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Jun 10, 2008 01:22 PM

Caplansky's Smoked Meat - The REAL deal - AMAZING!!!

Went to Caplansky's @ the Monarch Tavern for lunch today. It was their first day of business. I had the combo (smoked meat sandwich (medium), fries, coleslaw and a pickle. Oh yeah, and a Cott's cherry :-)

I was sceptical, as I am with every new place that opens up in TO. So many places are disappointing, but this place was anything but.

The smoked meat was great. Well spiced, well marbled, meltingly fatty, tender - just about perfect. I can't believe that I'm actually saying this, but Zane Caplansy's smoked meat is equal to or might be even better than Schwartz's. Definitely superior to the smoked meat at Centre Street Deli, and I don't have to drive up to cottage country to get it.

Fries were good, not JK good, but good. And the coleslaw was excellent. More often that not, coleslaw is way too sweet, more like a dessert than a salad. Not this one. Great vinegar and onion flavour with a hint of sweetness. Best coleslaw I've had in a long time.

Embee wrote that the location inside the Monarch is problematic. For me, it's conveniently located and it feels right. What do those commercials say? - "About as far from Disney as you can get" - or something like that). Not the traditional style Jewish deli - but for me, it works. I think it's cool that a Jewish deli is shoehorned inside a downscale tavern/beer hall in what is now an Italian/Portuguese neighbourhood.

Embee, I hope you're wrong that deli mavens wouldn't go there on a bet. If the deli mavens you're referring to know anything about what real smoked meat should be, they'll be lining up around the corner.

Please, please go eat at Caplansky's. Make Zane's new Jewish deli a success. I want it to last a long time. But I hope it doesn't get too big... (I'm such a pessimist - I'm already thinking that he'll get too big, try to expand or franchise, and end up ruining it :-)

Check out the posting on Save the Deli about today's opening (


Long Live Caplansy's, Toronto's New King of Smoked Meat.

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  1. Good report and good blog link. Must try Caplansky's. Do they sell by the pound? Cryovac?

    5 Replies
    1. re: mrbozo

      What is the exact address? I am going to Mapquest it.

      Also, what time does it close? Maybe I'll pass by tonight if you speak that highly of it

      1. re: duckdown

        You'll want acd123 for that info: I'm just a drooling bystander at present, like you. ;)

          1. re: duckdown

            14 Clinton St. (at Henderson Ave.)

          2. re: mrbozo

            No. There's one sandwich. That's it!

            I'll be posting to the thread at

          3. This is great news. I can't wait to try it.

            If this is the real deal (the Schwartz's comparison is going to be controversial)...can we dream the dream and hope for a poutine place next?

            2 Replies
            1. re: grandgourmand

              if "Zane's new Jewish deli" was kosher, I'd be there. I'm presuming it's not...Toronto must have more non-kosher "Jewish" restaurants than anywhere else on earth.

              Surely, there must be enough of a market to elicit an altertnative to Marky's?

              1. re: fleisch

                No, it isn't remotely kosher. While Zane would not likely be kosher under any circumstances, I blame the COR for making it so hard to get certified that some people I know who seriously wanted to open kosher delis gave up on even trying.

                There's also the sad truth that there isn't any really good tasting kosher deli meat readily available in Toronto. To be good, a kosher deli would need to cure everything in house or import it from the States (from which Rubashkin - not my favourite - is the only currently available option). Given rents in the neighbourhoods where a kosher deli would need to locate, a simple sandwich would cost a mint.

                There was a kosher deli in First Canadian Place, called Menchen's, for many years. It was hardly great, but was better than Marky's. However, that location was only useful for weekday lunches if you happened to be in the downtown core. Olympia and York undoubtedly subsidized their rent, but they eventually sold the place to a pizza chain. I believe they are still around as a caterer.

                I can understand Marky's success in their early years, as the clientele had no alternatives and no basis for comparison. I can't understand it today. I wouldn't send my worst enemy to eat there. The Miami Grill on Clark Av, though not really a deli, is likely as good as it gets.

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                1. Tried this place today. Sandwich was good: noticeable smoke, decent marbling and very tasty spice.

                  Only complaint I could have is that the texture of the brisket itself is just a bit too tough for my taste. I always remember the montreal places being like butter! I literally had to fight with this sandwich on a few occasions...

                  Still, it will be nice to have a smoked meat deli in the area. Until I can get a sandwich at 2:00 AM I won't bother comparing it to Schwartz's.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: robopope

                    Traditionally cured smoked meat varies in texture. The "cuts like butter" stuff is all industrially cured. The injected chemicals create the texture. Schwartz smoked meat doesn't cut like butter. Nonetheless, you shouldn't need to fight with your sandwich.