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new deli at College & Clinton

Anyone catch this article in the Globe today?

It seems real smoked meat may be a reality here in downtown toronto! Caplansky's is opening this week in the Monarch tavern.

You can read more and see menu at the author's blog, savethedeli.com.

Can't wait to check this place out.

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  1. I know the owner of the bar, so I'm going to get the lowdown on the what, the how and the when from him. The G&M article didn't really give an idea of menu or pricing. I'll post the info when I get it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: escoffier

      The author's blog I also linked to has the menu with prices. Very reasonable. Let's hope it tastes good.

      1. re: num nums

        So many posts on this board about the dearth of good Jewish deli in TO and its complete absence downtown. Now, a G&M article on a new Jewish deli at College and Clinton claiming homemade, hand cut smoked meat, and only two small posts on C'Hound. Bizarre.

        1. re: acd123

          Not really. The place hasn't opened yet. I believe it's tomorrow.

          1. re: embee

            And just in time for Euro Cup. It'll be a nice change from the veal, the pizza and the panzo's from the hood. It's a really great spot to watch games, good sight lines, decent draught and bottled beer selection and some real characters at the bar.

    2. It's in an area I'd probably never visit, thats why I'm not really enthusiastic about it.

      Maybe I'll drive way out of my way to try it one day, but I can't imagine being a regular customer due to its location

      1. After giving this more thought, you know what WOULD make me want to drive out of my way to go there would be some authentic Montreal poutine

        After being tremendously unsuccessful finding any good poutine in Toronto (the blue truck at city hall is shredded cheese) I would definitely go if they sold it

        1 Reply
        1. re: duckdown

          Yeah, I love good Mtl poutine too, but I think this place should focus on the smoked meat.

        2. I moved to TO in the early 80's and have fond memories of eating great Jewish food on Spadina. Can't wait for this place to open and I plan to be a regular! What's not to love, good food, cold beer, the game on tv! Let's all support this guy and go spend our money at his place.

          8 Replies
          1. re: stapler

            How can you plan to be a regular if you haven't tried the food yet?

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Yup, if the smoked meat sucks, it will be disappointing but par for the course. I will continue to make the trek to the nether regions of the GTA for Centre St. Deli, or if I want really good stuff, wait for my once-a-year weekend in Montreal for Schwartz's.

            2. re: stapler

              I hope, touch wood, that I'll want to be a regular. But first I've got to taste it! There's no guarantee that it will taste good.

              He may have done a few things right. By leasing (I'm assuming) a kitchen at a bar, he doesn't need to pay off the huge upfront cost of opening a resto. That could be a reasonable cushion. His menu is so small that there's no excuse for him to not do it all well. He's not trying to offer "something for everyone", like the once decent Pickle Barrel.

              OTOH, the location is, itself, problematic. I haven't been to the Monarch for many years. (I used to grab a San Francesco sandwich and eat it at the Monarch about 35 years ago.) It may have changed, but plenty of deli mavens wouldn't go there on a bet.

              Parking, or even stopping, in that neighbourhood is horrific and, at times, impossible. The Brown Derby, one of the best Montreal delis at the time, opened at Yonge and St Clair almost thirty years ago. Unfortunately, parking was impossible. Once the Montreal expats had paid their respects, business beyond office lunch hour dropped to nothing (the place was great) and they failed quickly.

              It's also not clear whether he'll be selling meat by the pound. Assuming it's good, that's how I'll get my supply. But, at that location, there's little chance of it becoming a go-to place except to satisfy a daytime craving.

              I wish him great success. I'll find out for myself in about an hour.

              1. re: embee

                Very very curious to hear your review of the smoked meat - been waiting for you to chime in. If it's half as good as Schwartz's I'll be heading there tomorrow.

                1. re: childofthestorm

                  Just got back from my meal at Caplansky's and had a good chat with Zane, who's a wonderful guy. He sold out all his smoked meat before 8 pm on this, the opening day. He's buying his brisket at the legendary Grace Meat Market, curing it with his own spice recipe and smoking it on-site in his wood smoker.

                  The sandwich was wonderful, in a rustic/classic way. The hand-cut meat was actually streaked because of the very basic, hand-made methods: part red and part brown. Some may quibble that they'd want a more consistent cure and maybe with time it will evolve, but I love it as served. The main taste note is smoke, followed by the spices, rather than salt. Very tender and fragrant meat. I asked for medium fat and got slices that included a flavourful burst of spice-studded fat.

                  It's not quite Schwartz's but it's in the spirit of Schwartz's.... a very long way from the processed, salt-and-nitrate pink blah that passes for smoked meat in most Toronto places. I would rank it above Centre St and Katz's, etc. (others may disagree).

                  The sandwiches aren't huge but they're definitely filling. The sandwich, fries and the included pickle was $11.60. (Decent enough fries, again not quite Schwartz's). The pickle had the hoped-for authentic flavour, but was on the small side. I hope Zane branches into those wonderful, chubby, sour monsters that Montreal loves, and charges a few bucks for them as a side!

                  This is a very chow-ish place, I hope people will give it a try. It made the old Monarch an ever nicer, authentic kind of joint. (The draft Steam Whistle I had went down great with the sandwich).

                2. re: embee

                  Blech, so parking around there is a nightmare? Thats what I feared.

                  If parking isn't an easy thing to do around there then I'll never be visiting there at all. I drive out of my way for "chow worthy" eats all the time, and I certainly live nowhere near this place....so unless theres some kind of half-decent parking accomodations I'll have to pass

                  Thanks for the info though

                  1. re: duckdown

                    Parking is not that hard at all around there, typically the side streets you need a residential permit to park there between midnight to 7 am, otherwise it's all fair game. You will for sure find parking on Clinton, Grace, or Manning, never mind paid parking on Bloor.

