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Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

Hello everyone - I'm finally airing my beef with Toronto Smoked Meat. I know this topic has been covered ad nauseum but I haven't had my two cents yet. When I first came here, I got recommendations from Torontonians in the 'know' and I realized that a smoked meat sandwich is almost double the price here than in Montreal ($6.50-$10.00). The next beef is that 99% of "deli's" here slice the meat with a machine (which is a sin in Montreal). Most places should take their meat off of the menu immediately. I'm not sure who is worse: The deli's claiming that they sell Montreal Smoked Meat or the people recommending these places.

My expertise: Like most Montrealers, I'm addicted to Smoked Meat and as a low estimate, I must have had 36 sandwiches per year X 25 years = 900 sandwiches PLUS 50 sandwiches in the past 13 years on my return trips to Montreal = approximately 950 Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches in Montreal (from over a dozen locations). With respect, I doubt if most critics on the internet or in Toronto newspapers and magazines share my level of experience. Also, I'm at a level that I used to bash deli's in Montreal who didn't serve proper Smoked Meat sandwiches, for example, you couldn't pay me to eat smoked meat from Chenoy's. So please be forewarned about what's coming. If you're from Toronto and you're sensitive, please go to the next post or have a stiff drink, then proceed.

I tried them all (with the exception of Caplansky's, I'll explain later).

Katz'on Dufferin: (claiming Best Deli in the world, or something to that effect) They don't have "Montreal Smoked Meat" on the menu, however, you could probably get better tasting deli meat at Dominion. I had a Pastrami Sandwich, walked along the cafateria line, watched them slice the meat on a machine as I cringed, and proceeded to taste, well, absolutely nothing. I never ate a piece of meat before that had absolutely no taste. It may as well have been tofu painted pink. How was the tenderness? Actually, very tender. It was the most tender tofu I ever had.

Switzer's in Brampton (near the airport location): They are really proud of their product. I mean really proud. The owner couldn't stop raving to me about how he has by far the best Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto. These people are fully dillusional. Their sandwich cannot be chewed. The meat is so tough, I could string the slices together and make a nice belt out of it. True story: I ate half of the first half and threw 3/4 of the sandwich under my car. I paid $8.50 for the sandwich and didn't have the heart to put my digestive system on overload trying to get this meat through my system. You have to be sadistic to actually swallow this sandwich.

Moe Pancer's on Bathurst: What could I say? I don't even know where to begin. Fist of all, this place is a Toronto Institution and "The place to go for deli" (self professed and confirmed by many Torontonians). I tried their Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich (which by the way, got rave reviews on Zagats who called it "home-made"). Pancer's has the review on their menu and on their website. I would like to meet the representative from Zagats who recommended this sandwich. Either there was a payoff involved or s/he was on hallucinogens when he ate the sandwich. Their sandwich, which cost me $8.15 was completely INEDIBLE. Probably the toughest "Montreal" Smoked Meat I have ever had. It is almost un-chewable. The meat is beyond a joke - I looked around me to see if there was anyone from 'candid camera' who was seeing my reaction to biting into their sandwich. I can't believe anyone would recommend this sandwich. Please, anyone who recommended this place for Montreal Smoked Meat, do everyone a favour and critique other foods and leave the Smoked Meat and deli to the experts. Back to the sandwich: The meat had the tenderness of biting into tough corn on the cob. I took two bites, got meat stuck in between all of my teeth that bit into the sandwich (you know, the way corn on the cob gets stuck in your teeth) and proceeded to throw the remaining 80% of the sandwich into the trash can. I was truly too embarrassed FOR the owner to march back into the place to demand my money back. What would I say? "Sir, your sandwich is completely inedible, please refund my $8.15, and I demand that you either take this item off your menu or change the meat". I'm not one to create a scene, so I opted to let the public know on this board. On the plus side of this place, their corned beef is delicious. It's home-made and tastes home-made. Their Zagat's review says "best corned beef in T.O., no, ANYWHERE". That's quite a bold statement from the most respected food critics in the world, wouldn't you say? The fact is: It's a delicious sandwich - a typical corned beef sandwich that you would find in most jewish deli's in Montreal. Which is a humongous compliment to Pancer's. Obviously, the Zagat's critic was never in Montreal. If you're ever in Montreal and you love Corned Beef, go to the Brown Derby - that's most likely the best ANYWHERE. If the critic ended with "best corned beef in Toronto", there would be more credibility. Great corned beef sandwich, and actually worth the $8.15 per sandwich relative to other deli sandwiches in Toronto.

Centre Street Deli on Centre Street: The first two or three times I went there (mid-nineties), I was in heaven. Delicious sandwich, which actually released endorphins into my system, as it was relieving my addiction. The sandwich ($7.25), was tender, tasty, nicely greasy, spicy - everything you could ask for. Absolutely phenomenal. Then it went downhill. The next four trips there, I had the exact same problem with the sandwich: The meat was not trimmed properly before it was sliced. I kept getting the stringy fat in my sandwich (you know, the bite in your sandwich that has the consistency of a rubber band). I had to pull out the bite from my mouth and toss it. I had conversations with a 35-year professional Smoked Meat cutter (he's been cutting over 100 sandwiches per day for 35 years) who told me that if the brisket was trimmed properly before it was sliced, you would never get that "bad fat" in to your sandwich (as he shook his head in dissapointment). In my 950 sandwiches that I had in Montreal, I never had to routinely take a rubber-band piece of fat and meat out of my mouth while I ate my sandwich. After I had this experience four times, I stopped going there. There's a limit on how many chances I could give a place. The last time I was there, I bought my sandwich, opened up both halves, took out the parts that were supposed to be trimmed (20% of the sandwich), then ate the sandwich. I shouldn't have to do that, so I stopped going there. If people in Toronto enjoy swallowing unchewable balls of rubbery fat, all the best to them. I won't be back.

Pickle Barrel (several locations): Quick description: Non-Offensive. The meat is always very tender, the taste is 'good', and it has some good grease in it. The only negatives are that it lacks the 'old-fashioned' peppercorn flavouring and there's not a hint of fat in the meat. For some reason, it's almost impossible to get the sandwich hot when it gets to my table. They take the meat out of a steamer (you actually see the steam coming out of it), but when I get the sandwich, it's at room temperature at best. Since the meat isn't spicy, is a little blander than Montreal Smoked meat, and no hint of fat, I call it "Pastrami". SO basically, if you love pastrami, order Pickle Barrel's Montreal Smoked Meat - it's the best Pastrami in Canada. It's good deli meat, it's just not Montreal Smoked Meat. Why have I gone there so often? It's the choice of my uncle who came here from Montreal over 30 years ago, who was so offended by Toronto's "Montreal" smoked Meat, it's now his choice in Toronto as the "least offensive" in the city. He is a senior citizen so I have no choice but to break bread with him at his place of choice.

Coleman's, Shopsy's, Druxy's: I'm not going to bother wasting any of my time critiquing these places. Just avoid at all cost.

Mel's Montreal: Please folks. Please don't make me laugh. I think there is a way for us to ban the owner from having the name "Montreal" in his restaurant permanently removed. Having Montreal in the name of the restaurant is misleading, false advertising. Their smoked meat is so far from authentic, I can't even continue writing.

Downtown deli's or take-outs with huge signs saying "we serve Montreal Smoked Meat": Avoid at all cost.

Dunn's downtown King Street: Nothing like Dunn's in Montreal. I went there once, it was really busy and the sandwich wasn't piled with any craftmanship whatsoever. It was as if a teen-aged helper grabbed a pile of sliced smoked meat and placed it in between slices of bread. It took over 30 minutes to get my sandwich and the way it was piled made the meat less tender (the meat has to be cut with precision and piled with precision to get optimal tenderness) - They missed the boat, I never returned. The taste of the meat as I recall was "ok". That was a few years ago, I wouldn't be surprised if they went out of business.

Wolfie's (Sheppard/Bathurst): I actually found this place on chowhound under a thread that recommended "places to satisfy your Smoked Meat addiction, but nothing close to Schwartz". It's interesting that in 13 years, not one person ever named this place to me. I always got the usual recommendations (Pancer's, Pickle Barrel and Centre Street). Back to Wolfies: I know why no-one recommended it. It's located in a desolate plaza, the place is a little bit of a dive and the owner closes the shop at 5 pm weeknights, completely closed on Saturdays, and closes at 3 pm on Fridays and Sundays. I guess the owner is religious / made enough dough to be semi-retired. I went there to check it out. Genuine Lester's Brisket, laced with black spicy peppercorns surrounding the entire brisket, steamed to perfection and piled high. The sandwich was 10/10 tender, served hot, nicely greasy, hints of fat in the sandwich, nice and spicy, (the meat hand cut upon request), and delicious. I'm shocked that I haven't even heard of this place before. It's three red lights away from Pancer's and no-one recommends it. Torontonians should be ashamed of themselves. Yes folks: I do understand that it's a standard Industrial Lester's Brisket that is served in 90% of deli's in Montreal. WHAT'S YOUR POINT? Isn't that what we want? For heaven's sake, outside of Schwartz, Abies, Briskets and Snowdon Deli, we're eating Lester's in Montreal deli's and diners. Let's not nit-pick. There are other deli's in Toronto who serve Leter's, however, they don't trim the meat properly, they don't steam and preserve the meat properly, don't cut the meat properly, don't serve the meat hot, don't pile it high, and don't stack it properly. At Wolfie's the guy "has it going on". In today's lingo: "He the man". Their meat is steamed piping hot, trimmed properly, cut to perfection, stacked properly, piled high, it has spice, great grease, delicious taste, and served steaming hot. By far, the best Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich I ever had in Toronto. BY FAR !!!! There's plenty of negatives about this place, however, if you stick to the topic of Smoked Meat Sandwiches, THIS IS THE PLACE.

Negatives about the place (not that I care because they have the best sandwich): Other than a pickle, thier sides are non-existent or not worth ordering. I ordered a $3.50 Knish, wondering how huge it would be for that price. I was served the largest microwaved "dough-ball" I ever had. No potato taste. I don't think there was any potato in the recipe. I was nicely ripped off, thank you very much. I didn't order fries because my stomach does have limits. The hours of operation leaves 90% of us unable to catch this guy cutting sandwiches. It's not a place that you could sit and enjoy your meal - the tables are 1940's style and seating area is un-inviting. I would leave it as strictly a "take-out and eat in car" place (or eat-in the park across the street place). One last note: I enjoyed my two sandwiches so much, I took 2 pounds to go. Without my consent, the owner cut slices from a cold brisket that he had in the fridge and sold it to me, when I got home, I was shocked to find meat that I could have bought at any supermarket in Montreal - cold, machine sliced Lester's meat. I wanted hot, steamed hand-cut meat. Frankly, I was pissed - $22 down the drain. If you get take out, make sure it's cut hot, by hand, and that you eat it within a couple of hours. If you refrigerate the meat, it becomes supermarket quality meat the next day due to it's industrial processed nature. Unless you have an industrial steamer to revive the meat, you'll find it DOA the next day.

Peter's on Eglinton (Mississauga): Frankly, it's too far for my to try their sandwich, especially since it's Lester's meat, like Wolfies. If they take the same care making their sandwiches as Wolfies does, power to you, if you live in the West end, enjoy. Since I found and enjoy Wolfies, and Peter's sells the same meat, there's no point for me to shlep to Mississauga for their sandwich.

Caplansky's: I heard all the buzz and I'm really excited to try their non-industrially processed, straight-out-of-the-smoker Smoked Meat sandwich. People have said that he's tweaking the recipe and it's inconsistent right now, even their fries are told to be inconsistent, so I'm giving it a few more weeks and I'm waiting for the right time to pop in to critique the man's sandwich. I am a little wary though, and I'll tell you why - the paper gave him a delicious amazing write-up, and we all know that Torontonian food critics have such agendas, it's not worth reading them. I trust chowhound miles before a newspaper write-up. You will hear from me after my visit though - for sure.

Enjoy everyone !!!

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  1. Since Peter's on Eglinton is the one I am most familiar with, I am disappointed that you cannot tell me your stance on it

    1 Reply
    1. re: duckdown

      It may be that this thread should form the basis of a dissertation, but in the short-term I think it would be a fantastic article for a magazine like the Art of Eating. Montrealer70 and Embee, you are great scholars of deli and I'm grateful you shared some of your knowledge with us. I strongly encourage either one of your or both to pitch this topic to AoE. I would love to read about it further.

    2. since i have never been to montreal i wont know what a real montreal smoke meat sandwhich is like but i do know which place i like to go to for a good sandwhich, that being the "montreal delli" in mississauga it is located on dundas road a few blocks west of the 427 highway. one sanwhich i like is the Philly Cheese Steak sandwhich and after having an original one from Pats Steaks in Philledelphia, all others are pale immitations. I would be interested to hear your thoughts about the delli on dundas if you ever try it. I have also tried peters on eglington and found it to be seriously lacking in taste and quality.

      1. FYI Mel of Mel's is a woman.

        1. Caplansky's is awesome. As a fellow smoked meat aficionado, I'd recommend trying it now just to see where the tweaking leads to. The cabbage borscht is almost better than the sandwich, and the fries are dynamite. The coleslaw is also handmade and is mild and refreshing. They also now have a turkey sandwich...but who cares about that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Everythingtarian

            I'm definitely craving the caplansky's. Will probably go with the borscht next time instead of fries. I love borscht. they say the soup of the day varies, but each time I'm there, it's borscht.

            About montrealer70's comments on Caplansky's inconsistency. Yes, it's an issue, but hardly a major one. I've had three sandwiches so far. The best was the second. A fatty with perfect texture (i.e. tender, but just enough resistance to make it interesting) and flavour (in my opinion, not an expert on deli meat, but a decent sample size in my history). My last sandwich was 7-8 weeks after the G&M article. And it was still very good.

            You commented on price a couple times in your review. It's a $6 sandwich ($11 for the meal, with pickle soup or fries). Hardly a risk to feel ripped off.

            Bottom line, Montrealer70, do yourself a favour and head over there. I can't wait until my next visit.

            Oh and my wife enjoyed the smoked turkey. I thought it was a bit dry, but whatever.

          2. Too bad you didn't get out to Peter's on Eglinton it is great. Humongous portion sizes and as you mention using Lester's meat. My favorite is the Montreal Deli on Dundas just West of 427. Their old fashioned platter is just the right size for me, probably Lester's meat as well, and great Montreal style service. Wait staff that can get you in, served, and out as quickly as you would like . . . without being rushed.

            While I don't tend to get as upset about things as Montrealer70 I have to mention that I can not find one darned thing that I like about Katz' deli. I've gone all of twice because I had business in the area and it is where someone wanted to go for lunch. Both times the meat was dry and you really needed to wash it down with something. . . anything. . . but the tiny glasses they give you for cola ain't big enough . . . you need a big gulp.

            Oh. . . I should mention, if it makes a difference, I am an ex-Montrealer

            1 Reply
            1. re: Alacrity59

              I had a meeting in Etobicoke and finally got down to the MONTREAL DELI on Dundas Street, West of the 427. I went in to take out an old-fashioned Smoked Meat Sandwich. I walked in and was greeted with a huge smile by the hostess, who directed me to the cash to get take out. I ordered my sandwich (one regular-sized old fashioned smoked meat sandwich, hand-cut, medium fat with yellow mustard - $6.50). As I waited for my sandwich, the waitresses took turns passing by me and smiled at me when passing each way getting their orders. Either my after shave was doing it's thing or this really is the Montreal Deli. I've never seen such warm service in Toronto since my arrival. I looked through the menu and I really wanted to try half a dozen selections (including the breakfast). The atmosphere was that of a warm brunch-serving restaurant whose country-inn decor and warm staff would fit in perfectly in the Laurentians. I really felt at home. Another good sign about the place is that it was packed in the early afternoon!! A rarity in Toronto. I find that 90% of casual restaurants are dead between 2:00 and 5:00. Not here. The place was hustling and bustling with patrons.

              Now to the sandwich: Definitely Lester's Brisket. Delicious - dripping with grease and tender, as I would expect from Lester's. Perfectly piled and cut. As you know, I recommended the Wolfie sandwich, and this sandwich was identical with one major exception: The Montreal Deli Sandwich had at least 50% more meat in it. And I ordered the 'regular' sandwich. I can't even imagine how much meat they would put into the "heffer" sandwich for $9.99 !!! The regular sandwich was definitely a fresser on it's own. To put it into perspective, when I reached into the bag, I pulled out a hot package the size of a football. Unreal! Truly a steal at $5.75 plus tax as well.

              One note that I have to make is that I decided from here on to order machine sliced sandwiches if it's a processed brisket. I find that it comes out a little more tender than hand-cut. There's really no point in hand-cutting the "perfectly tender" processed Lester's meat.

              The whole point to "hand cutting" is that Fresh-Smoked Brisket has to be cut following the grain of the meat in order to be tender (as Embee describes below) - It cannot be done with accuracy with a machine. The next time I get a Lester's sandwich, I'm ordering a "sliced-thin" by machine.

              Obviously, for the 'real deal', you have to go to Caplansky's in Toronto for Smoked Brisket. If you're in the West-End and time is an issue or the trek to little Italy gets you down, the Montreal Deli gets my seal of approval for your fix.

              Although I could get a Lester's sandwich at other locations (Centre Street, Wolfies), I will be back to the Montreal Deli. I like the atmosphere and I want to try other menu items as well. This will be more than just a take out smoked meat sandwich place for me. I love the atmosphere.

              On a final note, as traffic was starting to be an issue, I had to boot out of the West End to avoid the 401 parking lot otherwise I would have tried Peter's on Eglinton. I know that they use Lester's, so I take everyone's word that it's delicious and they pile it high (although West-enders could debate over who piles it higher). I will make my way there some day, but it's far for me so it may not be soon. I also checked out their website (petersoneglinton.com)and they have a full menu that looks very appetizing. I'll get there some day.

              I made a discovery today about the fat in Smoked Meat Sandwiches and I'm adding a new post on the bottom called "How to order your fat" to share my findings.

            2. Thanks for the detailed and honest review. One of these days I will have to get out to this little-known Wolfie's and try it out.

              Caplansky's is quite good, not so much about the spices as about the smoke.

              1. Hello again :-)

                I'm the crazed deli nut here. Forget good Montreal smoked meat. Good Jewish deli of any kind is a problem in Toronto. We had one place that damn near duplicated the Schwartz smoked recipe recipe, but otherwise ran an inhospitable restaurant and failed (Reuben S. on King St). There are NO truly great delis in Toronto. (Zane Caplansky may change this situation in the future if his enthusiasm holds up.)

                They actually cure all of their own meats. They even make their own franks (which are high quality and in a natural casing, but lack adequate spice and aren't worth eating). Their process seems to be a natural brine cure, but it is machine injected. They have a real smoker. Montreal smoked meat is on the menu, but it isn't good and I've never seen it ordered. Their meats can't be sliced by hand successfully. The comparison with Dominion isn't fair. You must ask for medium (which is still very lean). More important, you must know to ask for lots of "sauce". This used to be applied to the sandwiches automatically, but they stopped some years back, probably when people started to worry about fat. Without the "sauce", half the flavour vanishes. However, the pastrami at Katz's, when fresh, tastes fine. They are a crappy employer who fire staff on a whim, so cutters don't necessarily have expertise. The good: nothing has changed in forty years through three locations. The bad: nothing has changed in forty years. Their beef knish filling is delicious and said knish makes a bargain meal. (The knish dough is garbage.)

                When they were downtown on Spadina, they cured their own meats. They machine sliced even back then. The flavours weren't extremely strong (I personally prefer very spicy), but the meats were otherwise impeccable. They did not even sell Montreal smoked meat back then. They made great knishes (a potato knish stuffed with beef) and they imported Nathan's franks and good kosher franks from New York City. I had some bad experiences there when they moved to Sheppard Av and stopped going. Torbram Rd is not part of my world, so I can't comment on the present. Do they claim to cure their own meat nowadays?

                Moe Pancer's:
                They do NOT cure their own meats. The meats come from Chicago 58. Pancer's adds some spices to the pastramis and resteams them. Corned beef and pastrami are okay, but you must specify hand sliced (which costs extra), medium fat, and extra spice on the pastrami. I'd never order Montreal smoked meat there. Pancer's is one of the few places, and the best of the places, that still smells like a deli.

                Montreal's Brown Derby, likely one of the best delis anywhere, has been defunct for many years now. They opened a Toronto branch almost 30 years ago, which was equally good, but they picked a ridiculous location at Yonge & St Clair and didn't last long.

                Centre St:
                This is Snowdon transplanted. I believe that the owners are siblings. They are the only "genuine Montreal" place around here. They sell Lester's, and are about the only place in the GTA that has the "old fashioned" version. If you get a bad sandwich there, complain to Cheryl or Sam and ask Sam to cut the meat for you himself. I'd bet that, on your earliest visits, Sam was making the sandwiches. He's mainly management these days, but he will still "get his hands dirty". Much of their cooking is very good, which is unusual among Toronto delis. I find their use of a pork product when one orders "stuffed chicken" a very objectionable practice. All things considered, Centre St is the best "Montreal style" deli in Toronto.

                Pickle Barrel:
                Pickle Barrel is not a deli - it is a family restaurant. It once was a deli, and a very good one, but that was decades ago. Based on your description, they are succeeding at their objective, which is "always something (unobjectionable) for everyone". It seems that some locations are more consistently okay than others, but Pickle Barrel can be extremely bad. If you order pastrami, you'll get something spicier than if you order smoked meat. I'm not certain about their supplier, but it may be Chicago 58. As with Katz's and Pancer's, this is not a Montreal smoked meat place.

                It looks, feels, and smells like a real deli, but I don't like it. Like most Toronto delis, it never was about Montreal smoked meat. One exception: by far Toronto's best corned beef hash - worth a trip if you happen to like corned beef hash.

                It's a fast food counter. It never was a real deli. It's quite good for what it is, but it sucks as an actual deli.

                A deli tragedy. Though they had become a major, crappy industrial meat processor by the late sixties, they served great, fresh, hand cut pastrami and corned beef sandwiches at their Spadina deli. The Shopsowitz family sold to, of all possible entities, Lever Bros. It has been through a laughable number of owners since then and is just another bad family restaurant. Weirdly, the current owner, who is Irish and owns a good pub, supposedly had some interesting plans, but they are being evicted when their lease ends.

                That place is an abomination, but their use of "Montreal" is justified. Melanie Simpson is an ex-Montrealer and the rubbery, chemical-laced, artificially flavoured meat with painted-on smoke is actually imported from Montreal. Really! I have no idea who makes it, but YUK! The ugliness of this relatively new resto (they used to be on University & Adelaide) is also beyond belief.

                There's no reason to go there, though it is less disgusting than Mel's. It is not connected with the Dunn's in Montreal. Frankly, when I lived in Montreal, I found both Dunn's and Ben's to serve meats similar to those now served at Mel's. I loathed both places.

                My understanding is that the Dunn's currently operating in Montreal may be better. However, I've only tasted their meat served from plastic packs at Costco.

                Sadly, your chances of getting something resembling your takeout are probably greater than your chances of repeating that impeccable sandwich. I haven't been there in years after a few good, but mostly bad, experiences. You've piqued my interest, so I'll probably try Wolfie's again when I'm up that way. The guy isn't religious. They aren't kosher. He just doesn't want to work very hard. Most customers are regulars. I've felt ripped off more often than not.

