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Yet another Caplansky's review

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There has been plenty of Caplansky's feedback. Count me in the happy group. That was a great sandwich. Not the best deli sandwich I've had, but nice flavour, smoky. Service is very friendly too. I also enjoyed the fries and found the coleslaw excellent. I guess there are mixed reviews on the slaw.

What a location, too. I like those dive bars. Plus, it's in Toronto's sandwich mecca, with California and San Francescos within spitting distance.

I also learned a few things:
-They're looking into making a smoked turkey sandwich
-They're considering some other healthier options for the menu
-Poutine, sounds like it's being debated. But it's not a kosher dish, so there's a pretty big hangup there

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  1. Love the place, but I'm a bit leery over this ambitious talk of expanding the menu. The worry is that juggling too many efforts will make the whole enterprise suffer, and that would be a shame. We've seen it before with other joints trying to do too much, eventually straying from what made them remarkable.

    1. Since nothing else about Caplansky's is Kosher,what difference would it make to do Poutine? I can't imagine what possible hangup that could cause.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Leslieville

        Well, about the expansion of the menu, I know what you mean. But I think a turkey sandwich would be a pretty standard, expected, addition for a deli. Beyond that, trying to broaden the appeal to health conscious, that's getting a bit worrisome.

        What's not kosher about Caplansky's? I don't know.

        1. re: grandgourmand

          Nothing at Caplansky's is kosher.

          1. re: embee

            I meant "what about Caplansky's makes it not kosher"....

            1. re: grandgourmand

              I'm looking forward to Zane expanding his menu a bit. He's shown that he's more than able to handle the smoked brisket, he's got the fries down, and personally, I like the 'slaw meself. If he's going to add turkey and poutine to the menu, so much the better - I suspect they'll turn out as stellar as what he's serving now.

              I also hear that he's working on making his own 'house-style' mustard and gravy.

              Caplansky's may not be kosher, but it's damn good food, and that's all that counts.

              1. re: grandgourmand

                In order for it to be a kosher restaurant, it has to have a kosher kitchen. This involves following many kashrut rules and having them approved by a rabbi (I think there's a more technical term for the rabbi that approves kasruth rules, but I can't think of it).
                Having said that, there's a lot of delis, Centre Street for example, that are not kosher, who sell bacon for example. I'm not sure why it would be a problem for Caplansky to serve poutine, if it's not a kosher restaurant anyways. If someone was concerned about it being a kosher restaurant, and whether they serve non-kosher items, they wouldn't eat the smoked meat there as it stands anyways.

                1. re: pescatarian

                  It's just pretty funny that 'the Monarch Tavern' and 'kosher' are being discussed in the same thread...lol

        2. Went Saturday. The sandwich is very good, the smoked meat has its own identity and to say it is like Schwartzes or any other smoked meat place is wrong.

          The fries are about as good as fries get and remind me of JKWB's without the poutine additives.

          The slaw is mild, and should please most.

          I was impressed with Zane since he came out to ask if we liked the food.

          Hope he stay's at the Monarch.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Scary Bill

            It's doubtful that Caplansky is too concerned about being kosher. Rare is the deli that's strictly kosher, and those that are aren't all that good. Besides, the hoops a joint has to go through to be strictly kosher can add about 20 per cent to the bill.

            I'm all for a good smoked turkey sandwich. Schwartz's in Montreal puts out a damn good one and it's an occasional nice change from the smoked brisket. When I can't make up my mind, I'll often consume both at a sitting.

            Healthy food at a deli? Haw, haw! I think not, though potato salad might make a very slightly healthy alternative to fries. Deli food is definitely not healthy. That's why it's so tasty when done right. However, I suspect it's somewhat healthier than those Italian sandwiches some of the clients bring upstairs to the Monarch to scarf down with their pitchers of beer.

            1. re: juno

              I really don't see the point of offering healthier choices. Unless it's to avoid situation where one person in the group won't go there because of the lack of healthy alternatives. Then again, the turkey sandwich might be the healthy alternative.

              About the poutine, as much as it offers great promise, there's something weird about the two items (i.e. smoked meat and poutine) sharing the same dance card.

              Overall, I'm a big fan of the place. I had half a sandwich left over (my wife's) and ate it cold a few hours after my visit. I was going to save the meat for breakfast the next morning, but the smoky flavour was lingering and I could hear a little voice from the fridge saying "come get me". I'm glad I caved.

              I think a really good day could be spent in that area. Have a California sandwich for breakfast. Caplansky's for lunch. And to lighten up, a fish sandwich from the Fish Store on College for dinner.

              1. re: grandgourmand

                Have you never had smoked meat poutine? Used to be quite common in Montreal and may still be. Excellent for the morning after.

                1. re: Googs

                  Most excellent for the morning after. It's really good very late the night before, just before sunrise but before you head home.

                  They used to serve it at Mel's up on Bloor near Borden. Stop in for a plate of that at 4am and then toddle off to bed. It was a meh dish for the most part but the smoked meat was a wonderful and welcome addition.

                  1. re: Googs

                    No, I have not had that. I grew up in Ottawa, where the poutine doesn't veer too much away from the original. At least not where I would hang out.

                    Interesting the morning after comment comes up. I was a bit "morning after'ed" when I went to Caplansky's. It hit the spot.

            2. OK, I had another Caplansky's sandwich today. Wow. It was darn near perfect. I had the fatty version, lovely flavour. The texture was great. Flaky, but just enough give to make it interesting. Very different from the medium I had last week. Goes to show the variety from a small batch producer. Zane showed me around his operation, talked about his plans to streamline the process...really good guy that cares about his product's integrity.

              1. Is the poutine ready here yet?

                1 Reply
                1. re: duckdown

                  Not yet.

                2. Finally got out there. Wandered around a bit lost until I found a phonebook and found 12 Clinton Street.

                  Amazing overall. Had a medium with fries and coleslaw. Add me to the fans of both the fries and the slaw. The sandwich itself was very tasty, certainly not a Montreal smoked meat but not corned beef or pastrami either. I don't know what it is, but I like it. Texture was perfect, spicing on mine wasn't overpowering, but still there and delicious.

                  The tavern is a charming little space, could be divey with a certain clientele, but when I was there everyone was a nice middle class person enjoying some deli. I will definitely be returning for another sandwich sometime.

                  Someone in another thread said their friend had two of these sandwiches. I could barely waddle out after my meal, I am impressed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Pincus

                    "a nice middle class person"...good description.

                    The spicing not being overpowering, I don't mind that. I think it's subtle. And the smoke isn't overpowering.

                    You're bang on with the fries and slaw.

                  2. Hey, I was there on Friday. Had another great sandwich. My fatty version was great. My friends had the medium, which was fattier than I remember. All good.

                    They've started serving the smoked turkey. My wife ordered it. A good one. A tad on the dry side, but good overall. Would probably be nice with coleslaw on it.