                    Come on people, us downtown types will drive out to Markham for Chinese or Brampton for Indian - the least you can do is circle to the block a few times for a good smoked meat sandwich (which I sincerely hope it is).

                    1. re: childofthestorm

                      There's a green P garage and lot on Clinton just north of College if you don't mind paying.

              2. Although I seldom try a restaurant on opening day, this one I couldn't miss. If you know me, or follow my Chowhound posts, you know I'm a fanatic - perhaps a nutbar - about Jewish deli. I've got to think this one through before posting a full review, since I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea.

                In short, Zane is trying something really great, and I recommend strongly that you go. My sandwich was delicious. But expectations are important, and I don't see comparisons with Schwartz, or Centre St, as appropriate. This is NOT Montreal smoked meat, whether in the Schwartz style or that of Lester's, and it isn't pastrami either. And Caplansky's isn't any kind of typical Jewish deli. (I'll have more to say about that later).

                Zane has created something of his very own. It's definitely worth your attention and he deserves mightily to succeed and prosper. But if you, too, are a deli maven, you may be disappointed. So go to Caplansky's for something unique in Toronto and very Chowish, but leave your expectations at home.

                Much more to come later.
                There's been another thread started at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/527708

                3 Replies
                1. re: embee

                  Where does Caplansky get his bread from? Embee, if you are at all serious in your dedication, you first must go to Haymishe Bakery on Bathurst and Lawrence and get a rye bread (with or without caraway, or better yet, one of each so that you can taste all that the world has to offer). Leave the bread that you are given with your sandwich and use what you brought.

                  I would understand if the trip to the Monarch were aborted because one filled up on the Haymishe rye, particularly if one has a good apple to go with the bread.

                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                    According to the Globe article linked in the first post, he's using Silverstein's bread.

                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                      If you are going to Haymishe Bakery don't forget to stock up on bagels.

                  2. Went for a sandwich, fries and slaw today at lunchtime. Ordered it medium. It was deliciously smoked, lightly seasoned, medium fat, and juicy. I think that the cost was about $11.00 for the combo. I ate at the bar and ordered a beer--a nice cold Steamwhistle on tap. The Portugal/Czech soccer match was on at the time, so lots of entertainment from the Portuguese fans in the Monarch.

                    I detected from the bar owner that many of the customers aren't buying drinks (beer) from him, so I'm sure that he was hoping to share in the business that way. I suggest buying a half-pint ($3.25), if you don't want to drink a lot.

                    Parking is much the same as for many downtown spots--it may take a little patience, a couple of turns around the block before you score a parking spot.

                    All in all, a great chow-find. Highly recommended

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Yongeman

                      This is great news...I'm almost tempted to cancel my anniversary dinner at Scaramouche tonight for a nice smoked meat. Wonder if the wifey will be on board with that decision...

                      1. re: grandgourmand

                        lol... The Monarch isn't exactly an 'atmosphere' destination. But it is a pretty neat spot where you're actually encouraged to bring in your food from the surrounding Italian sandwich/pizza places, and now Caplansky's too. Maybe you could get take-out from Scaramouche for your wife, gg, and you could have a sandwich???

                        1. re: grandgourmand

                          He ran out of meat this afternoon. Call before you go.

                          1. re: embee

                            My bet is that he'll iron out the bugs within a week or two. He seems like a competent guy.

                            I'm going again on Friday to try it again. I want to make sure that my experience yesterday wasn't a fluke.

                      2. Someone on another forum said the guy ran out of meat sometime this afternoon and he's closing until NEXT Thursday!

                        And another guy under him said that he got the one of the last sandwiches and it was dry and chewy :(

                        I was planning on going this weekend but I guess so much for that if he's closing for over a week :(

                        Talk about poorly prepared if this is true

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: duckdown

                          I take this as a good sign: Jewish/East European pessimism at its best. Business exceeded all expectations during opening week. A good thing. Now he has reason to manufacture more product. It's all good. Don't worry, be happy.

                          I hope he soon reaches the point where he has sufficient product available to sell it by the pound or brisket.

                          1. re: duckdown

                            It's too bad he'll be missing the traffic from Taste of Little Italy.

                            1. re: duckdown

                              It's a start up operation, and the meat cure can't be rushed. With all this frenzied publicity, it may take a few weeks to get production sorted out.
                              The Monarch is an out of the way neighborhood place. I doubt if they ever have line ups, but this is a difficult week, and Zane seems to be avoiding short cuts. Many establishments would give in to the pressure, and get some commercially prepared brisket.

                              1. re: duckdown

                                Crap! That figures as I was planning on going this evening since I was going up to Canada Computers. Oh well, better to find out now than tonight after walking over there.

                              2. I was so looking forward to checking it out this evening, but alas, business was better than expected and Zane is indeed sold out. We were told to come back next Thursday - hopefully he won't sell out at lunchtime!

                                1. I keep getting messages asking me to review Caplansky’s. I’ve been reflecting on it for almost a week. Friends have nagged me for years to open a deli. I consider it seriously from time to time. Knowing that my wife (who once owned a very large restaurant) would have me tarred and feathered has always been something of a damper, though, so I’m thrilled that Zane has done the deed.

                                  Caplansky’s is definitely worth your attention, and deserves very much to succeed. I recommend strongly that you go. It is unique in Toronto, and a great addition to the casual dining scene. But don’t go looking for Schwartz’s, Pancer’s, Centre St, Katz’s, or any other deli. You may be disappointed if you do, so best you shouldn’t compare and you shouldn’t expect.