                If you live relatively east, Jody's on Kingston Rd north of Queen serves fresh machine sliced Lester's. Not special, but certainly edible. Zoulpy's on King E, a Greek diner, serves a satisfying machine sliced industrial smoked meat (ordered as pastrami) for a good price. Again, not special, but okay. The Corned Beef House on Adelaide also serves machine sliced Lester's.

                I've posted in detail elsewhere. This is not Montreal smoked meat, so don't go expecting it. It's hand made and smoked in house. It is less spicy than Schwartz, but smokier. He's still experimenting and has changed meat suppliers a few times. It is becoming more consistent. My last two sandwiches were impeccable. Order it fatty! The cutters are new at the job and you probably won't get a perfectly stacked sandwich with consistently thick slices. If you don't think "Montreal", I suspect you'll like it. The regular size is $6 and the "fresser" size is $10. All the fries I've had there have been great. Feel free to make suggestions to Zane about improving the food. As with our discussion of Hollinger's on another thread, the ambiance is "unusual".

                12 Replies
                1. re: embee

                  Yeah, the fatty is great at Caplansky's. Maybe you can help me with this one...the first fatty I ordered must have come from a portion with a single layer of fat cap. The second had intense marbling. Both were awesome, but I preferred the first. Is there a way to order from a different section of the brisket?

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    When he first opened, the briskets were singles. Now they are doubles. Try ordering medium, or a mix of top and bottom slices.

                    If you aren't worried about your arteries, order it sliced from the top section. For lean, order from the bottom.

                  2. re: embee

                    Any idea of Caplansky's current meat supplier? I thought it was still Grace Meats. Actually got directions to go to Caplansky's through Grace Meats(I didn't take down the exact address of Caplansky's except that it was on College & Clinton).

                    1. re: BLM

                      He has switched to a new supplier who has a better understanding of the type of briskets he needs. I've forgotten the name, but I'll ask when I'm next in. He monitors Chowhound, so he might post an answer.

                      1. re: embee

                        What type of briskets is he looking for? Not sure how Schwartz's in Montreal, select their briskets.

                        1. re: BLM

                          I can't speak for him. Issues include size consistency, deckle/flat proportion, and fat distribution.

                      2. re: BLM

                        I buy my meat from Allan Weisberg at the Butcher Shoppe in Etobicoke.

                        1. re: Caplansky

                          There are several briskets on the Butcher Shoppe list.
                          So, it begs the question, "Is the brisket cured and cooked there, then spiced and smoked on Clinton St.?"

                      3. re: embee

                        embee wrote:
                        "If you live relatively east, Jody's on Kingston Rd north of Queen serves fresh machine sliced Lester's. Not special, but certainly edible."

                        Judging by the long and detailed discourses in this thread, I'm in the company of "crazed deli nuts" (embee's words), so I don't proclaim any expertise, just a keen appetite for smoked meat. This has brought me to Jody's twice in the past week. The big advantage for me is location, on Kingston Road (west side), a block north of Queen St. East not far from home in Scarborough Southwest. Very few other if any places in the area serve smoked meats, so Jody's is important to us east-enders. The first time there I ordered a medium-sized corned beef for $6.95. Lots of meat - 5 ounces Jody says - enough for two days, quite tasty. But that's not this thread's topic. I returned a few days later for a small (3 oz.) Montreal smoked meat sandwich, $5.95. I thought it was delicious, as were the gratis pickle slices. As I say, not only a good location, but free parking behind the store off the side street just north of it. In the warm weather you can step over a small chain fence and go in the back door. There are a couple of tables, but most of Jody's business is takeout. I'll be back soon.

                        1. re: Bob Catt

                          Can you order the meat by the pound from Jody's?

                          1. re: pescatarian

                            So far I've only ordered sandwiches, but you can ask Jody herself - 416 698-3354. BTW, we have a family member who's a pescetarian. She doesn't eat meat, but eats seafood and veggies. Your web alias makes me ask if the meat from Jody's for someone else? I hope you don't mind my curiosity.


                            1. re: Bob Catt

                              Thanks for the info.

                              Re your question, when I joined CH a few years ago, I was a pescatarian (preceded by being a vegetarian for many years). I've been an omnivore now for a couple years ;)

                              I grew up eating Jewish deli meat, btw - but the "inferior" Toronto version, apparently. Although, most of our deli by the pound came from Wolfie's when I was a kid actually.
                              I live in East York now and I have family coming over for lunch on Sunday, so Jody's might come in handy ;-)

                      4. As someone who has visited almost all of the delis mentioned in this thread (including Schwartz's) I've always been curious why one would prefer a hand sliced sandwich to machine sliced?

                        49 Replies
                        1. re: Rudiger

                          In short, brisket is a weird cut of meat. If not cut correctly against the grain, it is too tough to chew, and the direction of the grain keeps changing.

                          Cutters constantly monitor the grain and turn the meat as necessary. When you are cutting by machine, it's almost impossible to monitor the grain, even if you want to do it right.

                          A second point is that well cooked brisket has a succulence that disappears once it has cooled. Fresh, hot brisket tends to shred when cut by machine. Conversely, cold brisket is almost impossible to cut by hand. Even Schwartz would cut by machine if you want your meat cold.

                          Finally, hand cut and machine cut brisket taste different. I don't know why. In the end, the taste factor is a personal preference.

                            1. re: embee

                              Embee, I'll tell you what: I'll re-try Centre Street if you re-try Wolfies. I had four sandwiches there, and all four were consistent. You could actually see Dave precisely placing the meat in the sandwich, with care. P.S, a suggestion: Tell him you're from Montreal and ask for it hand-cut with some fat. Otherwise, you're getting it Toronto style machine cut, lean (still nice and greasy though).

                              My thought after enjoying the Wolfie's sandwich was "this sandwich could be served in Montreal". Other than really early visits to Centre Street, I haven't had that thought here in Toronto.

                              As for Centre Street, Cheryl is the Daughter of the Snowdon Deli owner. I've had dozens of sandwiches from Snowdon Deli and every time I left the deli, I left on a high after my two sandwiches, fries and Black Cherry. I never, ever had a bad thought leaving Snowdon Deli. I will re-try Centre Street by the end of the summer.

                              I still have to try Peter's On Eg. and Montreal Deli. West-enders need to know how their deli "stacks-up" with the rest of the city. Funny that you added your two cents here because "youdonut" recommended Mtl-Deli's Philly, so I have a lot to try in the upcoming days.

                              I'm saving Caplansky's for last. For me, it's the mother of all Brisket sandwiches in Toronto, so I have to respect his sandwich by going there last of all. I'm extremely excited and nervous to try it (I don't want to be dissapointed). Thanks for the tips on how to order it.

                              I'll repost !!!

                              1. re: montrealer70

                                I've long heard, but never verified, that Snowdon's smoked meat, though made by Lester's, uses a customized recipe. I haven't lived in Montreal since 1970, so I've never bothered to pursue this. I have no reason to believe, based on taste, that Centre St serves anything other than the standard Lester's regular and old fashioned briskets. However, the salamis at Centre St do have a custom "Delisnowdon" label.

                                The Delisnowdon salamis contain "beef by-products" and milk ingredients, which does not speak toward high quality at either place.

                                When I lived in Montreal, Snowdon, though hardly a kosher deli, didn't serve pork products. They still don't list any pork products on their website, though I don't know what they serve at the resto. I have no problem with Centre St serving, say, a BLT, since you know what you are getting. Their Lester's "stuffed chicken", which is actually pork, I consider simply wrong.

                                I'm not disagreeing with your comments about Centre St. It's the best Montreal style deli in the GTA, but it isn't a great deli. I've had some sandwiches there over the last couple of years that were very good and others that were as you described. Unlike you, I'd have no hesitation about sending a poor sandwich back and asking Sam to cut me a new one. I'd probably also do that at Pancer's, but I wouldn't bother at most of the other places.

                                I live and work near Queen St and don't go north all that often, but your deal is on. I will check out Wolfie's the next time I'm in the area and will specify my order very precisely.

                                Neither I, nor anyone whose palate I know well, has been to either Peter's or the Montreal Deli, Therefore, I can't comment about anything at either place.

                                BTW, when I lived in Montreal, I tried every local deli. I settled on Schwartz for smoked meat and the Brown Derby for pretty well everything else.

                                1. re: embee

                                  Embee, I appreciate your comments - let me just air my beef with Centre Street, then I'll let it rest. In my opinion, aesthetically, it's the most inviting what I call "Modern" Jewish Deli in the city. They also have the most selection, best quality Jewish sides and take-out items (although pricy) that I have found. My beef is this: If I sold smoked meat sandwiches for a living, I would serve every single sandwich as if I was the one eating it. A patron shouldn't have to bring his sandwich back and say "can you please replace my sandwich". So it's not really an issue of their customer service - which may be 5-star, it's an issue of quality control. What if I took out 7 sandwiches for a group of people at work? (a hypothetical situation) How would I have three sandwiches replaced? You know what I mean. I just lost trust in their sandwich. Centre Street has MILES of potential, but honestly, I feel like either they don't care or they lack the expertise to serve consistent Smoked Meat.

                                  Schwartz is in a league of it's own, even in Montreal. Undoubtedly, the best Brisket Sandwich money could buy, and ironically, the lowest price. The last time I was there about 4 years ago, I noticed they had raised their price from $4.20 to $4.85 for their sandwich, when sandwiches in Toronto ranged from $6.25-$10.00.
                                  When I have the chance, I have people from Montreal bringing me 1-3 Lbs. of Schwartz when they come for a visit, so I'm out of touch with their single sandwich price at the moment.

                                  To put it into perspective, when I had Schwartz at my fingertips, I went there more than once a month for a minimum of two sandwiches plus 1 pound to go - at a minimum.

                                  My purpose for starting this whole post was to give my opinion on who has the best Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich in Toronto, period. For an addict like me, I need my fix (even if I have to eat it in my car). So far, bar none, it's Wolfies all the way.

                                  If I had friends in from Montreal asking us to take them out for a nice sit-down deli lunch, that's a different story. If Peter's is everything that people say it is, I very well may make the trek down there. I've seen posts on other food web-sites that rave about that place. I'm definitely going to share my opinions after my visit there. Yes, I understand that it's not a Jewish deli, however, there's plenty of family restaurants in Montreal with a diverse menu (including deli) that I frequented - for example Moe's in the West Island or Picasso's on St. Jacques. It would be good to find a place here in T.O. that doesn't rhyme with 'ickle Barrel'.

                                  I'm getting worked-up about Caplansky's, it's been on my mind - does anyone know the operating hours? I don't want to trek to Clinton St. and find that he's closed on Wed. afternoons, for example. I have to go there soon.

                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                    Mondays closes at 5, Sunday closed all day, otherwise 11:30 am-9 pm.


                                    1. re: montrealer70

                                      Once again, I agree with you. I find the state of Jewish deli in Toronto so distressing that I have cured my own pastramis for many years.

                                      Unfortunately, my smoker can't be used indoors and was inaccessible in the snow all of last winter. I also can't anticipate a craving three weeks in advance and, this summer, I haven't had time to make any. Caplansky's has helped with cravings, but it's not easy for me to get there to due to traffic and parking considerations at times when I'm free - even though it's downtown.

                                      I make allowances for a lack of 100% perfection, especially at a low lost, unpretentious restaurant. Briskets are notoriously difficult to cure, cook, and cut. That's why a Schwartz sandwich doesn't always taste the same. But an industrial cure should deliver relative consistency. They should take more pride in making every sandwich great, but you've lived here long enough to know that Torontonians, in general, do not demand the best. It's true in sports, in the arts, and in dining choices. There's also the background issue that Toronto is not overrun with experienced, skilled brisket cutters.

                                      Caplansky's is open (using their words) Tuesday - Saturday, noonish to nine. Late lunch - early dinner is probably the best time. They may close early if they aren't busy. And PLEASE, if there's a problem with your sandwich, let them know. Zane really cares what you think. It seems that Sam and Cheryl may be beyond that though Sam, himself, likely still has that pride.

                                      Remember, it isn't "Montreal" smoked meat and you're going to a bar, not a deli.

                                      1. re: montrealer70

                                        I’ve really enjoyed all of these posts, thank you all for your remarkable insight and knowledge and passion.

                                        I can’t believe we’re having a conversation about Wolfie’s. When I was a little punk kid my dad always used to take me. He was raised in Montreal and his passion for smoked meat brought us there often. When I was a kid I did enjoy it, I must say. But over the years, most notably the past 15 years it has stagnated terribly. The sandwiches, in my view, are ho-hum to sometimes decent. The sides are pretty disgusting and not worth any sort of conversation. The atmosphere is appalling. To say this place is ‘dated’ is too generous. It is stuck in 1973, and not in a charming, old school way. The space is neglected and the owners are surly odd characters, and it is all very palpable. It’s one thing to back up your surliness with a good product. But I don’t think they even have that! And whenever I am there (been a couple of years, I was dragged by my dad who was in need of a fix) it is dead. I can’t even say you can hear crickets chirping. That implies a vitality the place hasn’t had in decades. Rather, you can hear crickets die. It’s an old relic of a neglected establishment and it smells. And the sandwiches are just not even close to being up to par to make me want to subject myself to the owners or their sad restaurant. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s still in business. Your great experience is surprising to me, but knowing what I know of this place, not enough to even begin to get me to entertain a thought of revisiting it.

                                        On other threads I have been an ardent proponent of Centre Street Deli. I still can’t understand the bad/inconsistent experiences people have had there. I’ve been many many times, and not once – not once – have I ever had a sandwich that wasn’t fantastic. I come from a long line of brisket worshippers, butchers, and Montrealers and I can honestly say I believe CSD stacks up against deli anywhere. I’m not talking about the sides (CSD fries are great btw, the other sides…..some good some not so good), I’m talking smoked meat. I know people have their issues with CSD. All I know is I kneel at the steps of Schwartz’s but I also believe CSD serves beautiful sandwiches. But hey, this is just my opinion, which I’ve recorded to death on other threads. I know there are those that disagree. To each their own.

                                        Caplansky’s is excellent but it's not Montreal smoked meat. It is very much a fusion of Montreal style and Southern. Mainly though, the taste is southern smoke. If you go in expecting Schwartz’s you’ll be in for a shock. It is similar to Schwartz’s only in that it is artisanal and hand-made/cut, and served on rye with mustard. But in taste, expect southern brisket. But with more fat and served in the deli style.

                                        I can’t comment on all of the other businesses mentioned as I have not been to them all. All I can comment on are some of those places I’ve been to or know well:

                                        - Mel’s. Disgusting.

                                        - Montreal Deli. My dad took me years ago, when I didn’t know anything about anything. Even then I thought it was forgettable.

                                        - Pickle Barrel. Haha, yeah right. Over the years PB has changed into a slick, corporatized crap factory. It’s sad. When I was a kid the food used to be so yummy. Now, I wouldn’t send an enemy there.

                                        - Pancers. Only had the corned beef. Thought it was pretty decent. Not much of an atmosphere and I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there. While I am on the subject of corned beef, Yitz’s, an institution, has incredible hot, fatty corned beef sandwiches. Yet for some reason it is never on anyone’s radar. Too bad. Just because it is in Forest Hill doesn’t make it bad. Its corned beef is succulent. As are its blueberry pies! It's sad to see the turn Yitz’s has taken this past decade. Still has great food but its location is dated and it really shows. I remember when you had to wait for a table there. Gone are those days, big time. Too bad too. The food is still great and no one knows about it. Wish they’d make some changes to bring people in. Cuz as good as the food is even I rarely go there. It’s just too quiet and sad. It’s not in the kind of horrific shape as Wolfie’s. Not even close. But if things don’t change, it won’t be far off.

                                        - Coleman’s. Slightly better than Mel’s. Basically, it’s terrible.

                                        I’ve been to some of the others but they are nothing special and I’ve written enough.

                                        1. re: magic

                                          Great post Magic. I enjoyed it a lot. ok, you weighed in on your Wolfie's opinion, you grew up on it - I like the fact that your dad dragged you to get his smoked meat fix, I grew up in Montreal and my dad dragged us out to every deli in the city. Now I'm addicted. I still stand by the Wolfie's sandwich, forget about ambiance, sides, and staff/owner personality - if I had six Toronto sandwiches in front of me, I would choose the Wolfie's sandwich. I just discovered Wolfies and like I said, plenty of negatives about the restaurant (or maybe take-out counter is a better description), but the guy makes a mean sandwich. I bet you if I went to a specific restaurant counter as much as you have, I would start finding it boring and blah as well, so I see your point. In fact, if there were ten viable options here to go for Smoked Meat, it would be good for all of us to rotate our visits to each. Like I told Embee, I'm going to re-try Centre Street. I know they have potential to make a great sandwich and I do like the atmosphere.

                                          As for Pickle Barrel, I feel the same way as you feel about Wolfies. Maybe I've been there to many times, but I used to find it a very fun atmosphere, with superb tasting, quality food and now I find it boring, blah, nothing special, and went downhill steadily since the 80's (in quality of food and service). By the same token, if a tourist went to Pickle Barrel today on Leslie St., I wouldn't be surprised if he enjoyed the food and the diversity of the menu.

                                          1. re: montrealer70

                                            Man, I could really go for a sandwich now : )

                                            1. re: montrealer70

                                              I was summoned suddenly today by a client at Dufferin and Sheppard, so my Wolfie's foray came much sooner than I expected. The news is not good. Indeed, the news is very, very bad.

                                              While the place has been described pretty well by both you and magic, I'd like to add a bit more. The wretched strip plaza is even worse than I remembered, with plenty of potholes and large piles of garbage sitting on the sidewalk and in the parking lot between cars. I assume this was collection day, but the other, similar plazas in the vicinity were not similarly decorated. Truly a disgusting intro. I was panhandled as I was leaving my car.

                                              There were no other customers in the store (which looks to date from well before the seventies). There was no visible staff, though I could hear a voice from the back talking on the phone.

                                              The woman eventually ended her personal conversation and came behind the counter. The contents of the display fridge, unlike everything else, looked encouraging, with shrink wrapped packages of Lester's old fashioned and a bag of Mello karnatzel. So there was hope.

                                              Hope was dashed quickly. I ordered a hand cut, medium fat old fashioned with hot mustard. "I don't hand cut" said the woman. I told her that I was under the impression that they did hand cut meat. "David's at the dentist" was her answer. She disappeared into the back, leaving me alone at the counter.

                                              I was panhandled again, by someone else, as I drove out of the parking lot.

                                              I tried. I really tried.

                                              1. re: embee

                                                Embee, did you try the sandwich? I can't believe Dave was at the dentist at the exact time you went in for a sandwich. (not that it should matter - at a 'normal' deli, they would have a back-up person to be able to make you a sandwich). The work ethic at this place, either they are very comfortable or very lazy. They run their counter like it's a hobby. I know plenty of dentists who make appointments up to 8 PM and Wolfies locks their doors at 5 !! I assume you left without having a sandwich. I never mentioned it but the second time I went back to Wolfies, I arrived at 5:30 PM (the start of dinner rush), to find the place closed. I think it was reasonable for me to assume that a suburban deli counter would be open at least until 7 or 8 PM (I was pissed). On that day, I took 3 Pancer's Corned Beef sandwiches to go and ate them at the park (yes, one was for my wife). Between the hours of operation, the owner's laissez-faire attitude towards serving the public, the 70's decor, the awful sides and the un-inviting hospitality, I really can't blame people for giving up on this place. I really understand now why people leave it off of thier recommendation list. Nonetheless, he does serve a mean sandwich (if he's open and if he's in the mood to make you one). It's a real shame. Sorry Embee.

                                                1. re: montrealer70

                                                  No, I never did get a sandwich. Why would I want a cold, machine sliced Lester's sandwich?

                                                  I was going to take some karnatzel, but she vanished before I could order anything and left me standing alone at the counter.

                                                  I'm glad you've had good luck there, but I don't think I would go in there again if I happened to be driving by and was famished.

                                                2. re: embee

                                                  Embee, I just got off the phone with my brother in Montreal. He told me he went to Wolfies around six years ago while he was in town on business. I'm quoting him: "The sandwich was good but the place was a dump". Man did I laugh. I guess we're from the same stock. I told him all about Caplansky's, he can't wait to go. I'll post his comments after I take him there.

                                              2. re: magic

                                                magic, I truly appreciate your description
                                                "Fusion of Montreal Style and Southern."
                                                I never comprehend the "smoky" equated with Jewish Style Deli.

                                                1. re: erly

                                                  That's actually a pretty good description. On my first visit, I described Caplanski's brisket as something that looked like deli but tasted like southern barbecue. Damn well the best tasting barbecue I've had in Toronto (other than my own, of course).

                                                  It has evolved and I'd now describe it as deli. You can taste the cure, which southern barbecue doesn't have. The smoky overtones are unique. Fusion, of course :-)

                                                  1. re: embee

                                                    Hmm, well I haven't been for about 5 weeks so it is interesting to hear that the meat has evolved into something more like deli. Are there still tones of southern smoke??

                                                    Either way, it is wonderful to hear that Caplansky's is a work in progress and is evolving. Just as I’m sure Schwartz’s’ did in its first couple of months out of the gate. 200 years ago :) Three cheers!

                                                    1. re: magic

                                                      Yes, the smoke is still there. It's less bold than originally and the deli cure is stronger. Seriously, deli-barbecue fusion is a good description, though that's not really the objective. But whats wrong with a new approach?

                                                      1. re: embee

                                                        Well, deli-bbq fusion is pretty much your description!! I remembered your summary of it when you first posted on it months ago. I had it it mind when I first went. After one bite, I instantly agreed with you. It was a spot-on comment on your part.

                                                        There's nothing wrong with a new approach. The food is unique, delicious, evolving, and made with love. I'll support that, any day. Can’t wait to get back. It's been awhile for me...

                                                      2. re: magic

                                                        Schwartz' has only been in business 80 years.

                                                          1. re: jayt90

                                                            BTW, you probably don't know, that Schwartz's is taking over the space next door(it might already be open). It will be strictly be a Schwartz's take-out area, & they will be adding more menu items.

                                            2. re: embee

                                              I was about to ask the same question about hand vs machine cutting. I`m pretty new to deli meat sandwiches and just learning what I like and dislike. In the last month, on two different occasions, I had a corned beef and a pastrami sandwich from Pancers. No special instructions when ordering except hot mustard. They were ok, but not a life-changing experience. I did slightly gag swallowing a tough chunk of something in one sandwich that I don`t really want to know about.
                                              I live very close to Wolfie`s so I can often find it open. I had their smoked meat sandwich yesterday and found it superior to the Pancer products, tastier and more tender. It was machine cut, which I will change for my next order now that I know why. Wolfie`s hot mustard was more to my liking than Pancer`s, a little less bitter. The sandwich meat was held together with 2 slices of rye rather than 1 and cost under $7.
                                              In a blind taste test I`d still have trouble identifying between corned beef, pastrami, and smoked meat. I guess I`ll just have to keep eating more of them to educate my mouth, nose, and eyes.
                                              The information in this thread has been really helpful and informative.

                                              1. re: torontovore

                                                Torontovore, on a recent trip to LA, I went to Langers (which by the way is possibly the best deli sandwich I've had) and a few of the local hounds had some stuff to say about Montreal smoked meat, etc. and posted this link. If you want to know more (not necessarily about hand vs. machine cut) this links made me realize how little I know about the topic.


