Cutters. He said that some Sri Lankans had `taken over`the business. What can I say?

                                                                        1. re: carswell

                                                                          Maybe he was just "pulling my chain". Who knows? Stranger things have happened in the biz.

                                                                          Thank you for the article link.

                                                                          1. re: bigfellow

                                                                            I think he was pulling your chain. Schwartz's has refused big-dollar offers to franchise or expand over the years (as Dunn's did in Ottawa, and I think Toronto), and looking at the lineups, I doubt they need any help to open next door. (Brownstein claims in his book they make $12-15 mil per annum in sales.)

                                                                            That was the location of Mondo Fritz, and since no-one else was moving in, Schwartz's must've figured it would be worth it so the locals getting take-out can avoid the crunch at the main door. It appears to be open only on wkends so far, but I'm sure it'll be open 7 days come summer. Looks like they could easily make some counter space along the walls and throw a few tables in the back, to eat-in.

                                                                2. re: maj54us

                                                                  Fortunately "Israeli" food has been able to draw upon the food of many cultures. It's food that's been influenced by its indiginous Arabic population as well as by the arrival of the 1st waves of 19th century Eastern European Jews, followed by post WWII European refugees as well as the food that came with the Jewish refugees from Arabic countries post 1948. For example, the Israeli fallafel that I sampled in many a fallafel budke (hut/shack/hole in the wall) all over Israel & the West Bank were small little deep fried balls of yumminess & they stuffed your pita (the ones with a pronounced pocket) with a multitude of veggies (& that includes french fries). Chez Benny is the best example I can find in Montreal. The fallafel that you see at Boustan, Amir or other middle-eastern restos are large & ovaline shaped rolled up in a flat pita. Is there anything that is truly unique to Israel? I would guess no ... but I believe that there is an Israeli take on the food that would make it "Israeli food".

                                                                3. re: Shattered

                                                                  I'm not a fan of the Main unless it's after the bar. They deep fry their verenekas (perogies) and their chicken soup is made from powder. It's NOTHING like bubby used to make.

                                                              3. I was at Snowdon not too long ago. Above average, definitely, but something like $2.75 for a can of Coke ...

                                                                I like The Main because the price is right and the service is excellent. Being greeted like a human being and even chatting a bit with the staff goes a long way in my books. I find the sandwiches are often better than Schwartz's too. The meat is, perhaps, prepared according to a less arcane and storied formula, but it is always cut well and served with less contempt for the customer ...

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Delmare

                                                                  I have to ask...
                                                                  We went looking for slightly cheaper fare at the Main years ago (like 20 years ago). Tried the rib steak, but wasn't impressed.
                                                                  Off putting was an odor somewhat similar to kitty litter box. I don't have cats, nor litter boxes, but thats the best description I can come up with.
                                                                  We haven't been back so I don't know what the restaurant is like nowadays...although it has survived all these years, so something must be working.
                                                                  I've also seen it mentioned a few other places.
                                                                  Any comments?

                                                                  1. re: Delmare

                                                                    I really don't agree on service is excellent ! It is much better than schwartz (who is worst than schwartz's servers arrogance) but that's not their forte. It's okay but never saw human tenderness there (hahaha). Maybe after you experience schwartz servers anything is better?

                                                                    I love their liver steak on charcoal and their medium smoke meat sandwich. I like it better than schwartz because it is less salty to my taste. My wife like schwartz better. They are both good sandwiches prepared the way it should be in a steamer. Definitely not the commercial style smoked meat that we see in most restaurant that call themselves deli.

                                                                    1. re: maj54us

                                                                      "never saw human tenderness there "
                                                                      yeah, but the real question is: did you experience meat tenderness? :D

                                                                      1. re: hungryann

                                                                        now now this a food forum. please show some respect! mouhahaha!

                                                                        I like main's liver steak better than schwartz.. Main adds garlic and spices. My experience at schwartz was rubbery.

                                                                        Had their steak on charcoal. Very good, off course we're not talking Moshes or any steak house. More in the range of a home grill bbq. The plus is that it's on real charcoal.

                                                                  2. I just wanted to point out that I spotted Baldwin Street Kosher Hot Dogs at the PA on avenue du Parc - they are in the counter with the organic meats and artisanal sausages, just in front of where the butchers work. They have both all beef and all chicken, and the franks seem to have no fillers, and contain no msg. I didn't buy any because I have some other chicken knackwurst in the fridge, but will.

                                                                    If any chowhounds or moderators can think of a better thread for this sighting, I'd be pleased to move this notice there.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                      Baldwin St products do not taste good. End!