                                  I’ve now tried Caplansky’s twice. We MUST help this guy do well. But please understand that you will be supporting a work in progress. Some things definitely need to be fixed.

                                  The menu is tiny. It's smoked meat sandwiches, fries, cole slaw, and soup. Everything is made in house. You can drink Cott’s "cherry coke" or Vernor's diet ginger ale. The bread is unseeded Silverstein's rye (pre-sliced from a package rather than sliced to order from a crisp crusted naked loaf). There are Strub's dills, pickled peppers, and yellow mustard. That's all. There’s no takeout and no catering, and they aren’t open every day.

                                  First and foremost, Caplansky’s is NOT a Jewish deli. Zane is making deli food, and his food has the POTENTIAL to become the best deli food in town. But this is the Monarch tavern. It doesn’t look right, or smell right, or feel right. Zane can’t help that. It just is.

                                  The Monarch is an uncomfortable second floor dive, though it is perfectly okay for a woman on her own. Zane has taken over the kitchen concession. That’s a good move – there’s no big startup debt and the monthly rent won’t kill him. His apt comparison is to a hidden secret place for the knowing. However, Forest Hill, Bathurst Manor, York Mills, Bayview Village, and Thornhill will not be beating a path to the Monarch’s door (the best route to which is up the outside fire escape stairs). That’s just a Toronto reality.

                                  The Monarch has been here forever. Unlike most similar places, they have always welcomed outside food. People have come here with their San Francesco sandwiches and Bitondo’s pizza for decades, to eat them with the Monarch’s beer. Which brings me to a second significant point: Zane’s lovely server won’t ask you to buy the Monarch’s beer. But if Caplansky’s customers don’t buy beer, the Monarch won’t need Caplansky’s.

                                  A few of you have posted things like “better than Schwartz”. Please don’t say that, because it isn’t true. But Schwartz has had over eighty years to perfect their process. They have survived multiple owners, closures, a fire, and the gentrification of their neighbourhood, and they are still going strong. Caplansky’s isn’t trying to be Schwartz, and that’s probably a good thing.

                                  There are two main genres of Montreal smoked meat. One version is artisanal, dry cured and smoked the old fashioned way. That’s what’s served at Schwartz and by a few Montreal competitors.

                                  The second version is industrial, injected with curing agents and flavourings at a processing plant. There are many brands, the best known, and probably best tasting, is the “old fashioned” style sold by Lester’s. People generally like the style they grew up with. I like the version served at Schwartz, though the Lester’s meat served at Snowdon in Montreal and Centre St in Thornhill doesn’t taste bad. This style is almost always juicy and tender and always tastes the same.

                                  The “Reuben S” delis a few years back had the Schwartz recipe almost nailed. On their best days, it tasted just like the “real thing”. Reuben S had some real meat curing passion, but was not a pleasing place at which to eat. Bad smoked meat wasn’t their problem, but our newspaper critics (most of them Jewish) all panned it. When they were served real Montreal smoked meat, they didn’t understand what they were getting. One critic even recommended the execrable Mel’s as having the best Montreal smoked meat in Town.

                                  Caplansky’s smoked meat is made similarly to the Schwartz product. It’s dry cured for ten days and smoked over real wood. But there is no similarity in the mouth. This is NOT Montreal smoked meat, whether in the Schwartz style or that of Lester's, and it isn't typical pastrami either. Zane’s smoked meat is his own thing, and it’s good. But the curing formula needs some tweaking and the curing methods need much more practice. Zane seems up to the task, but he’s not there yet.

                                  The briskets come from a great source (Grace Meats). However, they are not butchered appropriately for smoked meat. They are “singles” (aka “flats”), which means they don’t contain enough fat. You need the fat of a “packer” (whole) brisket, or at least a “double”, for the best juiciness and taste, even if you intend to eat just the lean. The succulent deckle (upper) section is missing, and you get mostly lean meat even when you order medium.

                                  The next issue I feel needs addressing is the spicing. Simply stated, this smoked meat needs more. If you look at the beautiful picture on savethedeli.com, you’ll see what I mean. The spice mixture is a minor element in this recipe. The exemplars (Schwartz Montreal smoked meat; Katz’s New York pastrami) are completely coated with spices and are almost black. Their flavours last for hours. Caplansky’s smoked meat is too mild.

                                  Another critical element is the cure. Zane is curing for ten days, which is fairly common. For whatever reason, this isn’t enough. My personal pastrami recipe cures for twenty one days. This is too long for a restaurant with very limited space and produces an extremely intense flavour. Perhaps 14 days is worth trying.

                                  The smoked meat is artisanal and natural. That’s good, but consistent artisanal deli takes practice and that practice will need some time. Unlike an industrial product, such as Lester’s, all Schwartz briskets do not cut, or chew, or taste the same. However, the extreme differences from one Caplansky’s brisket to another need to be leveled out.

                                  On my first visit, the server sat down next to me and looked me in the eye. Big problem. As of 3:00, they had sold ALL of the day’s meat. Zane was cooking more, but it wasn't ready. She figured half an hour. I didn't have it. She said he'd try to make me an edible sandwich. It was, but only just. It was delicious, but on the edge of being too tough to chew. They comped it (I didn't ask them to) and started turning people away. I'd say it needed another hour, or perhaps a bit more.

                                  While this meat was delicious, it was…strange. There was a small whiff of pepper. It looked like mildly peppered corned beef. It tasted like...barbecue. There was a beautiful top note of hickory smoke. Caplansky's was selling Toronto's best southern barbecue brisket, though it was cooked like Jewish deli meat, and it had the appearance of a deli cure. Three hours later, my mouth was still filled with big, bold flavours. It was wonderful. But it wasn’t Jewish deli – not even close.