                                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                                  I'd been hearing about Langer's for years. When I went there, which was about twenty years ago, my expectations were so high that I was bound to be disappointed. Langer's pastrami tasted so unlike what I was expecting that I was kind of shocked. They definitely have their own style - not New York; not Montreal.

                                                  I don't know whether they cure their own meat, but, in hindsight, they did serve a very fine sandwich. They sure knew how to steam the meat and their bread was really very special.

                                                  At the time of our visit, I was advised to call in advance and they would bring the order to your car. This turned out to be about safety rather than service. We wanted to eat there, and so we went for dinner. It was quite deserted, with mainly apparent regulars hanging around to kibbitz rather than eat. When we left, we were escorted to the car in their brightly lighted, security monitored lot across the street. Quite a scary experience (and I'm originally from New York).

                                                  They are no longer even open after dark, though I understand people come by subway from downtown LA for lunch. The owner recently died (at ninety something). I wonder whether they will continue over the long term.

                                                  1. re: embee

                                                    Langer's was definitely an experience. I asked for handcut and they said that's the only way they do it. And the slices were thicker than anything i've ever had in Toronto. I understand the son has taken over, and has been running the place for a while. I saw him behind the counter. Oh, and I went during the lunch hour, and it was pretty hectic. I can imagine that area getting pretty sketchy at night.

                                                    I'm still in my early days of detecting the subtleties between deli sandwiches (although I know what a bad one tastes like). Frankly, it's been too long since my last Schwartz's experience to recall what makes it different from Langer's or Katz's. All I remember is that they tasted damn good. Caplansky's, though, is pretty easy to detect what makes it different. The smoke is a dominant, yet subtle, flavour.

                                                    Based on all the discussion so far, I don't know if it's worth my time to check out any of the other places mentioned on this board (e.g. Center St. Pancers). They're not conveniently located for me. Not only is Caplansky's convenient enough, it's a quality sandwich, made in-house and the beer at the Monarch is cheap.

                                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                                      The only reason to check out the other places is if you have an intellectual interest in the food and want to learn about and understand the differences. You don't need to do that if you're just looking for a convenient place to get a sandwich that tastes good. Stick with Caplansky's for that.

                                                      For example, the differences between the full industrial cure at Centre St, vs the hybrid cure at Katz's (Toronto), vs the artisanal cure at Caplansky's are interesting, as are the differences you'll observe between hand and machine cutting (at Centre St you can get it either way).

                                                      You can learn other things as well. Mel's has its fans. If you eat a freshly cut sandwich there, after you have tried other, better, places, the differences are fairly evident. If you take some cut slices home, put them in the fridge, and then check them out in a few days, you may be surprised at the look, taste, smell, and chew of the meat.

                                                      Schwartz and Katz's (I assume you mean NY) use different cuts of beef (NY pastrami isn't brisket). The flavourings are different (there's a classic NY pastrami taste that I've never encountered in Canada). Schwartz has noticeable smoke, though less than Caplansky, and strong spicing. Katz's is more peppery than smoky. Schwartz is a dry cure. I'm not sure whether Katz's is dry or brine.

                                                      I've only eaten at Langer's once, and the food memory is hazy compared to the nighttime neighbourhood recollections, but I recall a sweetness. I could be wrong. They also did something to their bread.

                                                      1. re: embee

                                                        Langer's in L.A. is, I recall, a wildly entertaining experience. I imagine it's a little like going to tea on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Because Langer's is in a very rough neighborhood, you get a security guard to - and sometimes from - its parking lot about a block from the resto, as others on this thread have testified. The smoked meat sandwich is very, very good, second only to Schwartz's, in my view. But I don't think I'd go back unless I could bring at least four armed personal bodyguards with me. A lone security guard isn't nearly enough protection.

                                                        Like embee, I suspect the U.S. uses a slightly different cut of meat - not brisket, but mighty close to it - for its deli sandwiches than we do in Canada, Though I - unlike embee,who is clearly a Ph.D scholar on all things related to deli - find the flavorings are pretty much the same.

                                                        Caplansky's is unquestionably the class of the city in deli at the moment. Wish I lived closer to its location. But unless I'm within striking distance of College and Clinton, I'll have to make do with the near-to-me Pancer's, and the somewhat distant Centre Street Deli, which are respectable enough, so long as the meat doesn't spend too much time on the steam table (that's why it's usually better to visit a deli during the busy lunch hours, when there's lot of meat-slicing action). No other Toronto delis seem worthy of consideration.

                                                        1. re: embee

                                                          I thought NY pastrami can be brisket? Would you know Katz's NY pastrami meat supplier(they don't make their own pastrami)?

                                                          1. re: BLM

                                                            Pastrami isn't a cut of meat, it's a process. There is pastrami ham and pastrami salmon. You'll find pastramis made from brisket, from round, and from several cuts of shoulder.

                                                            Traditionally, NY pastrami was made from a cut called, variously, navel, pupick (Yiddish for navel), and plate. This comes from the same general vicinity as the brisket, but is much smaller. Some people consider it juicier but, really, it is simply easier to handle. Plate has some resemblance to the cut used for bacon. The fattiest end is often cured like bacon and sold (sliced) as "beef fry". I've never seen fresh plate at a Toronto butcher - even at kosher places.

                                                            The boundaries between different processing forms have blurred over time.

                                                            The traditional Montreal smoked meat was dry cured with spices, smoked, and steamed brisket. Some makers would bake it between smoking and steaming.

                                                            The traditional NY pastrami was brine cured, spiced, smoked, and steamed plate.

                                                            The exemplars - Schwartz and Katz's - serve quite different products that end up having similar eating qualities. Schwartz smoked meat tastes more like Katz's pastrami than Lester's smoked meat.

                                                            When I left New York forty odd years ago, all Jewish deli, even from major processors, was cured naturally - even when on a mega scale.

                                                            By that time, Montreal smoked meat served at places like Ben's and Dunn's was already being cured by chemical injection. Note that the injection process itself isn't the main problem. The issue is "what" is being injected.

                                                            When meat is processed using a rapid cure chemical injection process, phosphates, and artificial smoke, the type of meat doesn't matter very much. In a blind tasting, you'd be hard pressed to differentiate brisket, plate, round, or even ham. It tastes only of its additives. Textures can differ somewhat, but some cures even mask these differences. I think of it as generic processed sliced meat.

                                                            I don't know who processes Katz's pastramis. I haven't been to New York in a while. In the past, their pastramis looked and tasted different from those served anywhere else. Reputedly their franks come from the same company that makes Sabrett (the "dirty water" street dogs). I haven't verified this either.

                                                            1. re: embee

                                                              So these comments don't get shifted away to another board by the administrators, you should end with a Toronto-specific comment.

                                                              Caplansky's in in the Monarch Tavern. It's great.

                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                You lived in Montreal? When you lived in Montreal, they were many eating establishments making their own dry-cured smoked meat?

                                                                1. re: BLM

                                                                  1967-1970. No, by that time most of it was industrial already. Coorsh was the major industrial brand. Ben's, Dunn's, and Lester's on Bernard were all serving crap.

                                                                  Schwartz and Brown Derby made their own. I can't recall whether Snowdon, Gourmet's, Ben Ash, Delly Boy's, Cote St Luc, or any other major player at that time did so.

                                                                  1. re: embee

                                                                    Did you say Caplansky's changed meat suppliers? I had another tonight and it was noticeably tougher. Still good, but well below the previous versions I've enjoyed. And saltiness overpowered the smoke.

                                                                    I guess when it's made in small batches, consistency is a challenge.

                                                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                      Hi, I found the same thing as you. I first tried the fatty sandwich in early July and it was fantastic, a reasonable enough facsimile of the Schwartz sandwich to tide the cravings and keep me very happy (the spicing was too mild at the time though).

                                                                      I returned last week, and although the flavour had improved, the meat came with a thicker slice and yes, noticeably tougher. This is concerning if it remains in this style. It did not approach the heights of the initial sandwich.

                                                                      I also did not care for the house mustard - actually found it bitter and altered the taste of the meat unfavourably. That is a small matter, however. The soup was pretty good, but I'd stick with the superb fries.

                                                                      All the same, I should add that there are even occasional inconsistencies at Schwartz's itself - ranging from the glorious to the merely very good - particularly if you do not order it fatty.

                                                                    2. re: embee

                                                                      Was the Levitt's deli on St-Lawrence blvd still around then? Was their smoked meat at their deli any good I'm curious? At some point, they shut down their deli, & focused on the commercial meat business(including producing their commercial smoked meat).

                                                                      1. re: BLM

                                                                        I don't remember an actual Levitt's deli. Levitt's was the major industrial producer of kosher deli products. I've been told Levitt's got better with time but, at that time, their products were disgusting.

                                                                        The built an enormous plant a few years ago that quickly bankrupted them.

                                                                        1. re: embee

                                                                          Levitt's products have been revived, by the DMS Foods out of Vaughan, Ontario. Check this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/346910

                                                                          1. re: BLM

                                                                            It's actually "DSM". It isn't the same, or a related company and it doesn't come from that big new plant in Montreal. I don't really know who or what it is and I haven't seen it in Toronto. A few years ago, the MK issued a warning that it no longer considered Levitt's products to be kosher.

                                                                            I'll have to check out this DSM operation when I have a chance. If you happen to work in the mental health field, you might find that company name morbidly funny. (Google DSM if you don't understand the reference.)

                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                              You might also want to check out this thread in Montreal section

                                                                  2. re: embee

                                                                    IYO, does regular Montreal smoked meat taste similiar to NY pastrami? There're a couple of Montreal smoked meat establishments that sometimes call their regular smoked meat 'pastrami(for instance when they advertise in publications aimed at Americans).'

                                                                    1. re: BLM

                                                                      In short, no. However, comparing these two types of meat is really not unreasonable.

                                                                      1. re: embee

                                                                        I find at the Snowdon Deli, their regular smoked meat & corned beef taste very similiar(I like them both BTW, although I usually order Snowdon Deli's old fashioned smoked meat).

                                                                        1. re: BLM

                                                                          No difference between smoked meat (cured, smoked, and steamed) and corned beef (brined and steamed or simmered)? Could Snowdon be aiming at blandishment?

                                                      2. re: embee

                                                        Would a poorly hand-cut sandwich be better than a regular machine-cut one. Hand-cutting would appears to be a skill acquired only after making many mistakes over time. How many experts are there, and in which deli`s could you find them.

                                                        1. re: torontovore

                                                          "Poor" seems self defining to me. Machine cutting is more reliable and thin slices are inherently tender. Hand cutting is a real skill.

                                                          1. re: embee

                                                            I have really enjoyed this thread having wandered through most of these places through the years. Pancers was my go to place for a short time in the mid-eighties, then Wolfies during high school (I went to Mackenzie a few blocks away). When Centre st opened up, it took over for me....and then I married a Montrealer and we go threre every three months or so - usually hitting Schwartz's & Snowden del and if time permits even Willensky's for a special (topic for another thread). Now I live in the west end and would love to hear more expert opinons about the two places on dundas west of 427. I must admit, I have almost given up on the deli experience in Toronto....but my curiosity is piqued.

                                                    2. I finally made it to Caplansky's today for a late lunch (3:00 or so). I had the combo - soup, slaw, sandwich and pickle.

                                                      The soup was the cabbage borscht, and if they never change it, that's fine with me. This was very fine soup - a tasty tomato broth loaded with shredded cabbage, and surprise - bits and pieces of the smoked meat were dotted throughout. Not only did it taste great, when they said it was a "bowl" of soup, they mean a "bowl". It wasn't quite as big as your standard pho, but it was a darn sight bigger than the miniscule cups I've gotten at other places. Forget the fries - I'll get this soup every time.

                                                      The slaw was OK; I wonder if I'd gotten a freshly made batch that hadn't marinated much. If it had been just a bit more vinegary, I would have like it better, but it wasn't bad by any means.

                                                      Now, the sandwich. First, I just got the regular size, and truth be told, I couldn't have eaten a larger one along with the soup and slaw. Some day I might order the big sandwich just to see what it's like, but the regular size was more than enough.

                                                      I'm not going to get into a holy war discussion re: Schwartz's (where, last year, I had a sandwich that was dry, tough, and nearly tasteless); all I'm going to say is Caplansky's makes an excellent sandwich. The meat was moist, tender, and succulent, with a unique taste that I thoroughly enjoyed. And, while a tray of standard yellow, brown, and hot mustards had been placed on the table, the young man doing the cutting suggested the special house mustard, which was a very grainy, and sharp without being aggressive, condiment. Ask for it!

                                                      Total damage with tax and tip was $14. Someone might mention to the young lady who was minding the tables that spending a bit more time with the customers, and a little less on her laptop might be to her financial advantage.

                                                      Unfortunately, the ambiance at the Monarch isn't really conducive to bringing my young daughters there, but there's always take-out. A couple of sandwiches from Caplansky's, and a veal and a meatball from San Francesco next door - now there's a picnic!

                                                      1. Thanks to montrealer70 and embee for an informative discussion on smoked meat.

                                                        Embee, can you give me your opinion on the Dunn's meat you have tried from Costco. I saw it the other week and wondered what the quality was like.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Paolo

                                                          We pick up a box of Dunn's from Costco about once a month. No frozen product is ever going to beat fresh, but this isn't bad. It only takes about 90 seconds to heat up, and it makes an OK sandwich on its own. However, I prefer to make my own Reubens with it, and it makes a very good one.

                                                          The meat is flavourful, tender, and juicy. It's clearly machine sliced, but what are you gonna do? I will say this is better than 90% of the "smoked meat", "corned beef", or "pastrami" offered at various spots around the city. And, at the price, it's a pretty good deal.

                                                          1. re: KevinB

                                                            The Dunn's box is fresh, sold alongside sandwich meats.
                                                            If the warehouse ever brings back shrink wrapped Dunn's briskets, they are worth getting, have a fatty strip, and are good steamed and thick sliced.
                                                            They have another meat not worth getting: Kirkland sliced pastrami, made from the round cut.

                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                              Please tell me what Costco sells "fresh" Dunn's; I'll be there in a heartbeat. We have purchased frozen from Richmond Hill, Markham, and Vaughn locations, and we have never seen "fresh". Please provide more details.

                                                              1. re: KevinB

                                                                Ajax and Scarboro, in a refrigerated box.

                                                        2. I went to Caplansky's Yesterday, I was going nuts thinking about how I had to try it. I read through all of the posts about Caplansky's here on Chow before writing my opinions. There is a lot to cover. I could probably write a novel covering every topic, with chapter headings etc... however, I'll try to make it as concise as possible while getting my points made. There are positives and negatives, so please go through each heading and decide whether it's up your alley or not.

                                                          1) PARKING AND AREA

                                                          I found my way to Little Italy, an area I've been to, but not 100% familiar with, and pulled up to the Monarch. There was no nearby parking anywhere (other than illegally). I circled the block at least 4 times trying to avoid having to pay parking at the green P which would be a 5-10 minute walk to the Monarch. We intended on dining-in, however, frustration led me to go to plan B - my wife circling the block while I went in to get take-out.

                                                          The experience was reminiscent of many of my trips to Schwartz. It's hard to park on St. Laurent Street in Montreal as well, and all of the surrounding blocks have residential parking only. In Montreal, when I can't find a parking spot within a 5 minute walk, I pull in to a blatently illegal spot, run in to get my sandwiches and run out. In a way, that's the way it's supposed to be. There's an expression that I use "If it's easy to find a spot, the place isn't worth going to". I swore a number of times trying to negotiate double-parked cars and trying to fit into spots half the length of our car - I felt like was definitely going to the right place !!! The surrounding trattorias and old-fashioned architecture also remind me of being in Montreal, so I definitely love the location.

                                                          2) THE MONARCH

                                                          I made my way up the creaky black stairs of the Monarch with my fingers crossed. The impression that I had of the Monarch based on posts was way off. The posts led me to believe that it was a medium sized, modern tavern with a disgruntled owner/bartender who gives the evil eye to those who don't purchase his beer, and who come only for a sandwich from the guy in the corner selling sandwiches like it's a lemonade stand. Completely Wrong !! It's a small old-fashioned upstairs tavern in a 100-year-old house (which I found really cool) and I felt that it was appropriate for an old-fashioned deli man to set up shop. I felt like I was transported back to the '20's. Perfect start. Most tables had people eating the deli basket (Zane serves the combo in a basket a-la TGIF) and one trio of people ate their panzerotti while chugging beer. Based on the atmosphere, I would have no problem having a seat and ordering sandwiches and a Cott's. If I was in the mood I would order a draft, but would feel no pressure whatsover to drink. My impression was more like "old fashioned restaurant that serves Monarch beer". Zane had the run of the place and the sandwiches were flying out of the kitchen.

                                                          3) MY ORDER

                                                          I took a look at the brisket before ordering. It looked leaner than I thought it should, but the agony that I went through to get to that point led me to ordering two fressers, a regular sandwich for my wife, large fry, diet Vernor's and Cott's Black Cherry. It took a few minutes to get my order and I was eventually handed seemingly a 10-pound brown bag full of delicasies. I ran out of the place, my wife picked me up and we bolted to find a parking spot a mile north of College on Clinton.

                                                          4) THE FOOD - FIRST IMPRESSIONS

                                                          I opened the wrapper on my first Fresser and bit in to it with little expectations. I took my first bite - PHENOMENAL. I believe my first words were "Good G-d". I continued eating the sandwich while intermittently grabbing at the fresh-cut fries and taking breathing breaks from the sandwich to down some Black Cherry along the way. I was thinking "leaps and bounds better than any deli sandwich in Toronto". My Torontonian wife then asked me "how does this sandwich compare to Wolfies?" I replied (while taking the last bites of Fresser # 1) "Next to this sandwich, the Wolfies sandwich is like something you find under your shoe".

                                                          Honestly, this is what she heard "COMPAR- (*( *87 WOLFY ^%^% )*&- SHOE". I had to repeat myself because I certainly wasn't taking time from my Fresser to breathe and speak clearly. Another very good sign.

                                                          3) THE SANDWICH

                                                          I went into this place with the specific mindset that I wasn't going to compare the sandwich to anything and I'm going to have absolutely no expectations. Just to help me describe the sandwich, I will use comparisons to Schwartz:

                                                          The Sandwich had beautiful appearance - looked like an old-fashioned from Schwartz. The texture was incredible. The meat was hearty, it was cut masterfully and had perfect flaking - Very similar to Schwartz. The tenderness was 100%. I bit through the peak of the Fresser and though to myself "there's no way I'm going to be able to chew through all of this meat without hitting a road-block". I was wrong. I chewed through the piled-high Fresser like a hot knife through butter. I was Very impressed with how tender it was. That's where the similarities with Schwartz ends. Now to the taste. The meat had a "strong" sweet-hickory-smoke flavour. It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the sandwich, however, it was something new to my palate when associated with Smoked Meat. I though to myself "This is something I'll have to get used to". The meat had some peppercorn spicing, however, it had about 1/3 of the amount of spice that you would get at Schwartz. The meat also is dryer than Schwartz - the appearance of a lean brisket was evident in the sandwich, however, I did ask for some fat in the sandwich and it made up for the lean meat. I will say that while the Schwartz' sandwich oozes with delicious grease that actually drips down my chin while I eat my sandwich, the Caplansky sandwich does no such thing. The meat is not by any means "too dry", however, it isn't "dripping with grease" either. Fresser #1 - PHENOMENAL.

                                                          4) THE FRIES:

                                                          Fresh-cut is almost non-existent in Toronto. This guy has them. They were greasy, crispy and tasted amazing. They also had an appropriate amount of salt. I received a large "bread-crumb paper goblet" filled with delicious "old-fashioned Harvey's" tasting fries for $4 - appropriately priced. I have one complaint. The goblet had a large proportion of short fries - you know, the little chips of fries that you would eat at the bottom of the fry container - except, the fry crumbs and short ones were spread evenly throughout the goblet. I think they should be separated from the full-length fries and tossed before serving.

                                                          5) FRESSER #2

                                                          I was so impressed with my First Fresser, I unwrapped the second Fresser and dove in. After a few bites, honestly, the sweet hickory smoke was getting to me. I started to feel like I was eating a Smoked Meat sandwich too close to a campfire and I was inhaling the smoke while I was eating. Each subsequent bite made me feel like I should leave the vicinity of the campfire and take a few deep breaths to clear my lungs. Too much smoke flavour. It became overpowering. I couldn't continue eating the Fresser and I bagged the second half to bring home.

                                                          6) FINAL ANALYSIS

                                                          I really think something has to be done with the smoky flavour. I saw a number of documentaries on smoking meats and I know that each type of wood that is used throws a different flavouring on to the meat. Perhaps there is a type of wood that gives off "no aroma" and "no aftertaste" as opposed to "strong sweet hickory". In addition or in the alternative, perhaps there is a way to decrease the INTENSITY of the smoke in the meat. If it is possible, I would call the sandwich "perfect".

                                                          I will definitely be back. Now that I know what to expect, I will park 15 minutes away if I have to and dine-in. I'm simply going to limit myself to one Fresser along with my fries, Cott's and cole-slaw - after all, that's probably my fair share of calories anyway.

                                                          If this sandwich had less intensity of smoke, I would buy stock in Caplansky's because the man would have a goldmine that would probably lead to being an institution in Toronto. As it stands, and if this is the final product, I will be a regular. The Caplansky sandwich is already Leaps and bounds above any Deli sandwich in Toronto. I wouldn't call it "Toronto Montreal Smoked Meat" and I wouldn't call it "Montreal Smoked Meat". It's an "Old-fashioned Brisket sandwich" that I call a Caplansky Special.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: montrealer70

                                                            The parking is something that drives me to tears.

                                                            You love the area? I f***king hate it!

                                                            The atmosphere.. I didn't care for it, and I _DID_ feel obligated to buy a beer, because the bartender kept eyeing me like a hawk and the moment I sat down asked me "So what can I get ya?".. I caved in and bought a pint of Moosehead, which was flat.. But whatever, no big deal I guess.

                                                            The sandwich I had was NOT fatty, but medium, and I thought it was pretty tasty... Maybe a bit on the small side, but I think he sells the sandwiches in two sizes.

                                                            Cole slaw was way too oniony for my tastes but I guess who really cares about that.

                                                            Fries were unbelivably good+salty. Just waiting on his poutine now.

                                                            I think I may go back today and try the smoked turkey this time as well..

                                                            I just am trying to figure out if he's selling the meat seperately yet, so I can go home and make tasty sandwiches later on in the night

                                                            Oh, and does anyone know the "official" hours? I don't want to waste my time


                                                            Nice review, thanks for the read :)

                                                            1. re: duckdown

                                                              Official hours are "noonish" to 9:00, Tues-Sat. If you're very early or very late, you should call first.

                                                            2. re: montrealer70

                                                              Any man who can eat even one Fresser gets my respect. I had his combo with the normal sized sandwich and I could barely waddle out of there.

                                                              The bartender did kind of home in on me too. I thought it was understandable since selling beer is their main business model as a tavern. But I've bought a soda or tonic water in similar situations and I would do it again. :) I had a non-flat Steam Whistle which complimented the sandwich nicely.

                                                              The Monarch really does feel like it's from another era. I am sorry I didn't know about it before, but now I can make up for lost time.

                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                I had hoped you would see the light :-)

                                                                I'll repeat my constant suggestion - tell him what you think. He has changed methods, recipes, and suppliers to improve the product.

