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Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

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Hi Again: I'm getting a craving for my old faithful slice of Montreal Cheesecake. I'll describe it for those in the dark. The base of the cake is similar to New York cheesecake (creamy, a little sweet and Freaking THICK), however, it's about 10 inches high, it has slightly candied nuts surrounding the entire side of the cake and has fresh strawberries with sweet strawberry gellee on top. As far as I know, this type of cheesecake is unique to Montreal deli's (Dunn's five locations, former Ben's, mom+pop deli's, and Chenoy's restaurants across the city and outskirts). I have a pic from the Dunn's (Montreal) website for reference:

http://www.dunnsfamous.com/en_menu_de...

Does anyone know if the Dunn's downtown Toronto has the Montreal cheesecake? And a better question is - does anyone know if this place is still in business? (Their smoked meat wasn't served properly and the service was lousy a few years ago when I went there before heading out to the theatre - wasn't interested in dessert).

I'm hoping to find a similar cheesecake in central Toronto. I tried many "New York cheesecakes" and suffice it to say that most were awful and no-where close to either Montreal or NY cheesecake.

The closest plain cheesecake base that I have found is "Baker's Oven" brand, found in most supermarkets - It is actually closer Montreal or NY cheesecake base than any fresh baked cheesecake that I've found here. I actually like it very much. I'm just looking for a place to hang out and order a $7 mammoth slice with the topping etc... like the good old days in Mtl.

Finally, to all restauranteurs and bakeries, if you're going to serve diet cheesecake, please put it in BOLD writing and tell the customer "it's Toronto's best DIET CHEESECAKE". I must have had three vendors in the city who, while telling me how phenomenal their cheesecakes are, omitted to tell me that they used a low-calory, diet recipe (which completely defeats the purpose to eat it). While I swallow the disgusting bite of white slop, they tell me "and it's only 100 calories per slice".

"Diet Cheesecake" is an oxymoron!!!

Thanks for helping chowhounders.

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  1. Best cheesecakes overall: Carole's (near Castlefield & Caledonia). They range from great to poor, but most are at least good. There are a couple of dozen styles. I don't know whether they make the style you crave. The product list is at http://www.carolescheesecake.com/prod...

    There's a small selection available at some Loblaw's and they are sold by some restaurants. Bottom crusts are sometimes underbaked. Good Jewish style soups also. They make a delicious, rich diet cheesecake, but the catch is that the diet aspect is only valid for an ultra low carb diet.

    Dufflet also makes some good cheesecakes - most available only at Dufflet retail outlets and many only by special order. www.dufflet.com

    LaRocca makes cakes that look like the ones in your photo. I don't know whether any of them are cheesecakes. Widely available.

    Best supermarket NY style cheesecake: the frozen PC version at Loblaw's - usually in the bakery freezer. Read the labels carefully - it's in a box with fancy graphics and is fairly large. This is the only supermarket cake that tastes like a real NY cheesecake to my palate, though I find it too sweet.

    Bibiche on Danforth makes wonderful cheesecakes, though they are neither NY nor Montreal in style. You need to call in advance to discuss variety - typically the only one offered daily is a banana caramel flavour.

    Dunn's on King has no connection with the Dunn's that operate in the Montreal area. No, they have not improved. I've no idea about their cakes.

    10 Replies
    1. re: embee

      Thanks Embee. I'll check out these places. I've never tried the PC brand - how does it compare with the plain Baker's Oven brand? (I first bought it on a whim because it was on sale and it blew me away :) I couldn't believe that a $5 frozen cheesecake could satisfy me !!! and I'm very fussy with authenticity, quality and taste etc...

      1. re: montrealer70

        I added the Carole's and Dufflet websites to the post above.

        Baker's Oven is a Dominion brand, but every chain sells the identical cakes under some or other label. I think they are decent, and there's no way you could make a similar cake yourself for five bucks.

        The PC cake I'm describing is a true NY style cheesecake. The ones you refer to are not, though you might very well like them better.

        One thing that's obvious from your Dunn's link: our tastes in cheesecake are very different.