                                  After obsessing for a while, I returned for lunch the next day. I figured 2:00 was safe. I was wrong.

                                  The meat was completely different. It was tender and well cooked and, for a single brisket, it was juicy. While the first sandwich had tasted like barbecue, this one was definitely deli. Again it was delicious. But this time the flavours (like a slightly spiced and lightly smoked corned beef) exited my mouth shortly after eating.

                                  I got to try the fries, which I thought were great. But you’d better say something when you order if you don’t like your fries dark and crisp.

                                  I didn’t get to try the cole slaw, which was already sold out. But the makings for the next batch were sitting in the kitchen. No shortcuts here – there was a bowl of whole veggies awaiting shredding.

                                  Then came the really bad news. There was only one brisket left and Caplansky’s would need to close, probably for a week. It wasn’t even 3:00 on day two, and Caplansky’s was out of meat. That last brisket, which I didn’t taste, appeared to be only partially cured. Frankly, it looked kind of sad. I’m glad it wasn’t in my sandwich.

                                  While I missed out on the cole slaw, I got to sample the matzo ball soup. The chicken broth was beautiful – better than at ANY established Toronto deli. I thought I tasted some msg, but Zane insisted there was none. I’d like to see some schmaltz floating on top and, possibly, a bit of dill. But I’m pushing it. This was a great chicken broth. The matzo ball, from Zane’s first ever batch, wasn’t bad, but it needed salt and I like mine fluffier. (Full disclosure: I use tiny amounts of msg in my soup and my own matzo balls aren’t the best in town.)

                                  So what to make of all this? Zane calls it a labour of love, and I’m taking him seriously. He could have ordered some briskets from Chicago 58 to deal with his good fortune, These briskets, with some added extra spice, are the pastramis they sell at Pancer’s. He chose, instead, to close and cure more meat. If you wander down there before he reopens, he promises a coupon for a free sandwich.

                                  Zane’s heart is in the right place. I hope that, a year from now, Caplansky’s has become a real deli with a bigger (but still controllable and still house made) menu, the right smells, a more accessible location, and takeout/catering capability. I hope Zane makes lots of money. I hope that he doesn’t decide to become an “always something for everyone” eatery and that he doesn’t get lured into franchising. But what about Caplansky’s Pit Barbecue and Pastrami Parlour? I doubt that any single place in Canada does both. That’s probably too scattered to work well in the real world, but it sure would taste good.

                                  Most of all, I hope Zane doesn’t become exhausted or bored. Check it out, but give him some breathing space and don’t all go on the 19th. Note that evening parking is probably hopeless.

                                  26 Replies
                                  1. re: embee

                                    Great review.

                                    You should invite us all over to try your homemade pastrami some time.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      What a fantastic read, embee. I'm by no means a deli maven but I do love to support people and places like this - I think I'll give him a few weeks to settle in and will then look forward to checking it out.

                                      1. re: embee

                                        Great post, embee, and spot on. I was fortunate enough to have a sandwich (with fries and cole slaw) last week. As I posted, it was excellent. Every new restauranteur would be fortunate to have you on their side, but, of course most of them aren't as sincere and interested in putting out the best product, as Mr. Caplansky so obviously is. I wish him well too--can't wait to have another great sandwich.

                                        1. re: embee

                                          Thank you very much for your post-- it was like a little lesson in deli that has really sparked my interest, and I'm definitely going to stop by Caplansky's for a sandwich to do the "practical" work :-)

                                          1. re: embee

                                            Thanks embee for an informative and enjoyable read.

                                            1. re: embee

                                              Theres no take-out?

                                              What in sweet heaven is the logic behind that?

                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                CapIansky's is a concession in a not very busy tavern, and the owners want to sell beverages. I'm sure they see smoked meat, pickles, and fries as an inducement to sell more beer, and an enhancement in a place where many patrons bring there own food.
                                                You really have to experience the Monarch for what it is, an old style beverage room. Embee is right in saying we have to support Caplansky's and the tavern, or else it will revert back to what it was.

                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                  Hey, I would love to support it -- but for take-out.

                                                  I live nowhere near here and would need to drive to get to this place.. Sounds like an invitation to drink and drive.. I won't be going there if this is the case

                                                    1. re: acd123

                                                      Would the Monarch be cool with a coke purchase, and not a beer purchase?

                                                      1. re: magic

                                                        Sure, not everyone drinks alcohol--although, I'm sure he'd rather sell the more expensive drinks.

                                                    2. re: duckdown

                                                      You don't need to buy beer and they won't pressure you to do so. Indeed, I wasn't even asked whether I wanted one.

                                                      I thought it appropriate to explain how I perceive the arrangement. There's no reason for them to support Zane if his being at the Monarch doesn't help their business.

                                                      Caplansky's sells "cherry coke" and Vernor's, and I assume the Monarch sells other soft drinks.

                                                      1. re: embee

                                                        So could I buy a cherry coke from Caplansky's and have that be that?

                                                        1. re: magic

                                                          Sure. Or have a free glass of Lake Ontario's finest.

                                                  1. re: duckdown

                                                    No take-out yet. And there won't be unless Caplansky can do enough business to quit the Monarch and establish himself at an independent location. Support him and you could well be supporting that elusive Toronto signature dish..

                                                  2. re: embee

                                                    Zane told me on his opening day that he **IS** doing take-out.

                                                    That was just before he ran out of brisket, and it was also before the following days when he sold out of his entire cured supply.

                                                    I suspect that his policies are evolving during the crazy first days of his business, and maybe the Monarch guy put the heat on to confine it to dine-in in order to sell beer.