                                                                I made many suggestions along the way, but I stopped when I realized that, on balance, what I didn't like had become a matter of personal taste as opposed to there still being actual defects in the product.

                                                                I'd like to see much more spice, but I seem to be in a minority. The hickory is what adds uniqueness - the deli/barbecue fusion idea.

                                                                It is possible that the meat in your second sandwich was more exposed to the smoke than the first, but equally possible that 20 oz of smoked brisket was too much - even for you...

                                                                The only wood that almost always makes meat uncomfortably smoky and bitter is mesquite. I use a mixture off oak and hickory for my BBQ brisket, oak and cedar shavings for pastrami, and hickory with a little oak for beef ribs. I use apple and alder for chicken and some fish. I have experimented with grape cuttings, maple, pecan, oak wine barrel chips, and dried corncobs.

                                                              2. A few retrospective comments:

                                                                About the Parking and area: For me, the Caplansky Special is a true delicasy. Something that Torontonians waited for and haven't had until 2008. It has to be appreciated. For a change, we have something here that speaks to 'the way it was'. The passion that Zane has for his product is enough for me to be a regular.

                                                                My future visits to Caplansky's will entail an afternoon or evening visit to little Italy that surrounds having his sandwich. Look at it from that perspective. Going to Caplansky's should be an experience of slowing down the pace and enjoying life - contrary to the modern Tim Horton's drive thru city that Toronto has become. For me, it's a breath of fresh air. There's no-where else that I could think of that would suit his kitchen better than where he is currently. Do we really want Toronto's next icon to be in the suburbs? Or should we celebrate the little block of European flair that we have in this city? I've been looking for that experience since I moved to Toronto. That's the way it is in Montreal. If you want something special, you have to go out of your way.

                                                                As for the pressure to order beer at the Monarch: In retrospect, I did represent myself as a take-out customer. If I sat down with family and friends, I would probably feel a little heat to order a beer. It's not really the end of the world, and the experience could change to Caplansky Specials and drafts. If you're adamantly against ordering beer and you don't want the pressure, get the sandwiches to go. It will still keep the place alive. I don't think it's a real problem if we order our Cott's anyway.

                                                                As for the smoke in the meat, my main concern about the sweet hickory smoked flavour is that I am concerned that it will turn-off some patrons who are looking for a duplication of Schwartz. The last thing that I want is for Zane to close his doors. I'm 99% confident that I could get used to the sweet hickory smoke and even grow to appreciate it. Being old fashioned, I have to take mini-steps for change. I do agree with you embee that the brisket could be pepper-corned twice as much as the current recipe. Like I said in my original review, if nothing changed with the current sandwich, I would still be a regular. I will have a discussion with Zane the next time I go. For my first visit, I tried my best to blend in and be an average Joe customer to see how things work.

                                                                I have a theory about what happened to my second sandwich, and until I go back to Caplansky's, I can't confirm it. I will post the results of my investigation.

                                                                I do have to go back there to try the slaw and maybe the soup, feel the dine-in experience and get used to the sweet hickory smoke. I will post a second review upon my return.

                                                                30 Replies
                                                                1. re: montrealer70

                                                                  Ok, Problem solved. I took apart the second half of the Fresser that I took home for an analysis. I took out one slice of meat at a time and tasted the meat (cold from the fridge). The meat was delicious. I noticed the top slice of bread had a tremendous amount of seeds on it and upon further investigation, realized that it was Caplansky's own hot-mustard (I thought it was light colored peppercorns that fell off the meat). I smelt it and tasted some seeds. It was the Caplansky Mustard that was pungent in the sandwich, not the smoke in the meat. For some reason, he slipped his hot mustard on my second sandwich (which I was told was his 'default' sandwich if you don't specify yellow mustard).

                                                                  Now to the topic of mustard on deli: I tried hot mustard on my smoked meat when I was a kid. I had a crooner at my table who told me it's not a deli sandwich unless I put hot mustard on it. No offence to my elder, but it sucked. I found that it had a very pungent taste and definitely took away from the natural flavour of the meat. For over 30 years, I have been putting yellow mustard on my deli sandwiches. Hot mustard is a component of deli that you either love or hate. I'm one who hates it. If you love hot mustard, you'll probably love Caplansky's own mustard seed/horseradish house mustard. For me, it ruined my sandwich. No wonder I couldn't eat it. I hadn't had hot mustard in over 30 years and didn't recognize the taste. If you like wasabi flavour on your meat, go for it. If you want to taste the meat, ask for yellow mustard or you'll get burnt.

                                                                  Problem solved.

                                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                                    I don't generally eat mustard as I don't like the taste of it. I occasionally will have honey mustard on a hotdog as one of two (the other gets BBQ sauce) and sometimes though even more infrequently will order a burger with mustard and onions. That being said, I quite like the hot mustard on Caplansky's lovely sandwich and don't find it overpowering at all. I also really like the smokiness of the sandwich and would hate to see that diminished . I'd like to see an Schwartz inspired sandwich rather than a replicated one and have it be unique to Toronto like what Schwartz's is to Montreal.

                                                                    This is likely sacrilege I know so please be kind. I've only been to Schwartz's once several years ago and perhaps my opinion is tainted by the 30 minute wait out in the rain starting at 2:45pm (?!?!?!) but I was slightly underwhelmed by the time I finally got my hands on the sandwich. Zane's sandwich has left a bigger impression on me than what Schwartz's did.

                                                                    1. re: lister

                                                                      If you go to Schwartz's you got to order it medium-fat, otherwise you are not getting it at its best. There're some people in Montreal who think Schwartz's is over-rated(I could think of a certain Montreal restaurant critic, who thinks so).

                                                                      1. re: lister

                                                                        I completely agree that Caplansky's does not have to repilicate the meat at Schwartz. Also, as I pondered and analyzed the sandwich, I realized that it was not the smoke that was getting to me, rather it was the strong mustard that Zane slipped on to my sandwich. I wasn't prepared for it and I thought the burn that was going through my nose was from the meat. I formally retract my statement that Zane should take the hickory out of the meat.

                                                                        The type of mustard that one uses is a personal preference and although hot mustard is not for me, I certainly respect and understand those who use it. Like I said, after 5 or 10 Caplansky Specials, I will probably crave the hickory - who knows !!!!

                                                                        Also, one trick for non-Montrealers who go to Schwartz: If there is a line-up down the street, bud yourself right past the line and repeat "excuse me...excuse me" until you get in the place, right up to the counter and get your sandwiches to go. They may be brash and cocky at Schwartz, but they don't follow the rules of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. I'm sure you would have preferred your sandwich if you knew the Montrealer insider trick. On a last note, try to avoid going to Schwartz between 11 and 2 during the week, it's mayhem.

                                                                        1. re: montrealer70

                                                                          Disgusting line tactic. It would never work in Toronto.

                                                                          1. re: jayt90

                                                                            Not as bad as it sounds. The lineups are usually for eating in. If you really are taking out, it's fair game. Back when Marche in BCE place was really hot, the same tactic was both necessary and fair.

                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                              Honestly, it's not really budding in line. The line-up is for dining-in only. Tourists wouldn't know that, so I shared my tip. It's completely kosher to waltz right in to get take-out - that's the way it works.

                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                Huh? The line on the left is for dine-in, and the line on the right is for take-out.

                                                                                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                                                                  Soon it won't matter. They're taking over the space next door, that will be used for people who want take out from Schwartz's. I expect it to be open in a month or two.

                                                                          2. re: montrealer70

                                                                            We knew about take-out being a separate line. That was easy to spot. We didn't want to do take-out as it was raining and we had no other dry place to eat. I presume taking the sandwiches into a place like Dieu du Ciel, our destination after Schwartz's, would be frowned upon. DDC opens at 3pm which is why we were killing time at Schwartz's. Turned out to take much more time than we anticipated even on a Friday afternoon after 2pm!

                                                                            I can't remember whether the sandwich there was medium-fat or not, I went with whatever default the server said when I ordered.

                                                                            Anyways, I'm looking forward to trying Caplansky's smoked turkey sometime. Perhaps instead of two smoked meat sandwiches, I'll order the turkey as my second sandwich.

                                                                            1. re: lister

                                                                              My wife had the smoked turkey and enjoyed it. I had a bit, it was a bit dry (maybe emphasized since I was eating a fatty smoked meat), but nice smoke flavour. Last time I was there, some guy was eating one, and it looked like the meat was cut a bit thinner and it looked pertty moist.

                                                                              1. re: lister

                                                                                The default at Schwartz's I'm guessing is medium(it's never medium-fat).

                                                                                1. re: lister

                                                                                  In my day, there was no outdoor line for take-out, just people hovering over the counter inside. Upon my return trips to Montreal, I avoided any rush times and walked straight in, so I haven't experienced the mob in about 15 years. The new take-out store next door is news to me, so that solves everyones problems.

                                                                            2. re: montrealer70

                                                                              Your description of your search for the perfect Montreal smoked meat sandwich in Toronto is fascinating. Have you ever considred the possibility of using this experience as the subject for a PH. D. thesis? Imagine: you could end up as a Doctor of Smoked Meats. I'm sure your mother and wife would kvell and schep nachas.
                                                                              I would like to benefit from your diligence and scientific research but I am faced with a seemingly insurmounable problem. I eat only strictly kosher. I wonder if, as a sub-section of your research, you could determine the best KOSHER Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich in Toronto. A daunting challenge, I admit, but I hope and trust that you are equal to the task.

                                                                              P.S. What does the "70" in your name refer to? your age? or what year you left Montreal? or something else? Thanks. Doctormhl1

                                                                              1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                Doc, I appreciate your comments, they mean a lot to me. To answer your question: Yes, Embee and I are co-authoring a book together when we get the chance. Doctor of Smoked Meats, I love it.

                                                                                If I ever find Kosher brisket, I will definitely post my findings - although it would probably be an easier task in Montreal. Plus, hopefully, Embee will weigh in on the topic because he probably has more of a background on that issue.

                                                                                The 70 in my nickname is my year of birth. I was born and lived in Montreal for 25 years and moved to Toronto 13 years ago. In light of the amount of years in both cities, I easily detect the subtle differences and gargantuan differences between the cities (especially in the food). Tens of Thousands of people have visited each other's cities, however, few have the amount of years logged in each city as I have. To some crooners out there, if you feel that my 38 years is too young to be an expert, bear in mind that I was raised with a hockey stick, greasy fries and a Schwartz' sandwich - 20 years before the 'home computer' was the norm.

                                                                                In all honesty, when I get to the 25-year mark living in Toronto, I plan on writing a book on the subject. I'm sure there's a lot more for me to discover here in Toronto.

                                                                                1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                  Thanks for your reply. The only time I am fortunate enough to taste kosher smoked brisket is at a Wedding or Bar Mitzvah in an Orthodox synagogue or banquet hall that has a kosher caterer and kitchen. On occasion, at a smorgasbord prior to the ceremony, among other delightful hord'oeures, hot briskets of smoked meat are offered. They are cut by hand by a chef, and served on a plate with yellow or dijon mustard. The chef usually commits the gross sin of trimming away all visible fat (as most guests are on "diets" and are extremely cholesterol conscious, although most are overweight.) Another major mistake is that there is no rye bread available in order to make a sandwich. Brisket without rye bread is like gefilte fish without beet horseradish-somehow just doesn't seem right. The meat itself is appropriately hot, soft and tender, but a little too dry, and not highly spiced.

                                                                                  There are plenty of kosher fressers in town but aside from the above the only kosher deli's I am aware of in the TO area are Marky's in the plaza at the north-west corner of Wilson Ave. and Bathurst St. and The Miami Grill in the Sobey's Plaza on Clark Ave and Atkinson Ave. in Thornhill.

                                                                                  Perhaps you could try these out and report back with your findings and how they stack up to non-kosher smoked meats. P.S. You will, if you try them, find them extremely expensive when compared to the non-kosher variety.

                                                                                  1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                    Doc, I'm really glad that you posted in. Growing up, my best friend's house was 100% kosher and let me tell you, I stand by my opinion that generally speaking, nothing beats kosher food. The only caviat for most of us is the prohibitive cost.

                                                                                    Everything I ate at his house tasted like gourmet catered. The quality and taste of anything from the flavourful sliced cheese, hamburgers with fried onions, roast chicken, meatballs and everything had fresh sliced challah on the side - forget about it - the best.

                                                                                    Mark my words, I'm going to both of your places this week and I'm posting back. I don't know if they will be my favourite sandwiches of all time, however, I would be shocked if I wasn't impressed.

                                                                                    1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                      Doc: We went to Marky's tonight for dinner. We tried a couple of menu items to share - Large Matzoh Ball Soup, Latkas, Smoked Meat sandwich, Corned Beef sandwich.

                                                                                      The Matzoh Ball soup was the best I ever had. Greasy, very flavourful, home-made tasting broth with two firm Matzoh Balls and delicious chicken pieces scattered in the broth. They claim they have the "city's best" chicken soup and they are absolutely correct. It's better soup than I ever had at anyone's Seder. Someone's bubby was in the kitchen tonight, that's for sure !! I was blown away. At $3.49 for a two-person soup, it was a steal. I have made my own chicken soup at home, it's one of the best. It takes me half a day, at a cost of around $30 and their soup is better than mine. I'll be taking out their soup for years to come.

                                                                                      The Latkas were greasy, freshly made and crispy. One of the best I've had in a restaurant (most of us have had killer Latkas at home during Channukah, so it's hard for restaurant Latkas to compete with home-made). I've never had a resaurant Latka as crispy as these were.

                                                                                      Now to the brisket. We tried the Corned Beef and the Smoked Meat sandwiches. My review is identical for both sandwiches, I'll explain the difference between them later on.

                                                                                      The meat is excellent quality and definitely prepared in a top quality manner. There was nothing blatently negative about the sandwiches. The meat was 100% wholesome and 100% tender. The sandwiches came hot and they were piled with precision. There were a couple of things missing when comparing to the non-kosher variety. First of all, along with having the blatent "good" fat completely trimmed from the brisket (as you mentioned in your post), the brisket itself had almost no marbling of fat either. This resulted in the sandwich being too dry. I would classify the meat as "extra-lean". In fact, they were probably the healthiest brisket sandwiches I ever had (a good thing in today's society, however, it defeats the purpose for treating ourselves to Smoked Meat). The other thing is that instead of old-fashioned peppercorn spicing on the meat, it tasted more "lightly pickled", the taste reminded me of the tongue that our relatives used to serve in the 70's (tongue was all the rage in Montreal in the 70's and it died out among secular Jews in the early 80's). I haven't tasted that flavour of meat in almost 30 years. The smoked meat and corned beef were prepared in the exact same manner and had almost identical taste, colour and texture with the exception that the corned beef had slightly more flavour than the smoked meat (which was quite bland).

                                                                                      Bottom line: Although it's definitely top-quality meat, their supplier completely missed the boat on the preparation of the corned beef and the smoked meat. Both were prepared like tongue (extra lean and pickled), there was too much fat removed from the brisket and it needed peppercorn seasoning. In my amateur opinion on Kashrit law, all of these specs that need changing are legal. Your comment about needing fat is spot-on. Those who keep kosher deserve better.

                                                                                      I was dissapointed Doc. Not because I wasted a meal (the soup was worth the trip) - but because a kosher restaurant should be serving better tasting food than non-kosher restaurants. Non-Jews should be flocking to kosher restaurants to savour the delicasies.

                                                                                      I hope someone somewhere in the city has a solution to your dilemma because as it stands, you deserve better.

                                                                                      With the utmost repect, I'm not going to try the Miami Grill sandwich based on the sandwiches at Marky's. I will, however post up as soon as I can find a better option for you. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to enjoy a peppercorned fatty with fries.

                                                                                      I'll end this post with a positive note: I took out a large soup to go - I'm already addicted.

                                                                                      1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                        Given that I have never had anything good at Marky's, I'd call that a very successful trip :-)

                                                                                        1. re: embee

                                                                                          Embee, as far as Marky's goes, as it stands, it's a take-out soup place for me; plus I have to try the sweet and sour meatballs - a specialty of one of my late grandmothers'. Let me know if you tried them there.

                                                                                          1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                            I think you've been extremely generous in your praise of Marky's Deli. I basically agree with your description of the meat- not terrible but nothing to get excited about. You neglected to describe the ambiance and service and most importantly you didn't rate the food in relation to price. In other words how do you rate the value you received for the price you paid.?

                                                                                            My bottom line: all things considered, a gererally depressing eating experience.

                                                                                            Tell me, Montrealer70, are there any other foods besides smoked meats that interest you to the same extent, or are you only a "one trick pony"?

                                                                                            1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                              I specifically didn't get into the ambiance, service or value issues because I have my limits on bashing luntzmen. My wife also warned me to "be good". You asked so here goes: I was somewhat fooled by the photo on their website - The place looked nicely decorated, however I realized upon my visit that it was a nicely decorated "cafeteria". We got at least four stares from waitresses before getting menus. There were only 3 other parties in the place and it took about five minutes to get menus. When the waitress brought them, she threw them on the table and walked away. I was thinking maybe I would get warmer service if I was wearing tzizis, but I could be wrong. The ambiance is definitely not for me. It's a cold atmosphere. The service was a little lazy, but our waitress was nice enough in the end (for Toronto standards). Believe it or not, I thought the prices were fair. I'm used to paying almost 50% more in Toronto for deli sandwiches compared to Montreal. Bear in mind that I have paid $10 for Smoked Meat sandwiches in the past that were inedible.

                                                                                              The same can't be said for Miami Grill. I looked at the prices on their website, it looks like highway robbery. They charge $15 +tx for a smoked meat sandwich!! I've had sandwiches at Schwartz that weren't worth $16.95 !!!!

                                                                                              The large soup at Marky's was a steal at $3.49, however, when I ordered the "large bowl of soup" to go, it was the same price but less than half the portion. (I only realized that after I posted my review). We were upset that for midnight snack, we each had a "cupette" of soup for $4. The same portion of soup that we were served, for take-out, is almost $8 - for which I may not run so fast to go get.

                                                                                              Bottom line: Best Matzoh Ball soup at a fantastic dine-in price ($3.49). And that's about it. At $8 per large bowl of take-out soup, I may as well get Manischewitz at Dominion.

                                                                                              I have two other types of foods that get me going and I had to look far and wide to get here in Toronto: "Montreal style" Szechuan food and Steak Submarines (Philly's or steak sandwiches).

                                                                                              I also crave a medium, cooked to perfection Rib Steak now and again - for which Toronto does a good job, and has been discussed plenty on Chow, so no-one needs my opinion.

                                                                                              I have yet to find a decent New England Clam Chowder Soup in Toronto. And one last note for Toronto restaurants serving French Onion Soup: For heaven's sake - stop using Mozzarella cheese to top the soup. It's supposed to be a combination of Gruyere, Ementhal and fresh Parmesan.

                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                For onion soup, Jacques Bistro on Cumberland and Bibiche on Danforth. I look forward to your report.

                                                                                                There's a place on the south side of College near St George proclaiming "authentic Philly steaks". I don't know the name, but you can't miss it. I've never been there but, if it wows you, I'll follow. I'm not optimistic, but you never know.

                                                                                                For steak, get one of the "Montreal spiced" Certified Angus steaks at a Loblaw's service counter. Get one about two inches thick (on the bone), from the chuck end of the rack - NOT from the loin end. Sear it on both sides in a cast iron pan, put it into a 375 F oven, pull it when the thermometer hits 140 (for medium) and rest it for 10 minutes. Let me know what you think (it's about $8.50/lb). I was pleasantly surprised, bordering on amazed.

                                                                                                I can't help you on Montreal style Sichuan - I've never seen it here. I don't like clam chowder, so I can't help there.

                                                                                                BTW, be at Caplansky's Friday night, 7:00 - 11:00. You'll hate yourself if you miss this.

                                                                                                1. re: embee

                                                                                                  What's going on at Caplansky's on Friday night? Shabbis dinner?

                                                                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                    Official Grand Opening party. Free smoked meat and other stuff. Live music. Beer not included.

                                                                                                    1. re: embee

                                                                                                      I will be attending, w/camera!

                                                                                  2. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                    Well, you probably won't be surprised, but I've done the research. Forget a perfect kosher smoked meat sandwich.

                                                                                    We are all voicing opinions here, and mine is just one. There is no good (forget perfect) kosher smoked meat sandwich to be had in Toronto. Perhaps some caterers make it in house, but restaurants are something else again. If you want one, you'll need to get a smoker and learn make your own. It isn't difficult, but it does require time, some space, and a willingness to experiment.

                                                                                    Toronto's Jewish community, in general, seems to have lost any taste for good deli. Of those Chowhounders I know personally who have weighed in on the subject, most are not even Jewish. If you are really frum, the situation is very bad.

                                                                                    Marky's is a revolting deli. I have been there much too often to even want to think about it. It's just too depressing. They've lasted forty years and counting because, for much of that time, there have been no alternatives. Lousy food, surly service - that sums it up. They used to fuss over my mother (she was in her late eighties at the time), but the food served to her was as poor as anyone else's. When Marky's took over Greenfield's, a fine dining place, it failed quickly.

                                                                                    Miami Grill isn't a deli. It's a family restaurant more akin to the Pickle Barrel in its style. Unlike Marky's, Miami Grill serves some tasty food (though, as with much kosher food, the prices are scandalously high). I can't fault the place, but you won't find a great smoked meat sandwich.

                                                                                    Insofar as buying meat to serve at home, your choices are both limited and of poor quality.

                                                                                    James Chatto called the pastrami at Hartman's the finest he had ever eaten. I rushed up there the day after reading the article. I guess Chatto has never eaten real pastrami, since the stuff Hartman's calls pastrami, while somewhat tasty, isn't even remotely pastrami.

                                                                                    The best source of packaged kosher meat is the Clark Av Sobey's. I have tried every brand from both the service counter and from the shelves. My opinion is, almost universally, yuk! The best choices from this bad lot don't offer much.

                                                                                    Rubashkin tastes a little bit better than any Canadian brand, but I won't buy from those sleazebuckets again. Marvid, a Montreal company, is selling pastrami made by Meal Mart in New York. It's also a bit better than anything local, but take this as faint praise. I don't know, but wouldn't be surprised, if Meal Mart buys the meat they cure from Rubashkin.

                                                                                    I don't know whether Perl's will ever reopen. Some of their prepared food was tasty. However, I always found their deli meats to be poor quality, over processed, garbage.

                                                                                    I don't know whether you will eat Hebrew National. We always considered it kosher, but I know some people don't consider their hashgacha (Ralbag, Triangle K) "reliable". It is almost impossible to to find since the mad cow scare, but you should grab it if you can find an imported package sealed by the manufacturer. It is different from, and not as good as, the New York City version, but it's the best kosher product you have any chance (albeit a minuscule one) of finding. Empire National is probably the best brand available at the moment, but you have absolutely no chance of finding any here.

                                                                                    If you ever do decide to try making your own, I've heard conflicting views about whether dry cured meats can be considered kosher. A chicken can be dry cured in a day, but a brisket requires about two weeks of curing time before cooking. Brining (the most common natural method for curing New York pastrami) is much faster. Chemical injection, which takes a day, is acceptable to all kosher certifiers, but makes the worst possible product.

                                                                                    Bottom line: the "kosher style" options worth eating in Toronto are limited. The stuff at the mainstream supermarkets (injected bottom rounds, for heaven's sake) aren't worth discussing. The kosher options are very poor, indeed.