                                                                    2. I have seen no mention of Dunn's, a place I remember as having the best strawberry cheesecake in the universe.....I would sometimes have it for breakfast if I was on a trip to Montreal,,,,,,

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: LombardLee

                                                                        The problem with Dunn's is that compared to the other places in Montreal, which have been amply discussed in this thread, it isn't as good and it doesn't have the feel or character of these other delis. To visitor in the downtown area, Dunn's is convenient, and compared to anything else they've likely experienced, quite good.

                                                                        Many purist like to see these places stick with their original single location, which is understandable, since it is difficult to maintain the same standards in multiple locations. The other delis discussed this thread have stuck with their single location. (Some would say that the spawning of the Centre Street Deli, in suburban Toronto, from the Snowden is an exception, but it works because the Toronto owners are both related to the owners of the original location and therefore have the passion for the business.) Dunn's has expanded. I've tried the Dunn's in Toronto and it was terrible disappointing. While I haven't tried the Ottawa location, my friends that have say that compared to what else is available in Ottawa, it is good, but it pales in comparison to Dunn's in Montreal. Dunn's has also put their smoked meat into stores, which I have not tried, to mixed reviews.

                                                                        So the deli-lover sees Dunn's as a second rate place in Montreal and their opinion is lowered further by there expansion record.

                                                                        Having said that, when I am in Montreal, in the downtown area, without a lot of spare time, I enjoy Dunn's. One of my favorite unhealthy lunches is their smoked meat sandwich with one of their poutines.

                                                                        (And, yes, I know that people are likely to jump on this to list the dozens of places where better or more authentic poutine can be found. The same reasoning holds: It is convenient - within a 5-10 minute walking distance of where I would be - quite good to the non-Montrealer palate, and is available with a decent, but not great, smoked meat sandwich.)

                                                                        1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                          Dunn's Famous here isn't affiliated with Dunn's in Ottawa or Toronto.

                                                                          All the Montreal franchises are affliliated with the original on Metcalfe, however.


                                                                          1. re: C70

                                                                            Interesting. The waiter who served me last time I was in Montreal said otherwise. The Toronto restaurant using the name is doing a serious disservice to Dunn's Famous. I'm surprised that nothing can be done about this. (Or should I have made the obvious comment, "I'm surprised that nothing can be Dunn about this.")

                                                                            1. re: C70

                                                                              Dunn's first Restaurant was on St. Cathrine Street. When the owner died, it died too. That is until the Brothers decided to get it going again. They have since opened a Restaurant here in Vancouver and I can say that it is the same Smoke Meat as they have in Montreal, the only difference is in the water quality. What I don't like are the ones who advertise "Montreal Smoke Meat". When ever I see this, I ask them if the meat comes from Montreal and many say "no", it's made local. I told one of them I saw once at BC PLACE that he should consider putting the words STYLE in his ad, cause that's what your selling "Montreal Style Smoke Meat", not Montreal Smoke Meat. He asked if I wanted a sandwich, I said no, I can walk over to Dunn's and get the real thing.

                                                                        2. The known world of genuine deli began in the early 50's and was dominated by Bens, Schwartz, Chenoy's, Dunns, and Snowdon deli. (Brown Derby came in a few years later with the development of the Van Horne/ Victoria community). The only Montreal deli worthy of any mention lasting today is Schwartz. Hands down, no contest, without doubt the smoked meat stands above any others in existence today. Its taste is to die for, and you will from clogged arteries, but its quality has declined. (Drier meat, under trimmed). All others generally purchased sm meat from Coorsh and were similar. Brown Derby was the first to (copy) introduce "old fashioned" but it still evolved into an over-pumped, over spiced copy of Schwartzs. Dunns is today a poor copy of the original store; Bens no longer exists, Snowdon's nostalgic reputation plods along as todays client knows no better, Chenoys is a far cry from the "Famous Chenoy Boys" of the 60's (Dave, Sam, Joe, and Morty), but pretends its past reputation is a falsely inherited legacy of the original. It's not, but now heavily panned in reviews as a greasy dump with poor service, stale food and lousy sm. meat. Owned by Greeks who purchased the restaurant more than 20 years ago from the late Mort Chenoy, they have unsuccessfully tried to franchise the name but failed miserably. The real Chenoy name lived on as a famous commercial product producing pickled products until merged with Coorsh in early 1978. In the USA it appears the Deli of the past is becoming a dinosaur headed for extinction.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: syben

                                                                            Just curious, whats your take on Abie's?

                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                              there still is the Snowdon Deli on Decarie...the others I agree with u