                                                    But I would stay tuned as the start-up kinks get worked out.

                                                    1. re: Brennius

                                                      I think you're right. There's no takeout because there isn't any food available to take out :-)

                                                      He'll certainly be selling sandwiches to go. However, he really won't be in a position to sell meat by the pound, which is how I would prefer to buy it.

                                                      1. re: embee

                                                        yes, we do take-out. happily :}

                                                        1. re: Caplansky

                                                          Excellent! Are hours still noonish to 9PM? And is that 7 days a week?

                                                          1. re: Caplansky

                                                            Hey Zane, get back to work! You don't have time to hang out here--more briskets!!! Just kidding. Keep up the great work, and it's an pleasure to have your input here on Chowhound.

                                                      2. re: embee

                                                        My 2 cents.
                                                        Finally made it to the deli.
                                                        Parking impossible.
                                                        I agree with everything embee stated above.
                                                        Zane is a really nice guy, and wants to please.
                                                        We ordered our sandwiches fat, and they were melt in the mouth, which for most is a good thing.
                                                        Toronto meat hand cut always had a "pull".
                                                        It is definitely not Toronto deli, possibly Montreal style?.
                                                        It is very good.
                                                        It does not need more spice,...it needs lots more spice.
                                                        Far too bland.
                                                        I mentioned this to Zane, and suggested that possibly until he gets this part down pat, he serve spice on the side if requested as Katz does.
                                                        I didn't mind the yellow mustard, as this is how it has been served traditionally in T.O.
                                                        The vernors was ice cold, as it should be.
                                                        My husband ordered a draft to keep the Monarch happy.
                                                        I wish Zane the best of luck, and if someone here reports that he has spiced up the meat, we will return, otherwise the parking isn't worth the hassle.

                                                        1. re: erly

                                                          Damn, so parking is that bad eh? :(

                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                            Parking in that part of town is a challenge to be taken up eagerly. There is always a spot, if you find it without losing your cool. Most of the cars near SanFrancesco are very temporary; they are getting a sandwich on the run. Besides, $30 parking tickets are no longer prosecuted by the city, as it takes up too much court time.
                                                            But if this is too intimidating, there is always the suburbs, and parking lot mayhem!

                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                              Parking in that area is easy!!! I can't fathom why people would think it's difficult. I always park on any one of the dozens of sidestreets that run north off of College in that area. And it’s free!!! Park there and it's maybe a 5 minute walk to Caplansky's. Good lord, all this fuss over nothing.

                                                              1. re: magic

                                                                Well keep in mind, people coming from the burbs aren't used to working for their parking (big box lots). Hey I live in the burbs and I know that mindset well. Plus parallel parking is not their strongest suit.

                                                                Parking is easy in that area during the day, assuming you have the patience to scan through a few side streets. It only turns into a problem past 11pm on Fridays & Saturdays when the posh folks are out to party.

                                                      3. Question, was wondering if this place is appropriate for 12-13 year old child, or if even a 12-13 year old is allowed? Is this the type of tavern that has separate room and entrance for men and woman? My wife’s nieces are here from NYC and would love to try some smoked meat.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Pastryrocks

                                                          I was there for lunch on Friday with a friend and her two wee'uns and it was not a problem at all. No separate entrances or what have you. Ladies are allowed in unescorted...it is appropriate during the day I would say, perhaps not at night or during a game but otherwise, enjoy...

                                                            1. re: Pastryrocks

                                                              it depends on your tolerance for cursing, sometimes the locals are drinking and arguing passionately about something sports related. F-bombs are quite plentiful.

                                                              The place is kind of a dive bar though, so it adds to the charm.

                                                        2. I finally got a chance to try Caplansky's out myself. I love how acd123 was wondering why no one was interested when this thread first started. Well, it's been fun following this thread (esp. embee's posts) and the travails of the obviously very dedicated owner, Zane.

                                                          I went on Saturday for lunch, and like the rest of downtown, it was very quiet due to the long weekend. There were only about four other tables of people seated. I was seated and served by Zane himself. I ordered the combo, with the sandwich fatty. Right after taking my first bite, Zane came up and eagerly wanted to know what I thought. I said it was beautifully juicy and tasty, and that pretty much sums it up for me. As people have mentioned, the smokiness really comes through. It is light on the spices, but I was able to enjoy the taste of the meat itself. Ignoring for a moment the tremendous legacy of deli traditions, Caplansky's product seems to be literally what a "smoked meat sandwich" should be.

                                                          I'll definitely be back for more. Next time I'd like to try a sandwich with a soup and a knish.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: num nums

                                                            He has knishes? If so, what else as sides?

                                                            1. re: num nums

                                                              I'll be honest. I didn't think anything of it until I heard Zane ran out of food immediately... The waitress told me that's happened twice - which, given that it's only been around for less than a month and it takes over 7 days to fully prepare the meat (her words - I don't know curing well enough), that's got to mean something.

                                                              The menu's limited to Blintzes and stuff from the combo but it's pretty good. From other people's suggestions, I got Fatty which is very melt-in-your-mouth. Cott's is always a good complement, just like at Schwartz's - though as stated, it cannot be compared as they're just too different.

                                                              From what the waitress told us, the place is crazy during lunch but it's not too busy for dinner, as there were only a couple other tables enjoying the meat.

                                                              One last thing. Someone posted that it's at 12 Clinton Place and I mistakenly google mapped it to find that it was near Christie Station (on Bloor). THIS IS WRONG. Keep in mind that it's a short walk south of College on Clinton. If you're TTCing it, streetcar it from Queen's Park - don't hoof it from Christie. My friend was pretty upset at me about that.