                                                                                2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                  I'm stuck in Florida. This is where a teleportation machine would be very useful. Teleport myself to Toronto and go to Caplansky and be back home in a few hours. His true genius is also serving excellent French fries and coleslaw

                                                                                  I have a friend who's been up there for the summer. I'm trying to get him to bring back a smoked meat sandwich.

                                                                                  1. re: gafferx

                                                                                    I've been to Caplansky's twice in the last 2 weeks and think the place is a gem. I love resto people who stick to their knitting and try to do a few things exceptionally well. I can also be forgiving with the inevitable inconsistencies!

                                                                                    My 2 sandwiches were quite inconsistent. The first was juicy, properly fatty, slightly crumbly on some edges and touched with a nice hint of smoke. The second, a week later, was a smoke bomb, really over the top. It also had enough connective tissue that 3 toothpicks were necessary to dislodge a second helping from my teeth! That made it the second best smoked meat sandwich I have ever had. My next visit will likely get me something between the 2, and I will be very happy.

                                                                                    The fries on my first visit were killer, but far too much medium kosher salt. I had the tomato based cabbage soup instead second time round and found it charmingly homemade with a hint of smoke from the bits of "burnt end".

                                                                                    I am not a big fan of oil/vinegar cole slaw but liked the crunch and appreciated the light hand with the vinegar.

                                                                                    Neither the soup nor the slaw is the main event, smoked meat is, and the added bonus is killer fries.

                                                                                    1. re: garlicandwingnut

                                                                                      Of course the sandwich is the main event, but that doesn't mean the soup isn't exceptionally good and worth a visit on its own. When I was a U of T student, we used to order sandwiches from SF next door, and then head up to the Monarch for drinks. A veal sandwich and a bowl of the soup would make a great mid-winter meal.

                                                                                      Personally, I'd like a little more vinegar on the slaw, but as long as they put it on the table, I can add it on my own.

                                                                                3. I wish we could get as detailed of a thread and have people put as much effort into finding a half decent poutine!

                                                                                  1. HOW TO ORDER YOUR FAT:

                                                                                    I had my umteenth Lester's sandwich today and my first discovery was that I prefer it machine cut over hand cut because 'thinly-sliced' processed Smoked Meat will automatically give you a very tender sandwich. When deli's hand-cut Lester's, they can only screw up a perfect thing. Fresh Smoked Brisket MUST be hand-cut or you won't be able to chew the meat.

                                                                                    Now to the skinny on Fat:


                                                                                    I noticed in my 'medium-fat' Lester's sandwich today that there was a piece of meat here-and-there that was hard to chew. I took out the pieces of meat that were hard to chew and analyzed them. They all had something in common: Connective fat (the long stringy fat pieces that chew like elastic bands). It's what I call "Bad Fat". The fat in Lester's briskets is approximately 40-50% bad fat. It's edible, but it's also a turn-off when your chew through the sandwich is halted by it. I'm one of the Montreal old-timers who says "you have to have fat in your Smoked Meat". At Wolfies last month, he made my sandwich with no fat. The sandwich was 100% chewable, with 0% bad-fat error (and still greasy).

                                                                                    Montrealers will say "without the fat, my sandwich will be too dry". For Lester's briskets, this statement is incorrect. The Lester's Briskets are so Greasy, that even if the cutter removes all visible signs of fat (good fat and bad fat), your sandwich will be dripping with grease. By my logic, why ask for fat on your sandwich and have 50% of it be "bad fat", when the meat is greasy as hell to begin with?

                                                                                    When Centre Street Deli opened, they sought to "educate" Torontonians by wording on their menu (don't quote me) "we hand cut here, it makes a difference" and "order yourselves a fatty sandwich, it will taste better - leave your diets at home".

                                                                                    Now folks, these statements would apply 100% if they were serving FRESH SMOKED BRISKET, like Schwartz or Caplansky (see below for ordering fat on Fresh Smoked Brisket). However, Centre street serves Lester's processed brisket. These two lessons do not apply to their meat.

                                                                                    What they are ACTUALLY saying is the following: "We hand cut our sandwiches - it's almost as perfect as machine cut, but we try not to screw it up". and "Even though our Brisket is greasy as hell, make sure to order fat on your sandwich so you can have 50% connective fat in it that you won't be able to chew".

                                                                                    I figured out that my bad experiences at Centre Street were based upon the "bad-fat" content of the sandwich. Had I just ordered my sandwiches with "no fat", they would have been freaking perfect.

                                                                                    In the processing of Lester's Brisket, most of the "good fat" (defined below) somehow gets melted into the meat and creates a very greasy meat (the way we like it). When it's steamed and ready to serve, the "bad fat" should be trimmed away as the slicer cuts your sandwich. In Montreal, half of the deli's actually take the time to cut away the bad fat, so when you order a fatty Lester's sandwich, you're getting 95%-100% good fat in your sandwich. In Toronto, I'm just happy to find Lester's at all. Cutters here aren't going to quibble over 'good fat and bad fat' - they don't have the training. I'm not complaining. I'll just order my sandwiches 'no fat'. The meat will have mounds of 'good fat' greasing up the meat.

                                                                                    When you go out for your Lester's Smoked Meat Sandwich and order it "old fashioned - No Fat", once in a while someone will look at you and say "you know, you should really get fat in it" or "it makes the sandwich taste better", or "it will be too dry", or "you don't know how to order Smoked Meat". Just smile and say "well, that's how I like it". Don't even bother trying to convince them (or direct that person to this post) - I've been eating Montreal Smoked Meat regularly for 33 years, I know what I'm talking about.

                                                                                    FRESH SMOKED BRISKET

                                                                                    If you're ordering fresh out of the smoker Brisket (Schwartz, Caplansky), you must order fat in the sandwich. The fat in fresh brisket is 95%-100% "Good Fat". I define "good fat" as the "melt-in-your-mouth" fat. It's 100% chewable and like butter, it actually melts in your mouth.

                                                                                    Without this good fat, fresh smoked Brisket would be too dry. There is no processing involved in the meat, so you need plenty of good fat to balance out the "slightly dry meat". At Caplansky's, there is much less marbling of fat in the meat than Schwartz making the meat less greasy and therefore a much greater need to order fat in your sandwich.

                                                                                    Follow these tips and you'll get a perfect sandwich every time.

                                                                                    Places that serve Lester's: Centre Street Deli, Montreal Deli, Peter's on Eglinton and Wolfie's.

                                                                                    Fresh Smoked Brisket: Caplansky's.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Dimbulb

                                                                                        It's at 2025 Dundas St. East, a one minute drive West of the 427 highway.

                                                                                      2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                        Add to the Lester's list Jody's and Corned Beef House. However, I'm more inclined to credit the evenly injected curing solution and some chemical content to the Lester's scenario. Nevertheless, good lesson.

                                                                                        Hope you're coming tomorrow.

                                                                                        1. re: embee

                                                                                          I'll be there with bells on !!!! It's a hisoric event.

                                                                                      3. Free smoked meat, you say? I should be there too :) I'll be the fat guy with the ball cap

                                                                                        I've been looking for an excuse to go back anyway, I need to bring home a pound or two of smoked meat to go

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: duckdown

                                                                                          I'll be the guy with a fake beard, sunglasses, fedora and trench coat.

                                                                                          Should be fun. I actually love the Monarch.

                                                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                                                            I think embee and montrealer70 should combine their expertise on a scholarly dissertation for some learned journal specializing in the complex mysteries of smoked meat sandwiches. Wow, was this thread ever entertaining to read! I even learned a lttle something (I think), that I can use the next time I venture into a deli - provided I can carry a paper copy of this thread with me for reference. Who knew, for example, that there was good fat and bad fat in smoked meat, and that with some forethought you can avoid the bad and enhance the good? I tend to solve the fat problem by simply ordering my sandwich medium - I ordered it thusly at Caplansky's the other afternoon, and it was delicious. So was the borscht, though I await embee's and montrealer70's final pronouncement on that. And the smoked turkey sandwich was good, too - a tad dry, but then that's the nature of turkey. Just add more honey mustard if the dryness annoys you. Caplansky graciously invited our table to his festivities tonight, but, as we both live far, far away in deepest North York, we regretfully declined, traffic nowadays being what it is. I'm sure, though, every living nosher and freeloader south of Bloor Street will be in attendance - and I'll expect a detailed review of all the fun and games (and the food, natch) on this board by tomorrow morning at the very latest.

                                                                                          2. I just want to add that I still think Peters on Eglinton is somewhere you should try

                                                                                            I think you will be hard pressed to find a bigger sandwich in the city!

                                                                                            Well, if you get the super smoked meat like me at least

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: duckdown

                                                                                              It's funny that in Montreal, we don't have 'Fressers' or 'Schnorers'. That's a new concept to me since coming to Toronto. For a few more bucks in Toronto, they put waaaaay more meat into the sandwich than you could chew, (while still calling it a sandwich). The concept is cool. In Montreal, I used to order 2 sandwiches or the small platter, which is 2.5 to 3 sandwiches worth of meat. The large platter is enough to have 2 Men with huge bellies completely stuffed (it's 4-6 sandwiches worth of meat depending on how much you want in each sandwich). In Toronto, I still debate with myself whether I should order 2 sandwiches or one fresser.

                                                                                              Call me crazy, but my Fresser at Caplansky's last week was a large sandwich, but I wouldn't call it 'overload'!! My regular sandwich at Montreal Deli had 10% more meat than my Caplansky Fresser. I assume this was due to human error. I probably got a little stiffed at Caplanskys, and got a free bonus at Montreal Deli (or they prepared a Fresser for me by mistake).

                                                                                              If the Fresser that I received last week at Caplansky's is their actual size, I determined that it's a much better value to just order two regular-sized sandwiches because my Fresser had only 20% more meat than my wife's regular-sized.

                                                                                              Either way, honestly, I'm way more concerned about enjoying my sandwich than the quantity of meat, or value. If I get an overloaded and/or a well priced sandwich, it's a bonus.

                                                                                              I'll definitely be going to Peter's, I just need some time. I may order the "Heffer" if I'm famished. I may just order their regular sandwich if I want to sample my wife's food so I could try other things.

                                                                                              p.s., How are they going to handle the mob tonight? I guess all attendants who look like Columbo are from Chowhound.

                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                So I was having my Smoked Meat Craving today, and went to Caplanksy's for lunch. First time in last 5 or 6 visits without Zane in the kitchen. Sad to say, not quite the same taste. Very fatty or BAD FAT as montrealer70 indicated. Very Chewy in certain parts. And I ordered it Medium. The flavour and spice was all there, but I think the person in the kitchen didn't know how to cut the meat properly so it was very stringy and fatty in certain parts. I hope Montrealer70 or Embee can try Caplanksy without Zane in the kitchen to understand what I mean. By no means am I a connoisseur of smoked meat, I just hope this was a fluke.

                                                                                                1. re: visualhornet

                                                                                                  I'm not surprised that it happened without Zane there. it's such an art to cut Fresh Brisket. It looks easy enough but man it takes years to cut 15 perfect slices for your sandwich. Zane needs a qualified pinch-hitter if he's not there. A bad cutter could destroy a deli. My two Fressers were 100% when they were cut by Zane - not one morsel was left in the foil wrap and I ordered them "fatty". Both sandwiches bit through like butter.

                                                                                                  Hornet, I don't need to try it without Zane in the kitchen, I've had my share of badly cut sandwiches in my life, I know EXACTLY what you mean. For me, it completely ruins the sandwich !!!

                                                                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                    I'm so happy I found this web-site. I can't remember when I've had this much fun discussing smoked meat. It's almost as much enjoyment as actually eating the meat. It's also true that the anticipation is always greater that the actual experience, isn't it? I can just picture all you mavens salivating as you study each and every word of this ongoing dialogue.

                                                                                                    Now I'd like to relate an old but true story , even though I'll be giving my age away.

                                                                                                    Back in 1963, I was completing my interneship at the New Mt. Sinai Hospital, just south of the present Mt. Sinai Hospital on University Ave.,At the end of the interneship year in July I believe, it was decided to have a baseball game between the house staff- internes and residents -and the attending staff Doctors. Following the game we were to return to the Hospital's interne lounge for schmoozing and refreshments.

                                                                                                    The internes decided on the menu and the staff doctors agreed to foot the bill.
                                                                                                    At that time, there used to be Jewish deli on Queen Street East between Jarvis and Sherbourne by the name of "Kamin's." I phoned up the deli and said I'd like to phone in a take out order. When I told the person taking the order that I wanted 140 corned beef on rye sandwiches with mustard the phone seemed to go dead. After a few seconds,the person said the only way he could fill such an order was if I came in the store and paid in advance. I forget exactly how much each sandwich cost but I think it was less than a dollar each.

                                                                                                    We collected the money, went to the deli, and paid for the sandwiches . Mr. Kamin was in a state of semi-shock. But a few days later when we came to pick up the order, each sandwich was individually wrapped in light brown butchers' paper and neatly stacked in cardboard boxes.

                                                                                                    We internes won the ball game by a lopsided score and proceeded back to the hospital for a fun-filled delicious feast. But the one who enjoyed the event the most, I'm sure, was the late Mr. Kamin.

                                                                                                    1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                      Doc, I loved your story. You share the passion, that's for sure. I would love to dive into a pile of 140 corned beef sandwiches!!

                                                                                                      After I read your story, I thought I would add one myself. It took a while to think of one that wouldn't pale in comparison to yours, so here goes:

                                                                                                      One of my uncles moved to Florida in the late 70's (as most of our relatives have done). He was addicted to Schwartz' Smoked Meat. We were going to visit him for a couple of weeks and he asked my father to bring him a SEVEN POUND whole brisket from Schwartz (uncut). My father picked up the brisket and after we were all packed up, no-one had room in our valises to fit the brisket. Everyone begged me to put it into mine. I opened my valise, took out some clothes, placed the brisket in and closed the zipper (while sitting on the valise). We got to the airport and taking my valise out of the cab, I realized that the brisket busted the freaking zipper on my valise. The whole flap on the valise was completely open. Imagine my embarrassment arriving in Miami and having to wait at the carousel for my brown valise that was being held closed with rope, and a Schwartz' brisket sticking out of it !!!

                                                                                                  2. re: visualhornet

                                                                                                    I ate my Caplansky's smoked meat sandwich without Zane in the kitchen. Maybe that's why I was unimpressed with my smoked meat sandwich. Wonder what days & hours does he work(I want to keep in mind, when I visit Toronto next time)?

                                                                                              2. Well I pulled up outside the Monarch tonight around 9:30pm, as luck had it, I couldn't find a single permanent parking spot, but there was a nice empty gap DIRECTLY outside the monarch, I mean literally the closest possible spot to the place, right in front of San Francesco.. But I noticed no parking signs everywhere so I quicky ran up the stairs and popped my head in

                                                                                                Place was pretty busy, I saw the platters of food on the table (i didn't take any) and I didn't notice any visible chow hounders or anything so I didn't stick around.. I had just eaten a pizza from that new place anyways... Besides I was by myself and didn't feel like sitting down by myself and sticking out like a sore thumb, lol

                                                                                                Next time someone should wear a chowhound t-shirt or something

                                                                                                Hopefully I didn't miss anything exciting -- like an unveiling of a montreal poutine :P

                                                                                                18 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                  Hey Duckdown, I didn't see you there. I was upstairs grabbing the open-faced sandwiches just about as fast as they were cutting them. The gourmet home-made potato salad was delicious (mini parisian potatoes, halved, and mixed with a hint of mayo, spices and herbs). I Topped off the sandwiches with a cold Moosehead - I was flying tonight. I kept looking for Chowhounders, but to no avail. I don't know what embee looks like, but I swear, seven guys looked exactly like him.

                                                                                                  We then proceeded down to the banquet downstairs, and the action kicked in. They now had two cutting stations and an extra old-timer cutting sandwiches in the back. It was like being in Smoked Meat Pergatory tonight.

                                                                                                  I didn't want Zane to completely run out of brisket based on my appetite - he had a lot of guests, so we decided not to overerstay our welcome and took off.

                                                                                                  We were still a little hungry, so while we were in the area, we shared a Chicken Parm at San Fransesco and a Pepperoni slice at Bitondo's Pizza across the street. Then we walked down the block to burn off some calories and stopped off at the "Big Chill" for a Dulce Latte flavoured gourmet Ice Cream. The cone had more calories than the walk!! Man, going to Little Italy really puts on the pounds.

                                                                                                  What the hell, I'll review the other food that I had:

                                                                                                  Chicken Parm at San Fransesca: It was really good, but call me crazy - I prefer my chicken parm from California Sandwiches. I know that this Fransesca is the "original" and people come form all corners of the city to get it (and it's really good), however, the California Sandwiches Parm is spicier and has a sh*tload more fried peppers in the sandwich. Also at California Sandwiches, there's about 25% more chicken in it. It's ironic because I hate "modern chain" restaurants and counters, but California Sandwiches is one exception to the rule for me. They definitely have the best Chicken parm I've ever had.

                                                                                                  Pizza slice at Bitondo's: It was hot right out of the oven and it was delicious. My wife and I both agreed that we enjoyed it more than we would if we ate it 15 minutes after it came out of the oven. It was "good". It didn't blow me away, however, nothing negative to speak of. My standards are really high for pizza, so that's a huge compliment.

                                                                                                  One thing about the sandwiches tonight: Every open-face had "Caplansky hot Mustard" on them. I think Zane has a real fetish with his mustard. Remember when he slipped it onto my Fresser last week? It's like the public is not allowed to put yellow mustard on his meat. He feels like it's a slap in the face to have his sandwich without his home-made hot mustard.

                                                                                                  Well, I started to get used to his mustard tonight (as if I had a choice), and it tastes 'good' with the sandwich - however, I still prefer his sandwich with yellow mustard. For me, the Smoked Meat sandwich is about the meat, not the condiments. (feel free to disagree).

                                                                                                  Did anyone notice that there was less hickory in the taste in the meat tonight?

                                                                                                  A memorable evening - Thanks for the Tip-off Embee.

                                                                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                    Oh yeah, thanks a lot (dripping sarcasm) for the tips...I knew about this event, but couldn't get there until after 11:00. The meat was all gone, sigh. Talked to Zane for a bit, and he was really pumped (as he should be).
                                                                                                    No problem--I also went for a Bitondo's pepperoni slice. Excellent! Guess I'll be paying for my next smoked meat sandwich, but I know it'll be worth every penny.

                                                                                                    1. re: Yongeman

                                                                                                      Yongeman, I forgot to mention in my review of Bitondo's that they forgot to raise the prices since the 80's. That was the kicker. They charged $2.25 for a large Pepperoni slice - Downtown Toronto!!! I was expecting to pay a good $4 at least. I've had better pizza, but theirs is very good - and fresh as hell. The customers come out there like a revolving door so their pizza slices are always fresh, right out of the oven. My wife burnt her mouth on her first bite.

                                                                                                      ps, Sorry that I ate most of the meat tonight, I couldn't help myself.

                                                                                                      I wouldn't mind if people weighed in on the mustard issue that I brought up. I would like to know people's takes on not really having an option of mustards at Caplansky's.

                                                                                                      1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                        There were bottles of yellow mustard and Dijon on the table. You needed to ask for naked bread. I didn't think you would have been so shy :-)

                                                                                                        1. re: embee

                                                                                                          You're right Embee - the first couple of open-face that I had I didn't know it already had Caplansky mustard on them and I squeezed French over the top (it was a little dark upstairs and I had downed a Moosehead). I realized after that I had double mustarded the open-facers. I decided that I would ask for the next one naked. When I went back into the line, the assembly line was in full force ... the mustard smearer had ALREADY spread Caplansky hot on EVERY piece of rye (about 12 slices) - those smeared ryes were awaiting meat placement. Next to the smearer was a new, vacu-sealed rye. His present loaf was done. While I enjoy fressing, I have my limits on 'pressing my luck' on freebies.

                                                                                                        2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                          I liked the yellow mustard they provided for my open faced sandwich. My first, and definitely not the last one! Mine was the tail end of a piece, a bit crumbly, but a nice combination of tender and slightly chewy. I would like to see a slightly sweeter smell to the spicing, maybe w/ bay or fennel. Some seeds I ate were quite bitter. The smokiness was subtle, way in the background, but definitely nontraditional.

                                                                                                          Maybe next time we attend an event, we should bring name badges if we want to be identified.

                                                                                                          1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                            m70, last night was my first time trying the new mustard and I have to say I'm on your side. For me it's the sweetness that gets in the way for me.

                                                                                                            The smokiness seemed a little less pronounced, perhaps, but I was eating the open-faced ones upstairs - didn't realize the whole thing had moved downstairs until we had to leave - and they were a little closer to room temp, understandably, tjhan a freshly cut sandwich on a normal day, so it's possible the hickory was there but just not as fragrant is it might have been.

                                                                                                            I took a few photos, which I'll hopefully get around to posting soon.

                                                                                                            1. re: tbonetak

                                                                                                              The meat was definitely less smokey last night.

                                                                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                                                                I agree. Despite being room temperature, the meat seemed 'perfect' to me last night. I also found the slices had more fat than usual. I took the time to study the brisket that was being cut and it was DEFINITELY fattier than the brisket that was being cut for me last week. Either Zane is ordering fattier briskets or he's leaving more fat on the meat before smoking (or a complete fluke). We'll see next week when I go back for my 2 sandwiches and borcht.

                                                                                                                I'm thinking maybe Zane should start a VIP card or something for regulars. If he charged me a grand for a "10% lifetime discount", I would save a bundle.

                                                                                                              2. re: tbonetak

                                                                                                                Finally posted my pics from the grand opening. There aren't many, as I wasn't able to stay too long, but there are a couple of shots of Zane in action.


                                                                                                                1. re: tbonetak

                                                                                                                  great shots! well done, tbonetak.

                                                                                                          2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                            I was looking for you, but the only clue I had was someone who was about 38, was with a female companion, and had a 6" thick sandwich in each hand.

                                                                                                            Many people met the first two criteria, which left only the giant sandwiches. I never noticed any, so figured you didn't make it. I wanted your opinion of my knishes (there weren't enough to put out on the table).

                                                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                                                              Man, I haven't had a good Knish in a long time. I could have used a couple last night. Where's the best place in TO to pick up half a dozen?

                                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                Keep waiting. I sampled much of what's readily available over the last few days. All were tasted without gravy or other distractions.

                                                                                                                Yitz's: Baked potato and beef knishes both looked very appetizing. Good size and reasonably priced. Unfortunately, the potato was unseasoned, heavy, and just barely edible. The beef tasted like ground boiled beef, and was not edible.

                                                                                                                Coleman's: A very small ball of deep fried dough surrounding a plausible ground beef filling. Instant heartburn. Insanely overpriced at almost $4.

                                                                                                                Pancer's: A very large and heavy deep fried disk of an unidentifiable (said to be potato) substance surrounding a ground beef filling. Deep fried again when served. Very heavy and greasy, though it didn't taste terrible. It cost almost $5! Less of a ripoff than Coleman's, though, since much larger.

                                                                                                                Centre St: The potato knish was the best of all I sampled, though still not very good. Plausible baked shell, but heavy, wet potato filling with insufficient seasoning. The beef knish was delicious. It is really a croquette, rather than a knish, though, so not really a contender. Deep fried shell surrounding a creamy potato layer with a beef core tasting of deli trimmings.