                                                              1. re: Paradocs

                                                                I skimmed through this thread, and the other one http://www.chowhound.com/topics/527708 and did not find any reference to Clinton Place. Most hounds referred to the Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton Street, and it has been there since mid 20th century.

                                                                1. re: Paradocs

                                                                  Went in yesterday at around 4ish, it was just my friend and I there, aside from Monarch's regular lushes. I haven't felt that level of satisfaction since my last CHOMP at Katz in LES.

                                                                  Talked with Zane for a while, he said the idea came to him in September at first as an attempt to satisfy his craving for Schwartz. Spurred on by a friend's failure to deliver a sammich on his return from Montreal as he had been promised. He didn't plan on turning it into an enterprise until he came across the Monarch's empty kitchen.

                                                                  I found the Silverstein rye to be a little too soft to support the full weight of the meat, perhaps this was just a one off. Overall, the spicing is on the mellow side, the smoke is up there, the meat has great mouthfeel. I ordered fatty btw.

                                                                  The slaw had a hit of raw onion that was a tad too sharp for me, overall a very simple but effective slaw. Fries are splendid, I especially enjoyed the plentiful flakes of kosher salt coating them. It's nice to see someone unafraid of really seasoning their fries.

                                                                  The blintzes are on the menu but as of yet unavailable. He is still trying to pefect the recipe. TIme is lacking as demand has caused him to increase production of the smoked meat, leaving him little time to tinker w/ the blintzes.

                                                                  He is registered here so I'm sure he can add more, I don't want to give away his life history now. Needless to say, I'll be back, often!

                                                                  1. re: aser

                                                                    Hey, we're not lushes, we just like beer. And smoked meat. And putting the two together in a delicious equation that results in happiness and satisfaction.

                                                                    I brought a bunch of people from my office to the Monarch yesterday at lunch, everyone ordered one of Zane's sandwiches, some with fries, some with soup, and here's the best indication of the food: a lot of chatter at the table between ten people, then food arrives. Dead silence ensues, punctuated with declarations of pleasure and taste.

                                                                    We're now going to be doing one of two things on a semi-weekly basis: going for a stroll at lunch, or ordering a whole mess of sandwiches and having a 'meeting'.

                                                                    Tomorrow I'm bringing my Dad to the Monarch for lunch. He's an ex-Montrealer who I think will be quite happy with his meal.

                                                                    1. re: escoffier

                                                                      $6 for a takeaway sammich is an incredible deal. Luckily it's not in my hood as it'll be bad for my health to indulge so regularly.

                                                                      Here's a pic I took of the combo...


                                                              2. As a former New Yorker raised and spoiled on Katz's hand cut pastrami (on Houston St) and the infamous "pistol" at the Carnegie, Since moving to Toronto in 2001 I have been searching to no avail for a good pastrami sandwich. Then last week, thanks to you hounds, I ate a Caplansky "fatty" and I died and went to heaven. (if you eat more than one of his "fatty's" a month you probably will die so I recommend a weekly "medium" which I had yesterday on my second visit. This is the finest cured meat I've ever tasted in New York, Montreal anywhere. Sure it's missing some spices and it's not real pastrami like in New York which has more pepper, but this is the closest to perfection I have ever tasted. It's life transforming, melt in your mouth, carnivors wet dream, and I defy any self respecting hound to badmouth this guy's beef.

                                                                I have enormous respect for this meat artisan Zane, such chutzpah, and I wish him mazel tov because we all need him to succeed for selfish reasons. Without him Toronto is without a decent smoked meat/pastrami sandwich so I'll join in howling with the rest of you hounds lets make it loud and clear, the new pastrami/smoked meat king is here in Toronto and his name is Caplansky. Long live Caplanskys !

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Yongeman

                                                                    Finally went, not much to add except that I will return again and again. Oh, and it took me 10 seconds to find parking right out front. And they have a pinball machine, so next time I'm going to eat a sandwich, play some pinball and digest, then eat another sandwich. I am not even kidding.

                                                                    1. re: childofthestorm

                                                                      Went today for lunch. Sandwich and a pint. Loved it. Will be back for sure.

                                                                      1. re: EarlyDrive

                                                                        I went for 2nd time on Friday night after a long day at work...ahhhh that hit the spot. This time I had the medium fatty cut and that was much more moist than the regular medium last time. Great fries still and punchy coleslaw but am still looking forward to a spicier cure. Will keep going to see how they progress.

                                                                        1. re: deabot

                                                                          Took my Dad to the Monarch yesterday, he's an ex-Montrealer, and after I'd told him about the outrageously good food that Zane serves, he had to try it. I'm now the number 1 son and I'm going to be seeing a lot more of the old man. He had a lean sandwich and the fries and slaw and loved every bit of it. He had some issues with the coleslaw (not cut up enough for his liking) but, if that's the only issue with the meal, I think it'll be OK. I had my combo, and once again I have found a new favourite dish. If only Zane were open today...

                                                                          He's also got servers/wait staff now who will take your order - I've met both of them and they're extremely personable, professional and passionate about the dishes they serve.

                                                                          1. re: escoffier

                                                                            Went last night, superb. Very impressed.
                                                                            Zane mentioned that he is working on a poutine.

                                                                      2. re: childofthestorm

                                                                        Wow, pinball - I was looking for something to replace my McSorley's pinball obsession since their burgers are so awful and their wings so-so.

                                                                        Will go to Caplansky tomorrow for lunch - does anyone know their official hours of operation?

                                                                        1. re: Food Tourist

                                                                          12ish noon -9. Went tonight and had the medium-third visit. It was bang on this time compared to other visits-not too stringy nor chewy and just the right amount of fat/juicyness.