                                                                                                                Katz's: Beef knish is more a meat pie or strudel than a knish. Very tasty (I actually quite like it), though heavy, filling with ground beef and deli trimmings. Peppery. The baked shell is hard and awful. Microwaved when served. Needs a mixture of gravy (fake) and their "pastrami sauce" to be worth eating. Would be better warmed in an oven at home.

                                                                                                                Nortown: Baked and fried versions with several fillings. Everything looked okay, but everything was very bland.

                                                                                                                Sobey's Clark Av: Several knish suppliers and many styles, fresh, packaged, and frozen. Many looked good but nothing tasted especially good. They have authentic (frozen) Gabila's knishes from New York. Just as in my childhood, these were deep fried squares of cardboard filled with a hard, tasteless potato lump. Everything kosher.

                                                                                                                1. re: embee

                                                                                                                  I got to see embee's collection of knishes. it was quite impressive. Thanks for the sample of your own. For something made with dough, potato and meat, it was quite light. I can see how some of the others could be real gut bombs.

                                                                                                                  Last night was a good event. A good crowd, so it's nice to see Zane's got some support out there.

                                                                                                          3. re: duckdown

                                                                                                            Duckdown: Please listen very carefully: You mentioned poutine a couple of times, and I'm going to give one to you. I found a place in Oshawa. I know, it's out of the way, however, you can't get poutine in Toronto. (Not the poutine that you and I know). The place is called "Montreal Fries and Steamies" - for real. That's the name of the 'casse-croute' in Oshawa. The address is 36 Simcoe Street North, the cross street is on Bond (look it up on mapquest.com). The counter is actually on the Bond side of the street corner. I was there last month. My friend, it is by far the most authentic poutine you will ever have in Ontario. They also sell Lester's steamies (with choux if you want). They also have Lester's smoked Meat but please don't order it - the way it's cut and piled is almost blasphemous. The original owner was a Quebecois who wanted his Quebec fix and thought he would share his passion with Oshawonians. He since sold the stand along with his Quebecois secrets. The fries are TO DIE FOR and the poutine will have you driving back for more. I'm as passionate about my Quebec fries as I am about smoked meat - I wouldn't steer you wrong.

                                                                                                            1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                              How are the steamies? I've heard of this place a few times. Next time I'm out there, I want to check it out.

                                                                                                              Oh, and about the "most authentic poutine you will ever have in Ontario"...there are a few places in Eastern Ontario that would beg to differ. Ottawa has a bunch of great places. And St. Albert Ontario is where the best cheese curds in the world are made.

                                                                                                              1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                When it comes to food and culture, Ottawa is much closer to resembling Montreal than Toronto so I don't count it as Ontario. I do however, stand corrected. it's "The most authentic Quebecois patates and steamies anywhere near the GTA" - by far !!

                                                                                                                Gourmand - I'm telling you - if this place was down the street form you, you would be going there every week for the rest of your life. The fries, steamies and poutine could be served outside of a 'Rock Voisine' concert in Gatineau, Quebec and people would be in heaven !!!! That's how authentic the food is.

                                                                                                                The steamies are exactly like Lafleurs or Belle Province. They serve Lester's Dogs (official Dog of the Expos - who still play in Montreal in my head by the way), and they have minced Choux or whatever you like to top it. I even wanted my bun toasted, but I wasn't going to ask for miracles - when I arrived, I noticed that they actually serve a toastee if you want - it's on the menu.

                                                                                                          4. I don't agree with your comments on Katz's at all.

                                                                                                            It's completely unfair and inaccurate to say that Dominion has better meat. Also, it is far from tasteless (and no, it does not taste like tofu).

                                                                                                            Katz's is far from the best deli in the world (I've never seen them make that claim anyways), but the sandwiches are fairly tasty.

                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: kwong

                                                                                                              Hi Kwong: you're right, I did use exaggerated wording to express myself when comparing their meat to Dominion, and comparing it to tofu. I didn't mean it literally. I assumed people would understand that, however, point taken. I will be much more accurate in my descriptions in the future.

                                                                                                              I haven't been to Katz in 13 years, however, I do remember that I wasn't fond of the cafeteria style of getting my food. I also found that the meat wasn't seasoned enough. In my opinion, it was much more bland than a Lester's brisket or even Pickle Barrel Smoked Meat.

                                                                                                              On a positive note, the meat was 100% tender and 100% wholesome. The sandwich didn't taste 'disgusting' to me. I just found it bland compared to deli that I'm used to eating.

                                                                                                              As for the "best deli" claim, it was on their main sign next to the street entrance 13 years ago. If they took that off the sign or changed the sign since then, I respect them for doing that. Too many restaurants make all kinds of claims about having the best ____ "in the city" or "in the world" or "world famous ______" and unless it's true, it really gets my goat.

                                                                                                              With respect, if Katz' is your mainstay and you like it, you should try some of the recommendations on this thread because these places have tastier meat (in my opinion), and you may agree. It wouldn't hurt for you to try.

                                                                                                              Thanks for writing in and I look forward to hearing from you again.

                                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                Katz is not my mainstay. I just didn't agree with the exaggerated comments. =) I have tried some of the other suggestions on the thread already.

                                                                                                                I have been to Pickle Barrel, and I don't find their meat quite as good. I feel it's too lean and I also find them to be more expensive.

                                                                                                                I really wanted to try Caplansky's (even before this thread was created), but it's just too out of the way for me. I go downtown maybe once a year these days.

                                                                                                                Wolfie's is also on my list of "to try".

                                                                                                                1. re: kwong

                                                                                                                  Kwong, thanks for the heads up on the knishes. So far, I've only tried the one at Wolfies and my reaction was that of insult. It was a massive microwaved dry doughball a-la Jamaican Patty.

                                                                                                                  Let's just end the Katz/Pickle Barrel thread by both agreeing "there's better in the city" (although both are edible).

                                                                                                                  Back to knishes. In Montreal, we could find beef knishes, even pizza knishes, however, it's safe to say that 95% of consumed knishes in Montreal are old-fashioned Potato knishes eaten as-is. I realized that Toronto is big on Beef knishes - that's cool - I'm just looking for the perfect plain potato knish.

                                                                                                                  The best I've had in Montreal is from one of the dozen or more Jewish bakeries in the city (or selected grocery stores that carry Jewish noshes) that sells either "home-made", "Quality Kosher", or "Bubby Raes". They are very expensive (almost $10 for a 6-pack of small knishes) but worth every penny.

                                                                                                                  My perfect knish: Lightly greasy Phylo Pastry surrounding the outside - and not to doughy. On the inside, perfecly pureed mashed potatoes with butter (or marg to keep it pareve), plenty of pureed fried onions, with salt and pepper (maybe even a dash of garlic if it's called for).

                                                                                                                  If you know of any Jewish bakeries that sell killer gourmet knishes, maybe like I described, I would be indebted.

                                                                                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                    I apologize to Kwong and Embee, I thought that knish list was Kwong's. I now see it was embee's take on knishes. Please bear in mind that I had a cold Moosehead last night, and I haven't had much beer since University.

                                                                                                                    1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                      1 Moosehead makes you tipsy? :)

                                                                                                                      I wish I had your tolerance

                                                                                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                        It's ironic - I need two Fressers to fill me up on my deli fix, but one pint of beer is plenty.

                                                                                                                    2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                      I was thinking deli and forgot about these, but, yes, they are around. Bagel House has them. I don't know for sure, but St Urbain probably sells them also - miniatures with baked pastry wrappers, with potato, cabbage, or pizza fillings. Yes, these are better than any of the delis and are probably exactly what you are looking for. Gourmet? not so much, but they are certainly okay.

                                                                                                                      In my childhood New York, the big deal knishes were filled with liver or kasha. One kasha knish could fill you up for hours. Maybe days. The most common potato version was the cardboard squares in Sobey's freezer, though Mrs Stahl's in Brighton Beach made good potato knishes.

                                                                                                                      1. re: embee

                                                                                                                        I'm going this week to the Bagel House for bagels and Knishes. I just saw their website. I guess I've been in a cacoon (or working too hard) for a few years, I've been missing out on places that have been popping up. They say they opened in '99 - I'm surprised that not one person told me about it. They make traditional Montreal Bagels straight out of the wood-burning oven. You know what? Toronto is slowly becoming way more liveable for me. (I will be reviewing their bagels though) And their Knishes.

                                                                                                                        p.s. By Gourmet, I mean "fresh and taste like catered" - unlike gorcery store versions or deli versions. You know, the quality of knish that would be served as an hors d'ouvre at a wedding. The type that are sold in fine Jewish Bakeries. I think this place has what I'm looking for.

                                                                                                                        1. re: embee

                                                                                                                          Embee, I went on a hunt for Knishes late afternoon today. We started at "Bagel House" on Avenue, picked up a dozen Sesame seed, a cream cheese container, with 2 Latkas. They were out of Knishes! (That's like breaking a commandment in my books). We decided to have a pic-nic at Earl Bales. On the way, we picked up a corned-beef from pancer's. The corned beef was to die for.

                                                                                                                          Pancer's was packed tonight. I've never seen it that busy. Normally it's dead there. Man, they make a killer corned beef sandwich!!!. We also had our fresh bagels with cream cheese, The bagels taste like "excellent imitations of Fairmount". The bagels I used to get at St. Urbain on steeles were "almost identical" to Fairmount. Either way, slathered with cream cheese who cares, right?

                                                                                                                          Then we had the latkas - They were very good. Greast, oniony - I would say 10% too much dough batter, however, I'm used to saying a Latka has 70% too much dough batter (like the molded-pan ones at most supermarkets), so all was good!! Plenty of onion flavouring as well.

                                                                                                                          We decided to continue the hunt for knishes. We stopped at "The Happy Bagel Bakery", but they were closing and she wouldn't let me in. Then we went down the street to St. Urbain Bagel but they had just closed. We headed across the street to Food Basics on Bathurst and Steeles thinking there must be a huge Kosher section - Nothing there!! Then I went next door to "Bagel Brothers", however, the nice girl at the counter had never heard of a knish. No disrespect, but on Bathurst and Steeles, a place called Bagel Brothers, and she never heard of a knish? Something was wrong with that picture.

                                                                                                                          We then drove to Centre Street Deli, thinking they must have a nice knish section. They were closed. By the way, it was only 8:00 at this point. I saw there was a "knish Deli" next door, but it was closed.

                                                                                                                          I don't know. Closing early is very popular here in Toronto. In Montreal, we used to dine at 10 pm, walk around, get a drink, then head over to Fairmount Bagel at 2 am for a dozen sesame to take home.

                                                                                                                          I then remembered a thread between you and the Doc discussing the Kosher section at Clarke street Sobeys, and we made our way. They had a large kosher section and finally, I had a parcel of knishes in my hands. I felt vindicated. I brought home a dozen large - the package says "Montreal Kosher". I assume that's a local caterer. The knishes look scruffy (it looks like they were made in a hurry) but I never judge a book by its cover when it comes to delicasies. I microwaved a couple, and for scruffy supermarket knishes, they were delicious. I call these the "dome" type. (The other type is the "rectangular"). They have fully pureed mashed potato, not too much dough, and a nice hint of fried onion as well. I'm going to find the best in the city - but for now, these filled my fix and then some.

                                                                                                                          I don't know how Jayt heats up his knishes, but the microwave was built to do so. Not so good for smoked meat - however, you gave a great tip about the damp cloth.

                                                                                                                      2. re: kwong

                                                                                                                        Kwong, Caplansky's will blow your mind. This is just a suggestion: when you go, make sure that you're prepared for sweet hot mustard on the sandwich. If you don't think it's for you, ask for it naked and put on your own French's. Zane automatically puts Caplansky mustard on the sandwich unless you adamantly stop him.

                                                                                                                        1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                          Sweet hot mustard is fine by me. The only problem is that I can't see myself going there for ages. Heck, for that matter, I haven't gone to any deli places in half a year. If only there was a really great deli near Warden and Sheppard.

                                                                                                                  2. So does this mean he's sold out if I headed down there today?

                                                                                                                    1. Just came back from the Monarch, and Caplansky wasnt there... It was some young teenage girl instead

                                                                                                                      My fries were way too soggy, and the meat was cut too thicky.. Also I asked for medium and the girl definitely gave me fatty

                                                                                                                      Damn it.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                        Duckdown, I think the briskets are fattier than they were. When I go next time, I'm going to ask for "some fat" instead of shooting off my big mouth and saying "make mine really fatty" - and end up with a fat sandwich. I like mine meduim too. I like the fat to be just enough to flavour and moisten the meat.

                                                                                                                        Also, based on a couple of recent visits that were posted, I see that Zane needs an experienced back-up. You know, I was wondering when I was there last week "what would happen if Zane was sick for a week" - And then I heard two reports that the cutting was off. I knew it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                          Yea, good idea

                                                                                                                          Maybe next time I'll ask for "lean" and end up with a proper "medium"

                                                                                                                          The sandwich was still tasty but I did have to pull a couple of fat pieces or stringy pieces from my sandwich, which definitely never happened the previous times I've eaten there (when Caplansky makes the sandwich)

                                                                                                                          We will see I guess.. I was planning on buying a lb. or two to go also, as I've been mentioning, but I did not buy any after I ate my combo because I didn't want inconsistent cuts of meat

                                                                                                                          The fries were really quite soggy though..

                                                                                                                        2. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                          Except for fries, I would say ok .

                                                                                                                        3. The discussion about making your own smoked meat at home has been moved to the Home Cooking board. You can find the thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/553591

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                            MY RULES FOR TAKE-OUT SMOKED MEAT

                                                                                                                            DD, what I would do for take-out if Zane wasn't there: Order 2 pounds to go, I'm ordering it like this: "Some Fat". Then bring it home, spread the meat out on my cutting board, cut away any potential connective fat. When I'm ready to eat, I would heat up the two pounds in a collander over a double boiler (home steaming) - steam to taste (approx. 45 minutes to an hour for 2 pounds if taken out of the fridge), and put it into some sandwiches with double Frenches - Then invite over my cousins over for a feast.

                                                                                                                            One crucial rule while steaming the meat: Something that I always keep in mind, and is fundamental to home-steaming smoked meat: When you taste-test the meat for temperature and tenderness, try your best to not eat the entire 2 pounds before taking it out of the collander. I always keep this rule in mind.

                                                                                                                            Just my opinion on enjoying Caplansky's at home. I've steamed take-out Schwartz in the past (from the refrigerator) and the taste is 95% as close to a freshly cut sandwich !!!

                                                                                                                            The microwave does a decent job, but it does dry out the meat by 20% and you lose about 20% of the flavour in the meat. Other parts of the meat could become tough as well (as we know the microwave is famous for). Plus the fresh brisket "pops" and flakes of the meat go flying all over the microwave.

                                                                                                                            1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                              Microwaving isn't ideal, but in an emergency situation, you can wrap slices in a damp towel and nuke for about 20-30 seconds. Not recommended for a large chunk.

                                                                                                                              To get really fancy about steaming, stick a thermometer into a chunk and pull it when the center hits about 185-195 F.

                                                                                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                To resuscitate yesterday's pastrami sandwich--->>>

                                                                                                                                I remove pastrami from bread and fry it
                                                                                                                                I fry it very carefully until it gets nice and hot because the hotter the better. No oil is used because that would ruin the pastrami or corned beef

                                                                                                                                I've tried microwave and even steaming the slices. Steaming loses too much spice and flavor into the steaming water.

                                                                                                                                Careful frying works out best

                                                                                                                                1. re: gafferx

                                                                                                                                  Gaffer - I've done the frying method. Once the meat is hot and sizzling, I usually add 2-4 eggs to the pan depending on how much meat is left. I do that method with leftovers and/or if I need a break from the traditional sandwich with French's.

                                                                                                                                  The steaming method that I wrote in about applies more to a chunk of brisket (a 2-pound chunk and up) - I haven't steamed slices.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                    I steam sliced smoked meat smuggled across the border. However, I use a Chinese bamboo steamer, line the basket with parchment paper and avoid bringing the water to a roiling boil (easy does it).

                                                                                                                                    A loaf of kimmel from Harbord Bakery and a squeeze bottle of French's best yellow and I've got sandwiches that schmeck mightily. Without fail. Been doing it for decades.

                                                                                                                                    BTW, love the kibbitzing between you and embee.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                                      Bozo, while I was thinking about the steaming method to revive smoked meat, I though of the idea to use my bamboo steamer that I have. I never tried it, but now you just confirmed that method. I will be using it in the future.

                                                                                                                              2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                Rule: Microwave does a decent job.
                                                                                                                                Seriously? I put mine on the street in 1995.

                                                                                                                            2. I'm going to Caplansky's tomorrow if anyone wants to meet up and have a sandwich & beer

                                                                                                                              But more importantly -- Is it open tomorrow and will Caplansky himself be there? I guess I will call ahead of time! I really want to bring some product home for the rest of my family who would definitely like a tasty sandwich

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                DD, thanks for the invite, but I need a short break from deli at the moment. This past week, I've had Caplansky's, Marky's, Montreal Deli and Pancer's corned beef. Even Mr. Deli himself can't eat it every day. (Just almost every day). Let's organize a day where we can know in advance not to have deli for a couple of days. I'm also interested to know if the Doc will be bringing his kosher sandwiches to the Monarch to meet us (we could slip some Caplansky meat into his sandwich while distracting him). Plus embee needs time to cook his home-made knishes and verenishkas.

                                                                                                                                1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                  Now that Lara's back in New York, you'll find me in the deli every day except Monday when we're closed. Between 3 and 5 I try get to the gym or at least run some errands but otherwise I'm there and I expect this will remain my schedule as log as I'm in business - even after she returns. I love what I do and wouldn't have it any other way.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caplansky

                                                                                                                                    Thank you for perfecting Toronto's signature dish.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caplansky

                                                                                                                                      Mr. Zane!
                                                                                                                                      Thanks for bringing back new honor and respect for classic Jewish deli

                                                                                                                                  2. Yesterday, with much anticipation on my part, I picked up some sandwiches to introduce my wife and daughter to Zane's delights. To my horror (and at the risk of being shunned), my wife's take was "I prefer Katz's [flavourless, machine-sliced dreck]".

                                                                                                                                    On the other hand, dear daughter, on the strength of half a fresser, led her soccer team to victory, clinching the league title, and she was named "Player of the Game" for the first time ever. Magical qualities, perhaps?

                                                                                                                                    1. dude that was the funniest post i have ever read....as well as one of the best..i am also waiting for caplansky's to hit his stride....you make a good point when you say that he good good reviews yet he still working things out...makes you wonder...rb

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: ribboy

                                                                                                                                        There isn't much to wonder about. Caplansky's had a "soft" opening and was overwhelmed with business between a Globe & Mail article and, especially, the postings here. The "official" opening was just last week.

                                                                                                                                      2. I am not a Montrealer or an expert on Montreal Smoked Meat, but I do know that every meal I have had at Deli Snowdon was close to a religious experience.

                                                                                                                                        Every time I have been there I order the Extra Spicy Smoked Meat Sandwich full fat and when I was told the Centre Street Deli folks were related to the Deli Snowdon owners, I was excited but disappointed.

                                                                                                                                        I think that realistically maybe it has to do with the volume of business in a small area - the GTA is just too spread out for that these days.

                                                                                                                                        What I was hoping to find out from the experts here is: does anyone in the GTA offer an extra spicy Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich anywhere close to Deli Snowdon?

                                                                                                                                        I tried to read all the posts in this thread and got a little overwhelmed...

                                                                                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                                                                                                          Good question Asia. Most of us had similar somewhat dissapointing experiences comparing Centre Street with Snowdon Deli. As for a really spicy smoked meat sandwich, you'll have trouble finding it. Caplansky's makes an old-fashioned type smoked brisket that is spicy, however, it's not overwhelmingly spicy. On the other hand, people not used to spice might find Caplansky's sandwiches spicy. Either way, if you love Snowdon Deli you will love Caplansky's sandwich !! It's the only sandwich in Toronto that is as good or possibly even better than the Snowdon Deli.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                            I visited Caplansky's yesterday afternoon and ordered the smoked meat medium fat, no sides. The sandwhich was juicy, smokey and with just the right amount of spice and the bread was fresh. Overall a good experience. Service could have been a tad more attentive, I wasn't offered a menu and had to get up and get napkins myself. On my next visit I will repeat the sandwich but will add the required sides. On the up side, Geddy Lee was there having a bite.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: visualhornet

                                                                                                                                              If it's not Geddy Lee I feel sorry for the guy.

                                                                                                                                              I went for the third time and again had a nicely spiced, tender sandwich on good bread. I'm not an expert and can't comment on authenticity but I was happy, so that's all that really matters to me. Between Caplansky's, California sandwiches, Bitondo's and the Fish Store the neighbourhood is becoming the go-to area for great sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                                                                Add El Ghazale and Ali's if you're in the mood for a falafel or shawarma.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: gafferx

                                                                                                                                                I would like to know if any of you smoked meat experts would care (or should I say dare?) to expound on the most exotic of deli sandwiches--that of course would be " pickled tongue" sandwich on rye bread with yellow mustard, a kosher old dill pickle, and a black cherry soda. Even seasoned carnivores must overcome a significant psychological hurdle to taste one these. Those who have tried the experience will no doubt admit that tongue has a unique taste and texture which results in a very pleasant eating experience. Also are there any significant differences between Montreal and Toronto versions of this delicacy?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                  My mother used to cook tongue. I could bring myself to eat it half the time. She just simmered it for hours. Was it pickled where she bought it? Maybe. We made sandwiches with leftover. But on the day it was presented you got a few slices on your plate with some sides

                                                                                                                                                  I have no desire to eat it. Real shtetle peasant food I suppose

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                    Loved it once upon a time. I am sure it can't be very good for ya.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: deelicious

                                                                                                                                                      I used to make sandwiches with it in the 70's when our mixed deli platters ran out of smoked meat. My memory is that it was good, but couldn't hold a candle to smoked meat. As I said in another post, pickled tongue died out in Montreal in the early to mid 80's. It's almost impossible to find it there today.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                        I had a recent conversation with a nephew about the Chowhound web-site and Montreal smoked meat.
                                                                                                                                                        R. is a native Montrealer who moved to Toronto in 1985. He is a 55 year- old Chartered Accountant, He describes, with a pride typical of all Montrealers, his love and fondness for the Schwartz's Montreal smoked meat experience. He also mentioned a by-product of Schwartz's smoked meat briskets called "speck". He claimed he had never tasted speck because as a child, he was warned by his parents not to eat it. Apparently becauseof its excessive spicing and astronomical fat content, it was considered lethal and was only eaten by those whose recklessness bordered on the suicidal.
                                                                                                                                                        I, being a native Torontonian, had never heard the term "speck" let alone tasted it. The only thing I could possibly relate it to would be chicken "grebenes" or fried chiken fat renderings which were a by-product of fried chicken "shmaltz" (fat) that all Jewish mothers would make to use as a frying vechicle rather that vegetable oil. This ,of course, was many, many years ago, long before anyone had heard about and learned to live in deadly fear of cholesterol.
                                                                                                                                                        Has anyone out there ever eaten speck? If so, I would appreciate reading about your experience. Is it still available at Schwartz's and do customers still consume it in this health conscious age?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                          Doc, back in the day, my elders at my table at Schwartz wouldn't eat their meal unless they got a side of speck. Like your nephew, I was told to not go near it, it's not for kids. I tried a little taste once. It was greasy, peppercorned fat. I heard that they stopped serving it (inappropriate in today's world). It was my impression that it was part of the brisket fat that was trimmed before the cutters made sandwiches, and someone waaaaaaay back probably said "Are you throwing that out? What are you nuts? Put it on my plate !!!!!" - so they started collecting the spiced fat for customers who requested it on the side of their plate. It was 'en vogue' for crooners to order speck. It wasn't on the menu, and they didn't charge for it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                            They had it in the sixties and it wasn't necessarily free. People would buy quantities of it for takeout. I don't know exactly what it was, but my understanding at the time was that they took pieces of pure fat, added more spice, and gave it more smoke.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                              To my recollection, even the crooners at my table who ordered speck on the side knew that "there was something about it that wasn't kosher" (that it wasn't good for you) - and I've never seen any of them get a bundle for take-out. When they ordered it, all their wives would say "what do you need that for?" (very much like the banter you see with George's parents on Seinfeld). None of their wives would ever allow a bag of speck for takeout !!! - In that vein, embee, you're going to have to cover the take-out commentary on speck. I'm wondering if they charged their "greasy spiced lard" by the pound or by the container. :)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                A little dab of speck will do ya (extra seasoning and flavour for your sandwich), more will have your cardiologist shaking his head (whether you are alive or not when he hears about your gourmandaise).

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                    Sorry to take so long to reply but thanks for your answer montrealer70.

                                                                                                                                                    Hubby and I had Caplansky's - he loved the poutine, and the smokiness of the meat but found some of it a little dry. I found it all way too smokey for my palate.

                                                                                                                                                    We also tried Steeles Deli - as per the article in Toronto Life and we really liked it. Not as good as the extra spicy from Deli Snowdon, but better than Centre Street in our opinion. Like so many things, everyone has their own preferences, and for now Steeles gets my vote.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                                                                                                                      You can get it extra spicy from the Snowdon Deli?? Never heard that.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BLM

                                                                                                                                                        That's the way I always have ordewred it there because the person I went with the first time who lives in the area ordered it that way.

                                                                                                                                                        It has been far too long since my last visit - I think it is time for a road trip!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                                                                                                                          I'll try my next time I'm in Snowdon Deli. I still find the smoked meat at Snowdon Deli, the best in Montreal. If you didn't know, make sure to ask for Old-Fashioned, otherwise if you don't specify you get their regular smoked meat(still very good, but not as good as old-fashioned).

                                                                                                                                                2. Speckulation aside, there's nothing like a good tongue lashing on fresh rye. I prefer mine smoked but pickled is also fine. A nice light beefy flavour and a denser texture.

                                                                                                                                                  Oh for the days when offal wasn't (considered) awful.

                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                                                    My 14-year old daughter prefers the tongue from Katz's to their smoked meat or pastrami. It's smoked, not pickled. I've had it; it's a nice change of pace.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                                                      had the tongue sandwich at sarge's in nyc but i was likely blitzed by lack of sleep at the time... anyone know if this is a pickled or other cooking style? i'm assuming not pickled just because there wasn't any extra tang to it.

                                                                                                                                                      loved it... too bad you could tell it wasn't healthy for you after the first bite. is this not at all accessible in toronto or montreal? not sure if i'm assuming a different sandwich than you're all talking about.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                                                                                        Traditionally, NY deli tongue was pickled (with a low spice content) and not smoked. Don't take this as gospel, though, since I haven't had it in at least thirty years.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                          Folks, discussion of whether food is healthy or unhealthy is off topic for this board. Please keep this thread focused where to find great Montreal smoked meat in Toronto. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                                                                                          Tongue, both pickled and smoked varieties, is readily available in Montreal. I haven't had it in many years so I can't vouch for Toronto, although I would expect any good middle-European deli would carry it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                                                            It may be available in Montreal, however, I haven't seen anyone eat it or serve it at occasions for about 25 years. No-one under the age of 60 in Montreal has any desire to go near tongue.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                                                              thank you, that is fantastic. i may have to belly up to the counter at schwartz's all day long to get my fill of smoked meat and tongue sandwiches. after some quick searching it seems that the above mentioned katzs (thanks KevinB), yitzs and pancers are my locales for toronto. if anyone can comment on the quality at each i'd be ecstatic.

                                                                                                                                                              montrealer70, dear lord i hope you're wrong about not seeing it around because i will gladly lead the charge of introducing this wonderful sandwich to my fellow 20-somethings. I have not had such a drastic craving as this since my complete and utter conversion to properly made sushi.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                                                                                                Although it's not up my alley, power to the tongue lovers. I'm all for anything old-fashioned, so lead the way Pinstripe!! Maybe you should start a new tongue post for "closet" tongue lovers.

                                                                                                                                                        3. Last night I unwrapped my two pounds of Schwartz from the fridge. I used Mr. Bozo's tip and steamed 3/4 of a pound in my chinese bamboo steamer. I steamed the meat for exactly 10 minutes (once I had nice steam coming out of the pot). I made two sandwiches. By far, the best "take-out-by-the-pound" smoked meat sandwich I ever had. Absolutely no flavour loss, the meat itself was greasy and the most tender I've ever had. Even the fat was 100% tender and completely "melt-in-your-mouth style". I wouldn't revive my smoked meat any other way now that I have the perfect method.

                                                                                                                                                          I've had Schwartz "by the pound" takeout countless dozens of times and never did it taste the way it did from the chinese steamer. The meat and fat were so tender, that it made no difference that I'm completely inept at piling the meat in the sandwich (plus I wouldn't waste my time craftily piling when there's fresh smoked meat to be eaten). It made no difference at all. My sandwich tasted like it was handed to me by one of the cutters at Schwartz. Heaven!!

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks Mr. Bozo !!

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                            Montrealer70 : A couple times above, you mentioned the word "crooners" in relation to "speck". Is this word to be taken literally or does it have a special "insiders" connotation in the context of Schwartz's?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                              No insider meaning - just typical men from the 40's and 50's who lived for smoked meat, chopped liver, Sinatra records and Broadway.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                              email me at the address on my profile and, therein, please advise where I can pick up my portion from you ;-)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                My pleasure. And hopefully that of everyone who uses this method. Works equally well with corned beef and pastrami. The keys are good ventilation and gentle steaming.

                                                                                                                                                              2. so is there anywhere in downtown T.O. that serves a really good sandwich on a sunday? Wanted to go to Caplansky's but i heard it was shut on sunday. Reading this board has got me salivating for a gorgeuos smoked meat (or closest thing to.) sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BritinCan

                                                                                                                                                                  I think he is now open on Sundays, but call first. Sorry, but I don't have the phone number handy. I know he is closed Monday. Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                2. There's a posting under another topic that a place called "Salvador Darling" was advertising Real Montreal Smoked Meat from Schwartz's. Does anyone know anything about this? See: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/556825

                                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                    whoa, that'd be pretty cool.

                                                                                                                                                                    I've never tried authentic Schwartz MSM before, so I'm always left just imagining what it might be like after trying all of the other local haunts.

                                                                                                                                                                    Someone check it out and report back :D

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                      That was me who posted that. It was advertised earlier in the summer on their sidewalk chalkboard. Quite frankly, I wouldn't trust the place for any kind of consistency. Everytime I've been in there they've been disorganized, to be charitable.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                        Today at Caplansky's, I had the most unbelievably good knish I've ever had. Although it was more like a bureka than a knish. I googled "bureka knish" and got to a post in a blog that stated, "these small pastries, called k'nishes, are a much loved and uniquely [eastern european] jewish staple snack item — and cousin to the bureka, their sephardic counterpart." So I guess they are really the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                        Regardless, this knish/bureka was amazing. Really light, flaky pastry with a savoury filling made of well seasoned, creamy potato and shredded smoked meat. There must have been something else too (spices and other ingredients, dairy perhaps???). It was really delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                        Also had a bowl of the cabbage borscht. I could live on this soup. I love the rich broth, vegetables and most importantly the chunks of well done yet tender smoked meat. Even my bubby would have been impressed.

                                                                                                                                                                        I didn't have a sandwich today but definitely next time.

                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe Embee can answer a question. I love Caplansky's smoked meat, but it's just not as tender and well marbled as Schwartz's. I've had more tender and less tender at Caplansky's so maybe it has to do with consistency. Or is it a different cut he's using? Is it the method? I read that you've spoken to him, so is it something he's working on? Just curious.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: acd123

                                                                                                                                                                          I can only hypothesize.

                                                                                                                                                                          - Schwartz has a much bigger smoker, which could make a difference. Certainly the air circulation would be different
                                                                                                                                                                          - Perhaps the briskets at Schwartz have more marbling overall
                                                                                                                                                                          - Possibly Zane needs more steam
                                                                                                                                                                          - Perhaps just consistency

                                                                                                                                                                          But I really don't know. Lean at Schwartz can be very dry and is sometimes difficult to even chew.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: acd123

                                                                                                                                                                            acd123: I'll bet you dollars to donuts that the other unidentified ingredients in the meat knish are not dairy. And if i'm wrong Iand there is dairy ingredients, I can guarantee, that your Bubby would not have been impressed.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                                              LOL. You're absolutely right. She would not have been impressed. I thought the same thing as I was writing. The knish filling was so creamy that I thought it must be butter or cream. But on second thought, I think I figured it out. Chicken shmultz.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: acd123

                                                                                                                                                                                My favorite Queens, NY knishes were potato. Of course there was schmaltz in them. It was the X factor that jazzed up the potato filling and total eating experience. The potato filling had a nice dose of black pepper

                                                                                                                                                                                Kasha knishes were also popular. No meat in any of them

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gafferx

                                                                                                                                                                                    Regina always made a great kasha knish. Not sure if they still do.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. My second visit to Caplansky's - I took out a fresser sandwich on Thursday. It was different from the first ones that I got last month. This sandwich was EXTREMELY dry. I ordered fat, and I got fat in the sandwich, however, even the fat was dry. No grease in the sandwich whatsoever. The sweet hickory was also in full force to a fault. The sandwich was also too salty. When the fat is as dry as the meat, it's a real f***ing problem.

                                                                                                                                                                              Last week, I polished off two pounds of Schwartz. I'm not basing the following comparisons on a "memory from childhood" or a "past tourist visit to Montreal".

                                                                                                                                                                              I'll put it simply and tactfully. Caplansky's sandwiches are not Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches. It's an insult to Schwartz' and the Montreal deli-loving community to even mention Caplansky's sandwich in the same sentence.

                                                                                                                                                                              The cache of a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich is the melt-in-your-mouth, tender fat combined with the loaded peppercorn spiced, smoked and steamed, greasy, marbled brisket that creates a taste sensation that can't be matched by any other deli experience. Caplansky's is on the other end of the spectrum. No grease, cured and smoked to a fault, almost no peppercorn spice and no greasy fat.

                                                                                                                                                                              The Caplansky sandwich should be under a heading such as "Unique Deli Experiences". This place is not for Montrealers (at least as far as getting their fix).

                                                                                                                                                                              Unless I'm downtown, it's a one hour treck for me to get to Caplansky's. It's about 35 minutes to the Gardiner, then 25 minutes negotiating through traffic and construction to Little Italy, then finding parking and walking down the street to get this sandwich. In terms of "getting my fix", it's not worth the effort.

                                                                                                                                                                              This is important to mention: If you have friends, associates or relatives in town, please Do Not boast about Caplansky's and represent it as Montreal Smoked Meat. If your guest is here from Montreal, you will be SEVERELY embarrassed by your recommendation. If your guest never visited Montreal and wants to try an authentic Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich, you're GRAVELY mis-representing this place as such.

                                                                                                                                                                              I love the concept of Caplansky's, although I've never dined-in, it feels like a warm atmosphere for me. I love Zane and I love his passion - and I would probably be back if I was in the area. It's just not Montreal Smoked Meat.

                                                                                                                                                                              If Zane is trying to replicate Montreal Smoked Meat, the recipe need a serious overhaul. If he's "makin' his own thang", G-d bless, and I wish him all the success in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                              Montrealers are as passionate about their fresh-cut fries as they are about their Smoked Meat. Caplansky's serves by far the best fresh-cut fry in the GTA. I had them on the side of my fresser and they were the highlight of my meal. They were crispy, greasy and very tasty. I also got mostly full-length sticks unlike the stumps that I got last month. If I lived near by, the fries alone would get me into his place on a regular basis. I'm proud to call them worthy of a Montreal fry. They are a cross between the Harvey's fries from the 80's and "Decarie Hot-dog". Very high praise considering where I'm from.

                                                                                                                                                                              Bottom line in Toronto: If you enjoy Southern dry-cured, hickory-smoked lean brisket, this place is for you. If you want a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich, grab a Lester's sandwich at the locations mentioned above in this post - and hopefully you could get the cutter to slice lots of edible fat into your sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                              Before putting Caplansky's and Schwartz' in the same reference in a post, please try Schwartz' again.

                                                                                                                                                                              My next smoked-meat fix will be relieved by Peters on Eglinton. I will post my review upon my return.

                                                                                                                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                                Very few call this a schwartz experience. It is a southern style deli smoked meat. And normally not dry the way you describe. That was an off day. It is a very interesting taste and the texture is normally very good. I agree too that it is salty sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                There are better fries in the city although Zanes are very good, they arent the best IMO. And sometimes they are over cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: deelicious

                                                                                                                                                                                  Dee: I don't know. I've had fries all across the city for 13 years, never had one as good as Caplansky's. Please share your knowledge. Who has better fries? (Fresh-cut I assume).

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree with this, I haven't seen better fries in Toronto.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                                  I took home some smoked meat to go in my last visit, and the saltyness was off the chart, like borderline inedible

                                                                                                                                                                                  I did not have this problem with the sandwich I ate while dining in though, I am not sure what is going on but the salt factor is WAY too much on my last visit as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Very odd...

                                                                                                                                                                                  Peters on Eglinton is good, I don't care what people say. Sure, its Lesters. But they have the super old fashioned original deli slicing machines, and they will cut your sandwich to any thickness and even by hand if requested. I prefer my smoked meat sliced very thinly actually. Ask for the "Super Smoked Meat", this is their "fresser". It comes with fries (garbage) and their house coleslaw (awesome.) I suggest replacing the fries with another side dish because they are absolutely horrific.. Frozen fries, with no seasoning at all. Awful.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I love Caplansky's but they need to adjust the salt in the recipe

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                    Something went wrong with this batch of smoked meat. Just returned from dinner (no knishes) and although the meat was great in every way, it was WAY too salty where I wasn't sure we would be able to finish our sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: deelicious

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ahh, so this confirms it, 3 of us all had the same "salty" experience

                                                                                                                                                                                      And mine was WEEKS ago, like 3 weeks ago now I think. I bought a ton of meat to bring home for the rest of my family and it was _so_ salty... None of the said anything to me, they wanted to be nice im sure, but I noticed it right away.. I really wish this wasn't their first introduction to the awesome meat I've enjoyed before, because I know next time, even if I bring home succulent properly salted meat, they will be hesitant to gobble it up

                                                                                                                                                                                      Glad it wasnt just me who noticed it...

                                                                                                                                                                                      cheers :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                        I had a similar experience about a month ago with an excessively salty sandwich. Had brought a friend too, raving about the sandwich, and was a bit embarassed. However, I've had 5 in total and all but that one have been good to great. I don't think it's fair to turn on the place at this stage.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, and DD, I had a pretty decent poutine last night at the Auld Spot Pub on Danforth. Gravy wasn't exactly right, but they used curds!!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm going on Friday. It better not be salty!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                            I love the Danforth!

                                                                                                                                                                                            I try to make it there at least once every week or two for gyro's and souvlaki.. Messini is my usual stop, but I will definitely try and check out that pub next time I'm there for more than just take-out

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the info, GG :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                              I got back to Caplansky's today. My sandwich was the best ever. Salty? For sure, but emphatically not too salty. It was juicy, just greasy enough, and very tender. Extra spice on the sandwich is now an option.

                                                                                                                                                                                              He is now serving the poutine so many people have been demanding. Frankly, I can't rationalize poutine as a Jewish deli menu item, but what the hell.... The gravy has a chicken base with (surprise) bits of smoked meat. The cheese curds are real. I think the smoked meat should be sprinkled on as a separate layer rather than mixed with the gravy, but nobody asked for my opinion :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              The "Jewtine" upgrade adds a topping of onions fried in schmaltz. One guy was eating this and said the combination really worked. I was't prepared to risk my stomach on that after my sandwich, but I guess I'll need to try it in the name of research. I was dubious about this idea, but it did look and smell very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The knishes were sold out.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                The poutine recipe is by the book even if not kosher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Hmmm, soup and a knish? Sandwich and slaw? Poutine? Decisions, decisions ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Looks like I know where I'm headed this weekend...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You MUST be joking

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was there like, 2 nights ago, had a sandwich that was pleasantly un-oversalted (i did not post about it here , but its true) but I have been the biggest advocate in poutine requests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Awesome news.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I will be there tomorrow before 4pm. If anyone wants to have a pint and shoot the sh** i'll be there!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    However -- laugh at me all you want -- I absolutely HATE onions. So I'll be opting for whatever doesn't have them

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks MB

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                              DD, what should I get as my side instead of the frozen fries? I assume they don't have knishes :). p.s.: You don't have to defend Peter's - I read rave reviews on three different web-sites.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think I usually get a greek salad instead.. I've tried quite a few of their sides.. rice pilaf, etc but I can't remember which ones I thought were really good

                                                                                                                                                                                                This is an authentic greek place and ANYTHING greek they serve is often the best I've had

                                                                                                                                                                                                I ordered their chicken souvlaki to go one time, when they told me it was $20 before tax I almost had a seizure... But when I brought it home there was like 3lbs of food there, TONS of amazing charred chicken. And the same can be said about their super smoked meat sandwiches (biggest I've had in the city, assuming the right person is working the machines. Hopefully their main meat cutter is there, he is a very large fellow, but a hell of a nice guy and knows how to make one amazing sandwich)

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think I'm going tomorrow >:)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Hey folks..

                                                                                                                                                                                            So I was just channel surfing and ended up on Show Case on cable, and it was showing a show I've seen before called "Kenny vs Spenny" , this is entirely filmed in Toronto and the episode happened to be "Who can eat the most meat?" David Adjey makes a nice personal appearance on it and comes over to the guys house to cook for him

                                                                                                                                                                                            It is kind of a crude show for chowhound so I'm not sure if I can link to it, haha, you could find it on youtube by searching for simply "who can eat more meat", its in 3 parts.. Anyhow, they eat at all kinds of famous Toronto destinations like Barberians steak house (man i want to go here) and some Korean Grill House etc. and sure enough he ends up at a place for a massive deli sandwich, looked like either pastrami or corned beef, but I haven't heard the place mentioned yet.. It was an orange sign that said Yitz's Deli , is this place any good? It looked like quite a good sandwich to me but I've never tried one

                                                                                                                                                                                            oh And montrealer70 did you try Peters yet? Wondering your take on it :)


                                                                                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                              DD: I'm still building up the moxy to head over to POE. I have to pack a lunch and check my tires first, then I'm heading out West. :) I've been wanting to try it since you mentioned it. I just haven't had time.

                                                                                                                                                                                              About Yitz: This is another Toronto deli institution. I've never been there and I'll tell you why. I was recommended to go to four different places for deli in Toronto and only one of them was borderline "ok". I was told "Do Not Go to Yitz". So I figured if I didn't like the places that were recommended to me, it was logical for me not to go to one that I was told that I wouldn't enjoy. Once again, I was never there, so it would be unfair of me to say any more. Embee will be able to fill in the rest from his experiences there.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                If you expand this thread, you’ll find my comments on Yitz’s. Their specialty is corned beef, not smoked meat. Not even sure if they do smoked meat. Corned beef is their thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                An institution is right. I think it’s been there for at least 30 years. Their corned beef is just scrumptious. Now, I haven’t had it in a couple of years, and over the past 5 years or so the restaurant has gone into decline somewhat. Not so much in their food, as in its general business. Yitz’s is a gem of a place. A deli AND a bakery. Since the original owner sold it 10 years ago or so it has fallen off people’s radar. It used to be hopping busy all the time. Now it is a ghost town, but probably survives on takeout, prepared foods, and possibly catering I’m guessing? Too bad, its interior has so much potential but is now becoming a tad dated. It’s slightly pricey, it’s on the outskirts of Forest Hill, a swank neighbourhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Anyways, the last time I had their corned beef it was still great. But that was 2 years ago. Now, who knows? I hardly go in anymore. It’s just too sad for me. Wouldn’t mind checking it out soon though. Not sure who said don’t go to Yitz’s. Their food was always good. But to each their own I guess. If you go, get their chicken matzo ball soup, ripple cut fries, latke, and blueberry pie. Pies are house-made and used to be great. Hopefully it still is good (their bagels and muffins aren’t what they used to be, so hopefully their pie is till ok). The fries are frozen but they were always so good. Soup and latkes made fresh, mmmmm. Get your corned beef medium at least. And order it hot (they give you the option of hot or cold, although I think the default is hot).