                                                                  2. Support this man! Downtown has no equal. Bolder than Pancer's, on par with Schwartz's, kills Katz's. The fries were a bit salty but whatever. He's nailed the sandwich and that's what matters. Get a pint from the bar and complete the experience.

                                                                    1. Believe the hype. Went there yesterday for the combo and a cold beer.....it so hit the spot! I will definitely go there again!!!

                                                                      The sandwich, the fries where as they should be....the cole slaw still needs some work but is far from the worst I have eaten......

                                                                      Support Caplansky, support Monarch so that we do not lose this haven of meat!!!

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Curlygrrl

                                                                        I agree with most of your review, curlygrrl--I was also at Caplansky's yesterday for lunch. The whole combo was fantastic, in my opinion. That includes the coleslaw which was fresh, crispy and a great companion to the sandwich and fries. What exactly is the cole slaw missing?

                                                                        1. re: Yongeman

                                                                          Well though I tend to prefer a vinegar based slaw (to my cousin who was with me who wished it was mayo based)....my issue that it was wilted and soggy...where was the crunch???....and there was a distinct taste of onion that almost overpowered everything even the vinegar...just not balanced in flavour in my opinion....but like I said I have had way worse variations (sorry mom!!!) and if this is my only complaint it isn't much of one.....luckily I live in the neighbourhood and will be visiting Caplansky on a regular basis...!!!!!

                                                                          1. re: Yongeman

                                                                            Wow, everyone was at the Monarch for lunch yesterday! I enjoyed the mildly spiced fatty sandwich, but next time would skip the too-salty slightly soft fries and too-mild soft coleslaw. Had no problem getting free street parking right beside the tavern.

                                                                            1. re: Food Tourist

                                                                              agree though i got the medium and that was plenty fatty enough for me at the time. would definitely go back for it and its nice balance of smoke.

                                                                              the fries weren't bad but they certainly weren't spectacular by any means and the coleslaw had stewed just a bit too long. the soup seemed like a good option though i wasn't in the mood for something so steaming hot.

                                                                        2. My friend Mittz and I tried this place out yesterday. It lived up to the hype! Mr. Caplansky, you are the Wizard of Brizzkit!

                                                                          I think what I most admire about Caplansky's is the simplicity. I don't care if he ever sells anything else but that combo plate of sandwich (medium), fries and coleslaw. Doing something that good for the next 30 years until he can hand it off to someone else? That is a noble calling. And the perfect answer to "what is Toronto's signature dish?".

                                                                          The only negative? I now live in fear of him moving out of the downtown core.

                                                                          Other than the moist, smokey/salty and beautifully textured meat (like someone told a texan to make deli), the highlights of our visit were:

                                                                          Talking with the waitress about deli culture (I'm more of a BBQ guy with a low grade brisket obsession) we marveled at the depth of knowledge and passion out there. Then she said "It's great, they're coming back all the time. And they're all big guys with grey beards!" I had to laugh because she basically had just described me.

                                                                          Second highlight? Mittz, who had skipped lunch, orders a second sandwich. This despite my warnings that he'll rupture something. The Brizzkit Wizard himself came out and told us how happy he was to see that. I'd have done it myself, but like a fool I'd eaten all my fries and knew I couldn't handle it. Mittz paid for it later, walking home to Parkdale in a meat sweat haze. And he'll probably do it again.

                                                                          Next time, we'll bring a real eater, the Hungry Viking.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Pantz

                                                                            Ha! she was talking about me...grey beard.

                                                                          2. damn it

                                                                            i drove through this intersection twice tonight after visiting a friend up the road, and couldn't even see the place

                                                                            where exactly is it? and what is the best side street to find a parking spot? i'm just going to punch it into the gps next time

                                                                            i couldn't find a spot anywhere so i didnt even bother stopping, wasted like 15 minutes :(

                                                                            have i mentioned how much i HATE the location of this place :)

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: duckdown

                                                                              It's in the Monach Tavern, which is on the southwest corner of Henderson and Clinton. You have to go up a flight of stairs to the 2nd floor, where the bar is located. There's a Caplansky's sign outside near the entrance. It's also right next door to San Francesco Foods, which is a little more noticeable.

                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                Just park in the Green P on Clinton north of College. It's 200m away.

                                                                                1. re: koknia

                                                                                  Till now, Moe Pancer's and Centre Street Deli were my only two go-to delis in Toronto - both of which are good most of the time. But, after finally getting to Caplansky's yesterday, I'd have to add that little outpost as well. Tasty sandwich, good fries (unlike Pancer's and Centre Street, which are acceptably average), a cole slaw that could use more of a vinegary kick, and a respectable slice of old dill. The sandwich was especially satisfying. Prices at Caplansky's are slightly less for the combination plate ($11) than you'll find at the other two delis. The important thing is that, after many years, the city now has a decent deli south of Bloor Street. And though I won't get there all that often - I live within a short drive of Pancer's - Caplansky's is where I'll repair to when I find myself down that way at lunch. A damn good deli sandwich - though I noticed most of the others in the Monarch Tavern were scarfing down Italian sandwiches from nearby take-outs with their pitchers of beer. Good Italian sandwiches, I'm sure, but why bother when one of the tastiest deli sandwiches in the country is being served up right there in front of you?

                                                                                  1. re: juno

                                                                                    I don't think it's too hard to understand why the Monarch patrons are eating Italian sandwiches...they've done that for years--pick up food downstairs and bring it up to eat with a brew. Plus, those are excellent Italian sandwiches that they're bringing up. I sure wouldn't want to eat a smoked meat sandwich every day (but almost every day).

                                                                              2. i went today for lunch and i hate to say my experience didn't live up to the overwhelming praise calpansky's has received thus far. this is not to say that it's not a great tasting sandwich. rather, my sandwich didn't have that 'melt in your mouth' texture that i've enjoyed at schwartz or katz's (NYC). i ordered it medium and it was a little dry and noticeably tough. BUT i preferred the smokey flavour of calpansky's over the aforementioned delis. i will not dismss calpansky's in one shot and can guarantee i will return for the flavour alone. i just hope that zane proves my first experience was a one-off and i'll indeed enjoy that melt in your mouth texture others have enjoyed.

                                                                                1. Finally tried this place out yesterday afternoon

                                                                                  I got the 'medium' cut sandwich combo

                                                                                  Sandwich appeared much smaller than I'm used to, but the looks were deceiving, it filled me up at the end. Maybe a bit dry; could have used more mustard I think for sure.

                                                                                  Fries were awesome, nice and salty, and they could be perfect for a poutine

                                                                                  Pickle spear was good but not nearly enough! I wanted more pickle :P

                                                                                  Cole slaw was my major problem -- way too much of a raw onion taste and gave me heartburn within the hour :(

                                                                                  My pint of Moosehead was also flat and foamy -- but thats not his fault :)

                                                                                  Overall a great sandwich though yeah, I got lucky driving through the neighbourhood again and actually found parking right on Henderson, so that was nice..


                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: duckdown

                                                                                    It always blows my mind that in Toronto can't seem to get smoked meat or bagels right. I'm praying theat Capalnasky's lives up to the hype...I'm tired of driving to montreal for the real deal

                                                                                    1. re: Finnegan

                                                                                      If you think the smoked meat & bagels are bad, you should try looking for a poutine!

                                                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                                                        Actually montreal does a great hot dog too...spli down the centre and toasted (or get a steamie if you prefer). Does anyone know if the Montreal Pool Room is still around? Best hotdogs

                                                                                        1. re: Finnegan

                                                                                          I am absolutely going to check this place out...it sounds amazing...thanks Embee, you certainly lit a fire...

                                                                                          1. re: Finnegan

                                                                                            Oh for sure, steamies & toasties are awesome

                                                                                            Although I've only tried them at La Belle Province

                                                                                    2. +

                                                                                      356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: JamieK

                                                                                        Went to Caplansky's with my father today, as I am back in town from Montreal. I can't say that I am an expert on smoked meat, but I certainly eat it regularly enough (I live 10 minutes from Schwatz's and now 5 minutes from Caplansky's - talk about good fortune).

                                                                                        In any event, my thoughts are much the same as many other commentators. My meat, the medium, was a bit drier than I would have expected, but the smokey flavour was fantastic. I can't speak to the spicing, though I suppose in retrospect there could have been a bit more. The bread was good, the slaw a little chunky (I liked it, it was pretty vinegary), and the fries nice and crispy - you could see the kosher salt on them too. My only complaint (a minor one to be sure) was that the fries seemed a little too salty, but better this than the other way around.

                                                                                        The service was very friendly, and the sandwiches excellent as well. As for Schwartz's comparisons, they are definitely different. Schwartz's is a little fattier/moister, though I preferred the flavour of the Caplansky's meat. Not willing to make a judgment either way. The french fries, however, were definitely better than Schwartz's - though thats not why one would make a choice in the first place. In fact, having made hundreds of orders of fries at a Fish and Chips restaurant not far from Caplansky's with not very good fries, I would say these are some of the best restaurant fries I've had in a long time, even with the extra saltiness.

                                                                                        I am definitely a fan, and will certainly return.

                                                                                      2. Somebody said they started selling smoked turkey

                                                                                        I haven't tried it -- but it sounds awesome... can anyone tell me, what does the smoked turkey sandwich come with as a topping? (the smoked meat comes with mustard...but mustard and turkey sounds gross)

                                                                                        Oh, and.... Any news on the montreal poutine? :)

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: duckdown

                                                                                          We serve the turkey with honey mustard. :)
                                                                                          As for the poutine... should be available in time for hockey season. Just working on the gravy and a reliable source of cheese curds.

                                                                                          1. re: Caplansky

                                                                                            Thanks for the info :) I hope to make it by this week

                                                                                            Oh, and, have you started selling the meat for take-home yet? Like not in a sandwich (not sure if you have this kind of quantity available which is understandable... would be nice to enjoy at home though)

                                                                                        2. Just came back from my second time at Caplansky's

                                                                                          I enjoyed this time better -- and I liked it the first time

                                                                                          Cole slaw... This was my biggest complaint in my first visit (I said it was too oniony) well I am happy to say that this time there was MUCH more grated carrot in it and I guess the natural sweetness eliminated that overpowering onion taste. I ate it all this time, excellent job

                                                                                          Fries.. Still are great as the first time, but no poutine yet

                                                                                          Sandwich.. My only complaint last time was that I found it a little small, and maybe a little dry. This time the sandwich was much bigger, and my meat sliced nice and thinly. It was not dry, it was great, better than before. I got the medium fat and it was on the lean side which is just how I would prefer it...

                                                                                          Portions for everything this time was bigger than before, so I left stuffed this time :)

                                                                                          Only thing I forgot to find out is if he's selling the sliced meat by the lb. , I would like to make sandwiches at home

                                                                                          Oh and I also picked up a turkey sandwich, to go, which I will be eating very shortly.. Will report back on that one

                                                                                          Thumbs up!!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                                                            Yes, we sell by the pound both sliced or whole. Poutine is on the way as sure as the Leafs will make the playoffs. Okay, more sure than that.