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                  How odd -- I punched their name into google and came across their take-out menu:


                                                                                                                                                                                                  And call me crazy -- but it looks like they've done away with the sliced beef sandwiches altogether?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not a single mention of corned beef or anything similar -- only tongue, something they call "AtteDeli", chopped liver (blech!), salami, and turkey breast, and veal (I didn't even know veal was kosher).. I must be missing something

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh I don't think Yitz's is kosher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If they took corned beef off of their menu they are stupid. That might help explain the dead traffic in there. Hmm, I wonder if they just didn't include it on the online menu for some insane reason. I might have to call and find out what's what.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Veal can be kosher. Looking at it in the elemental sense, it's a young cow. However, Yitz's is not kosher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Magic: I think I'll try Yitz. The menu looks great (DD, on the website, click on "catering", right away you'll see corned beef on their menu). The guy who told me not to go there probably had Montreal Smoked Meat on the brain and they probably have nothing to substitute for it - that's probably what he meant. Since coming to Toronto, I started getting addicted to Corned Beef (the next best thing in Toronto), so based on your recommendation, I will try it. Montrealers usually view corned beef as a bland, drier, less fatty version of smoked meat. Since coming here, I've grown to appreciate corned beeef - plus it's a lot healthier. So far my favorite that I've had was at Pancer's. I assume I'll have to also try Corned Beef House - if it's not their specialty, they should really change their name!! Let's see Embee's take on these two institutions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good, montrealer70, I hope you like Yitz’s! If you don’t, at least you’ll know. If you like Pancer’s corned beef, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like Yitz’s. I always liked Yitz’s better. Not only in terms of their corned beef, but all the other choices and offerings Yitz’s had that Pancers does not. I mean, fresh pies! Please!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I called Yitz’s just now and they do indeed still have corned beef. I don’t know why it is not more visible on its website. That seems to be a pretty big error on their part I’d think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I hope you like it. And ya’ll have inspired me. I think it’s time for me a to make a pilgrimage there as well. Soon. Hopefully it’s all good still.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        ps. Do not ever go to a corned beef house looking for smoked meat. Why would anyone ever do that? I don’t care where you’re from or what you prefer, it makes no sense.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        pps. order the corned beef hot and at least medium!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: montrealer70

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Corned Beef House is about Montreal smoked meat. They sell Lester's standard, machine sliced. They probably do have corned beef, but I've never tasted it. It's a serviceable sandwich in an otherwise lacking area, but nothing special. Zoulpy's diner on King East is much better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yitz's is kind of sad. Yitz was the manager of the old Spadina Shopsy's, and opened his own place at some time in the seventies. It was very popular at one time, but it is now usually almost deserted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I believe the current owner is the son of people who once owned a great appetizing store on Eglinton, but I can't think of much to praise. I suspect that the deli meats, as with Pancer's, are from Chicago 58, though I've never investigated this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          They used to have decent homestyle Ashkenazic dinners (flanken, chicken in the pot, tongue), but I haven't had anything like this at Yitz's in many years. The stuff in the takeout counter looked pitiful when I was last there not long ago. They have a full bakery, but I've never thought the baked goods tasted all that good. Others disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There's no reason to avoid Yitz's if you happen to be in the immediate vicinity, but I wouldn't travel any distance to eat there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Red Alert:: Attention: embee, montrealer70 and others:
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Driving north on Avenue Rd. south of Wilson Ave.today, the following caught my eye:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hershey's Family Restaurant and Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1943 Avenue Rd.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Phone 416-785-7424

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Big sign in store window: Now Serving Montreal Smoked Meat

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have no further information- perhaps it's worth checking out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the heads up... Hopefully someone else who lives nearby can fill us in on the details

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been to Hershey's and quite honestly, I can't see it. It's a good spot for bacon and eggs but I don't think I'd venture trying anything beyond that. I've heard that the owner used to work at the now defunct bakery restaurant at Yonge and St. Clair, which name escapes me at the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I believe you are thinking of Bregman's...they used to offer an exceptional cheese Danish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I got my latest issue of Toronto Life in the mail yesterday.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        They did an article, of sorts, on Montreal Smoked Meat, Pastrami etc etc article is here:
                                                                                                                                                                                                        A few of our favourite places are mentioned.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, the Hot Tongue mentioned in the article is intriguing...... something for a different discussion here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Makes me want to try Steeles Deli, has anyone tried that one recently?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Poorboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                          dear lord am i looking for an easy way to get some hot tongue sandwich! i'm intimidated in making my own but i'll be at it in a couple of weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Well lets see how about a little trivia to start so that you guys know that Im not Joe shmow from Cocamo , Firstly you will never ever be able to get a knish like the ones that Eddy Switzer use to make when he was the boss and owner of Switzers on Spadina Ave. It just doesnt exist anymore and I feel sorry for those of you who were never able to eat one, Secondly across the Street at Shopsys there was a young guy who was working there for 20 odd years cutting meat and became a black belt in Judo. Later on this young man Yitz ventured on his own and opened Yitz;s on Eglinton Ave. When Stan Pancer and his mother Rose ran Pancers at York Downs he truly did make one of the best Pastrami sandwiches in the late 50s and early 60s but as he got sick the place started to go down hill. To day I wouldnt even bother to walk in the place. Wolfies restaurant was started about 35 years ago by two brothers and now one of the originals still runs the place. Hasnt changed from the day it started and I remember Schmerels just up the street from there. Well my friends time changes a lot of things sometimes for the good unfortunately for smoked Meat and Pastrami it was for the worst. The best that Toronto ever had to offer was in the late 50s and early 60s and down hill from there. So here is my 2 cents worth of knowledge. Best smoked meat in the world is Schwartz's in Montreal. Second best is a two way tie going to Katzs and Stage Deli in NYC , and third place Carnegie Deli in NYC. As for the city of Toronto to day in my humble opinion best Pastrami sandwich in the city is hands down Steeles Deli Warehouse run strangely enough by a Chinese family but 100% Jewish customers. The original owner Phil who was Jewish made all his own briskets he then got sick with cancer sold the buis to the Chinese Family and they have maintained the quality religiously ever since. Best roast beef sandwich has to go Katz's on Dufferin St make sure you get it with the hot sauce on it and next if I may add the best cabbage rolls I have ever eaten save for my wifeLOL, in a restaurant goes again to Katzs. simply the best cabbage rolls in the city of TO. The End of my story

                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Mr.D

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Went to Steele's Deli tonight -- an awesome pastrami sandwich, you are right

                                                                                                                                                                                                            almost reminescent of Caplansky's for some reason, it had that delicious meltaway fat rather than the rubbery kind sort of like Lester's

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Very good tip -- sandwich was a little small though, and I even got the "large" sized one

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Price per lb. wasn't bad either at only $11.50, but I have a feeling it would be a small lb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Great advice nonetheless, thanks for the tip! Will definitely return

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Based on this thread and a few of the comments about Steeles Deli, I decided it was worth a try. It took me several trips to try the Big Three deli meats: Corned Beef, Pastrami and Smoked Meat. As a disclaimer, I will state that I am a smoked meat fan, and generally find corned beef and pastrami to bland for my liking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              First, the bad news: I was not impressed with the smoked meat. It was surprisingly bland and lacked the rich sumptuousness that comes from the fat. I WILL go back and try it again, since a sample size of one may not be representative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now the good news: I loved both the corned beef and pastrami. They both had the rich fattiness that the smoked meat lacked. The corned beef was quite mild, as it should be. The pastrami was not significantly spicier than the corned beef, but there was enough more spice that I did prefer it to the corned beef. In fact, when I went in the last time to give the smoked meat a second chance, I changed my mind at the last minute to chose the pastrami.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              One thing that I noticed was that they use large diameter double rye loaves yet put the same amount of meat that David, at Wolfie's, would put on a single rye sandwich. Maybe some people like to spread the pile of meat to fill the sandwich. I don't, and so I discarded about a third of each slice of bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since they are not a smoked meat deli, I wouldn't bother. I don't know whether they make or buy the smoked meat, but the sample was likely representative. It's a corned beef/pastrami place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed. It wouldn't be at the top of my list, since I am a smoked meat fan, but I will be back for the corned beef and pastrami.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Despite being in a suburban strip plaza, it seemed to have a neighborhood charm to it as if there were a lot of regulars. The staff were quite friendly as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I went to Caplanski's today to see what all the excitement was about and am pleased to report that the smoked meat sandwich was terrific. The smoking was just right and the homemade mustard was a nice addition. The place has a home style feel and it will only get better. You can't compare the smoked meat here with any other place in the City. This is the real deal!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            32 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: aiw

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So far, my vote is with Caplansky's too. Just came back from Montreal and had a rather disappointing sandwich at Schwartz's. I asked for medium and it was pretty dry, never had it that bad there before. It's either that, or I liked Caplansky's better. Call it sacreligious if you like, but it's the truth, so be it. Hopefully it's just a slip up on Schwartz's part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: currycue

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, it was just a slip up. Usually, one of every 7 of 8 sandwiches from Schwartz's is like that when ordered medium.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: currycue

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dry meat is always a potential issue with this type of cure. Going back over thirty years, this has always happened from time to time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That said, there have been a few disturbing comments about quality control at Schwartz in recent Montreal board postings. Some suggest that their new takeout shop has messed things up badly, though I have no personal experience and can't agree or disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've generally ordered medium at Schwartz. At Caplansky's, I order fatty. My last fatty sandwich at Caplansky's was flawless. My wife ordered lean. She got lean. She can have lean. Yes, of course it was dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There were a couple times I've had dry meat, but this was when I first went and ordered medium fatty (as I would at Schwartz's). Since I've ordered fatty, I've never had a dry sandwich at Caplansky's. I didn't find the meat sliced too thickly; it's not machine-sliced, but that's not a big deal. The only time I've ever had soggy fries was in the poutine (to be expected, obviously).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also... I'm not sure what the pickle comment is about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you want lean, you're going to get dry meat, that's how it works. I've never had a dry fatty sandwich there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On Mar 31 you said "the sandwiches are decent".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Aug. 24: " the fries were unbelievably good+salty", and, "I thought (the sandwich) was pretty tasty."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What might have changed?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        what seems to have changed is that caplansky isn't ever doing the cooking anymore (when im there at least.... hell, he's not even there at all usually)... it's always a different young teenager... and since my original visits i've had some seriously disappointing ones. OVER salted fries, not cooked enough (soggy and oily), sandwiches that are quite small, and often dry, but most importantly inconsistent. And that is exactly whats gonna happen when you've got new teenagers working there every other week. Someone mentioned a long time ago that the meat cutters at Schwartz'es in Montreal all have been doing so for years, just to master the skill. How is having a new cook on every other visit going to make this possible... I wish I had a better explaination for it but I'm not sure what else it could be

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        edit: oh and how could i forget the time that i brought my little brother into the place for a lunch just to hear the bartender blabbing at the top of his lungs about how much dope he was doing the night before and how the female he picked up ran out on him in the middle of the night... in much cruder detail. that was pretty bad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Please tell Zane directly what you just told us. I doubt he'll be there very much the entire summer, what with the renovations on College St in full swing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I believe every sandwich is supposed to be weighed, so someone may be cutting corners to speed things up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One of the cutters is a professional, but he doesn't eat smoked meat himself and seems to be programmed to throw away all of the fat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well I don't really know Zane like the rest of you do, I mean I've talked to him a few times, mainly when he was starting out and was the one who not only cooked but brought you your food also. Since then I rarely see him when I visit... and I still do visit. There was a level of "care" when it was all his operation. You could tell that everything he served had CARE put into it.. Details into the cooking of the fries, the right amount of salt, a generous sandwich, and so on

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If the sandwiches are weighed, then they are on the small side IMO. I mean it's a deli sandwich, it should be piled high, not sparse... Regarding the meat cutter... I've only personally seen young people there when I've gone in my last 5 visits (at least) and I don't imagine any of them are old enough to be a professional yet... but who knows

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Either way -- of course its all about ones personal opinion... and everyone has a different one :)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although I don’t have a laundry list of critiques for Caplansky’s I will say that I agree with duckdown regarding their sandwich size. To me they are a bit small. I realize they can’t give away all the profit, I understand that, but there are certain things that MUST be in abundance when served to paying customers. Smoked Meat is one of them. I actually think that ‘fresser’ size should be the normal size, not the pig-out, costlier extravagance it is considered. To me, when I have a smoked meat sandwich, I want a sandwich goddammit. Not something finished in 5 bites or whatever. I want that bad boy piled high. I do wish they were a little bigger at Caplansky’s. Not much else I can offer feedback on as I think they are doing most things so very well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The base size is 7 oz of meat, which is more than ample for most normal appetites. I suspect most of us don't have anything approaching normal appetites, but that's another matter entirely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you very thinly machine slice something like Lester's, and know how to stack and fold it, the sandwich can be much thicker while containing no more (and possibly less) meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are many tricks to increase the apparent size of a sandwich. At Subway, the trick is in how they slice the bread. It's amazing how little meat they put into a 12 inch sub.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, I know about the tricks and smoke and mirrors done on smoked meat sandwiches to make them appear bigger than they really are (though that’s interesting about Subway…). I’ve thought of that in terms of Caplansky’s, about how that’s not really done there. Which is fine, I mean, that sandwich is its own thing. Doesn’t really need to be piled in a clever way to make it look like more than it is. Seems like Montreal and New York delis have that convention covered so it’s cool that Caplansky’s does it differently. I respect that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Still, they do seem a bit small. If they are standard portion sizes somehow they don’t seem it. To me deli is about abundance, or at least the illusion of abundance. It would be nice to have meat falling on to my plate because there is no room for it in the sandwich. That has not happened to me yet at Caplansky’s. Maybe I've just been unlucky, who knows. I was thinking of ordering the fresser next time I’m there to find that particular brand of joy, but really, it kind of sucks having to pay more just to have a shot at eating deli as I feel it should be enjoyed. I don’t know, might just be me. I like pastrami, corned beef, and smoked meat to be falling on my wrist!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I mean this feedback in a good way, constructively. And I only speak for myself. Others I’m sure totally will disagree and are happy with the size of the sandwiches there. I can chalk it up to being a growing boy or a pig, but really, I think it’s more than that. It’s about a connection people have with deli. A big part of that, for me at least, is meat falling out of the sandwich!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I find the sandwich at Caplansky's probably has less meat than at Schwartz's, but I can only finish half a sandwich if I order fries as well so it's not really a big deal to me; I always share with someone else. I'm pretty satisfied with the serving size!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tjr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Half a sandwich?! I can do that before the wicker basket hits the table!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tjr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oh come on... half a sandwich?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree completely :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well written

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm serious! I usually split the entire combo with someone else, and find that to be enough (at lunch). I have a small appetite though; I also hate to see food being wasted, and end up feeling sick because I'll eat whatever happens to be left on the plate instead of letting it get thrown out. After a sandwich at Schwartz's, with no sides, I usually get the meat sweats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tjr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Haha, the meat sweats. I love it. Nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't mind the smaller portion size. I could never finish a proper pastrami sandwich at Katz (LES) or 2nd Ave Deli. There is way too much meat in there, I always split it w/ a person.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The sandwich + fries combo is a perfect serving size for me. Anything beyond would be gluttony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: aser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah mate, that`s exactly the point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I suspect the professional referred to above is Heshy, a retired butcher - he ran a thriving butcher shop at Bathurst and Steeles for decades before turning it over to his sons recently - who ordinarily turns up most weekdays around lunch time to cut the meat from 11 to 3. Which is why I only turn up at Caplansky's for lunch, never dinner, when you take your chances with whichever rookie is on the the cutting board. But Heshy takes most of the summer off, fishing Lake Superior, which will leave me taking my chances with his lunchtime replacement. To keep his svelte figure, Heshy wisely doesn't often indulge in smoked meat sandwiches, but I like to think he's enough of a pro not to throw away the fat when customers are screaming for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I only know all this because Heshy and I go way back, as fellow teen club members in Toronto. Though ostensibly retired, he seems to enjoy the part time action at Caplansky's, and the fun of being part of a fledgling enterprise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: juno

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Nope, Heshy is seriously programmed to discard fat. I've argued with him and discussed it with Zane, who I believe has also discussed it with him - often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Actually, the young woman who cut meat at the beginning, who is (really) a vegan rocket scientist, didn't do a bad job, all things considered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some of them are borderline hopeless, but Toronto isn't exactly overflowing with pro brisket cutters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Throw away the fat?! Jesus. That scares me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You're right that the turnover in staff is disconcerting. However, my experiences recently have been really good. Some of the sub-par sandwiches I had were when Zane was in the kitchen (sorry Zane). But overall, he's still batting .750 for me in terms of sandwich quality, whether he's there or not. I order it medium fat now, and I get it mostly on the fat side, which I don't mind. I've probably had 15 sandwiches. I've only had two bad ones. One time, way too salty, the other time, the cure hadn't properly penetrated the meat so it was grey in the middle plus it was cold. Rest of the time it ranges from pretty good to amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I hardly ever have the fries straight up, mostly in poutine form. The poutine I'm not in love with, I just order it because it's poutine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Regarding the location (i.e. the bartender's comments), we disagree on that one, but in the end it won't matter since he's moving. So, what's the rest of the story. Dope, woman running out, I'm hooked to the storyline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My problem, if you can call it that, is that i'm on a bit of a California veal kick right now. So I need to find someone to go with who will do the split with me. My wife can't eat half a veal plus half a smoked meat. My brother was in town a while back, that helped.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lastly, I'm glad he doesn't default to his own mustard anymore. I respect the craft made stuff, but my sandwich, my choice of mustard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          lol, by dope and woman i was using the most positive terms i could think of.... think more along the lines of blow and hookers... not that i would care necessarily but i was with my little brother ...he doesnt need to hear that stuff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          california veals... i kept getting gristly ones so i havent had one in a while...maybe i should give it another shot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i forgot about the mustard thing... last time i got a sandwich for take out, it came with none at all... i like the house mustard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is, shall we say, a "known issue".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Call me crazy but what is wrong with having leftovers the next day? OK, Caplansky sandwich is better eaten right away, but the California Veal? It is unbelievably good the next day. I always eat half for dinner, and the other half the next day for lunch!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              why do i keep getting gristly ones?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Because years ago they changed from using quality meat to the cheapest veal they could find! And people still go for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pizza Lover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  figures... i havent had a great veal from there in a long time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. re: Riverdaleguy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As much as I hate to feed a troll...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have not had a bad sandwich at Caplansky's. Even when I ordered it medium, it was good (but fatty is decidedly better). Thin-sliced, never dry. Wonderful meat, and the last time I was there the over-saltiness that some have complained about in the past was definitely corrected. I can't even FATHOM how someone could say that meat isn't flavorful. I was tasting my last sandwich for the rest of the day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The pickle...is a good pickle. Not my personal favorite, but good. But it is small. I think that's what the comment is about. Being a pickle fiend, I would love to see two pickles on my plate. If I'm not rationing carefully, I run out of pickle halfway through my sandwich, and that makes me sad. But I just can't bring myself to order a side of just pickles to get me through.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I will say the fry complaints aren't limited to this post and may have some merit. The first time I had the fries, I thought all of the praise heaped upon them was deserved. Crispy, well-salted - I love the kosher salt, and it was applied with enough restraint that it wasn't overkill. But when I was there a couple of weeks ago, they were kind of overdone and limp. I'm nitpicking here - I had no problem eating them, but they weren't what they could be, and I could see how if it were someone's first time, they would think the 'hounds were full of crap. That being said, good luck finding takeout fries that don't end up soggy by the time you get them home. Even at McDonald's I eat my fries en route.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That being said, Riverdaleguy, enjoy your Corned Beef House. That leaves a seat for me at the Monarch. BTW, LOVE it when people even pan the items they didn't even open. Classy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Okay, time for me to jump in here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I first have to point out that I've only ever had a few Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches in my life. Two of them were from Druxy's and Costco so needless to say, I'm not expert. Sometimes that's not a bad thing though. I'm a clean slate more or less.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I tried Jody's Montreal Deli for lunch today. I have to admit, I loved it. Never having a had a MSM in Montreal, It's impossible for me to compare. What I did find was a very tender, moist and delicious sandwich. It was sliced on a slicer but was sliced thicker than I'd expected which I liked. I've never had a hand cut deli sandwich so I don't know what the difference is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The pickle spear was great too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is the same place that I've seen mentioned on here as Jody's Deli and Sundaes but there didn't seem to be a sundae spot. Nor a Jody. It was an older man and he seemed to be the owner (or manager). Anyway, he told me that he buys the briskets in Alberta and has them smoked in Quebec according to his recipe (by a little old Jewish man no less).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Whether any of this is true I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Due to a computer problem my bank card wouldn't work so I was given lunch gratis. I do owe a return trip for that. I'll try the pastrami next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There was one other customer who told me it was very good too. His pick for best in the city though is Wolfie's at Bathurst and Sheppard. With Jody's fresh in my mind, I may try to make it up there tomorrow for lunch. Does anyone know what time it opens??


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The place was the location of a long established takeout owned by a Jody. I'm not sure, but I think it was a pizza place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There is no Jody now - he just kept the name. He was going to sell ice cream sundaes in the summer, but I never saw any when I was there. It's the best you'll find in that part of town, and a satisfying sandwich, but hardly the "real" experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm skeptical about his "buy in Alberta...smoke in Quebec...his own recipe" story. Anything is possible, but I suspect it's just Lester's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have posted about Jody's earlier in this thread. I've also posted about Wolfies, several times, earlier in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep, read those posts. I was more commenting on Jody's not really being anything like what has been posted above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Perhaps you could pay him a visit and quiz him on "HIS" briskets. You know much more than I.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Pizza joint is next door. Pizzaiaolo or whatever they're called.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wolfies is open 9am-5pm weekdays. Closed Saturdays.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've been told that expansion of the restaurant and hours is being considered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In my neighbourhood I go to Wolfies for smoked meat and Pancers for pastrami.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wolfies website: http://mywolfies.com/index.html

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. I tried Wolfies for lunch today and was rather impressed. I would expect a bit more smokiness to is as it had basically none. I'm not sure what it's supposed to taste like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I had a sample at a place called Zingerman's in Ann Arbor last week and it was smoky but did not have a flavour other than the smoke.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What you had was from Lester's, the major industrial processor. The regular version cures within a day and is exposed to little, if any, actual smoke. The "old fashioned" version has a little more flavour. These are "authentic", but hardly great. You'll get this brand of smoked meat at Centre St (properly sliced), at Corned Beef House, at Jody's, and at Peter's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My wife, who isn't a deli maven and simply indulges my habit, describes this type of MSM as having a taste and chew identical to that of a low end supermarket ham. However, the steaming and cutting do affect the taste and texture of the sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Odd that it's the same meat as Jody's. It tasted a bit more intense. Maybe it was just me.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Embee: You keep posting this misinformation. The Old Fashioned MSM at Centre Street is produced for them at Lesters but using their own recipe. The MSM at CSD is only available at Centre Street and Deli Snowdon in Montreal. Those sold at Wolfie's, CBH and Jody's are likely Lester's Old Fashioned, but they could be proprietary recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry OTFOODIE, but we'll just have to agree to disagree. I don't notice anything distinctive about Centre Street's regular smoked meat. As to the old fashioned, I certainly don't pretend to have any inside information. I used to describe Centre St and Snowdon as selling the same thing, but I don't any more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I haven't eaten at Snowdon in a very long time. If you look at pictures (e.g., on roadfood.com), you'll notice that their meat looks quite different from Centre Street's. The colour is much darker and the slices don't appear nearly as denatured. Of course, that's just a picture, so I encourage anyone who has recently eaten at both to comment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I tried to check the Snowdon website today, but it appears that their website has been hijacked. It doesn't show up on Google (though many reviews certainly do) and the URL returns an obviously hacked page.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The last time I looked at Snowdon's menu, they did not sell pork. Forget bacon & eggs, where you know what you are getting when you order. if you order "stuffed chicken" at Centre St, you get a Lester's pork bologna sandwich. And they DO NOT TELL YOU. So why assume that they are serving the same smoked meat?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I never said anything about their regular smoked meat; I was commenting only on their old fashioned. I have had the old fashioned at the Snowdon within the past few years and it is the same. (The Snowdon sandwiches are not as thick, but they are also less costly.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After you posted the claim many months ago that CSD old fashioned MSM was merely standard Lesters, the same as sold at Wolfie's, I asked Sam and he adamant that Lesters uses a recipe unique to CSD and Snowdon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Then I clearly must cede this point to you. I have recently found the taste of the old fashioned significantly less distinctive than many years ago. I like some of Centre Street's own deli style cooking, but am not thrilled by the deli meats themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To lessen any confusion for the uninitiated, I need to clarify my point further. As far as I know, only Centre St and Wolfie's carry "old fashioned". However, if you don't specifically order old fashioned, you'll get the same "regular" MSM at all of the places I mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I haven't eaten at Wolfie's in many years and have no plans to do so again (see earlier postings here). If anyone wants to sample the old fashioned (hand cut) from Wolfie's and Centre St head to head, please post your experience here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I get to Centre St relatively rarely and, on my most recent visits, neither Cheryl nor Sam has been in the house. (When I asked at the counter about the "stuffed chicken", all I got was a shrug.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The crumbling parking lot in front of Wolfies was re-paved last week. Looks just a little less decrepit now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's the same thing at the Snowdon Deli in Montreal. If you don't specify, you get their regular MSM. I'm not sure of Snowdon Deli's current supplier of smoked meat, but I know it's made according to their specs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BLM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I dropped by the other day and asked Sam's son about their meat. The Old Fashioned is made by Lester's using a CSD/Snowdon recipe and that meat is not sold elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BLM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Snowdon is amazingggggg, i live in toronto, but if i could find a place like that here i would be eating lunch there everyday! I will be trying this smoked meat out though neways...let's hope its good.