        1. re: embee

          Embee, I'll confirm or reject your suspicion after I try the PC cheesecake. I tried Star, Sara Lee and Baker's oven, and out of the three, only Baker's oven is edible. And you're exactly right. For $5, it would cost me more for the ingredients than to buy their cake which is "very good" cheesecake. If memory serves, I believe I saw the PC cake a couple of times but opted out because of the gourmet price for a grocery store cheesecake!!! You vouch for it so I'm getting it this week. As for the one that I pictured for you, it's the version of cheesecake that I grew up with so of course, I'm partial to the sweet nuts surrounding the cake and strawberry as opposed to cherry or blueberry on top. I prefer plain cheesecake over "pie filling" topping that I noticed is quite common outside of Montreal. I'm focussing on the PC one for now because in the near future, I won't have time to shop to gourmet bakeries - although I'm referencing this post with your info. By the way Embee, why haven't you written a book yet on "how to eat in Toronto"? You're awesome.

          1. re: montrealer70

            The specific cake is at:
            www.presidentschoice.ca/FoodAndRecipe...

            1. re: embee

              Embee, it looks good but I have to taste it. I'm a little surprised that in your 3 years in Montreal, you never tried a slice of cheesecake from Chenoy's at 3 A.M. (it's a tradition) !!! Plus you were around the right age to be swinging at those hours!!

              1. re: montrealer70

                Because there was no Chenoy's for starters. I've never eaten there and only heard of them recently (and typically not in a good way).

                In my Montreal era, before your birth, there was Miss Montreal, Pumpernick's, and the delis. Of the delis, only the Brown Derby had good baking, but it was mainly of a European style rather than one of USA-derived excess. I still remember their Hungarian derived chocolate & whipped cream squares.

                I don't recall any wondrous cheesecakes from Jewish style bakeries. Indeed, the best bakeries were almost all French. (Cantor's was considered quite good - at least the stores that baked onsite - and there was a place called RBI Richstone that sold cakes for 29 cents. Neither exactly wowed.)

                There was a restaurant on Stanley called Pam Pam that had incredible Mittel European tortes, but they didn't do cheesecakes.

                I never liked the overwrought cheesecakes that you are craving. My exemplars are the Lindy's (defunct in the 1960s - not the current place with that name) style, which had a shortbread crust, much heavy cream, and sour cream, and the Junior's style, which is almost pure cream cheese. I liked both absolutely plain, with no gunk on top and no extraneous flavourings. Junior's sells a huge variety of cheesecakes on the net, but I only like the plain one.

                There are credible recipes available for the Junior's and Lindy's cakes. Junior's revealed all in a cookbook and some internet recipes for both are fairly accurate.

                For cheesecakes with "stuff", I'm partial to a style you'll find in a cookbook called "Mother Wonderful's Cheesecakes", which have a
                flavoured base and a baked sour cream topping. This is another, significantly different, cheesecake style.

                If you want to do something REALLY useful, find the original recipe for Ebinger's chocolate blackout cake (Brooklyn, circa 1940 - 1972). People - hundreds of thousands of us still living - would kill for this cake.

                1. re: embee

                  Yeah embee, you're right, Chenoy's may have opened around 1970 and hadn't made its mark yet when you arrived and left. Until mid-eighties, it was the best greasy-spoon diner around, plus 24 hours. By the mid-80's and on, the city decided that there were better places to go for similar food - except between midnight and 5 am - when the place was packed on a nightly basis (it became the best 12-5 am restaurant in the city).

                  To be honest, you say you've heard bad things about it - if Chenoy's opened in Toronto, it would be the best diner in the city (plus the ony one that's open 24-hours - which violates Toronto's unwritten curfew of 10 pm).

                  I have a personal connection to Miss Montreal, it's funny that you mention it. I also went to Pumpernicks and Brown Derby on a regular basis from birth !!!

                  It's too bad you never tried the cheesecake. You can't possibly say "it's not for you" without trying it. That's ridiculous.

                  1. re: montrealer70

                    I didn't say I've never tried this. I don't like it! I take my cheesecake straight. I don't want candied nuts or fruit jello. I don't like Junior's cherry cheesecake either.

              2. re: embee

                The PC NY Cheesecake is not what it used to be : it shrunk in size, though it still tastes the same as before. IMO, NY Cheesecake is more compact than the MTL one. Am I right?

                1. re: lamaranthe

                  NY cheesecake is generally more compact. Also, NY cheesecakes that are full of "stuff" are bastardizations. Real NY cheesecake is about the cheese.

                  I find the PC NY cheesecake too sweet. However, as of the last time I had it, it was definitely a genuine NY deli cheesecake.

                  According to the PC website, the cake weighs 1 KG. A KG of cream cheese (the NY style requires a cheese that contains gums, such as Philadelphia) costs much more than that cake. Does the box now contain a smaller cake?

      2. What is a Montreal cheesecake?
        After lengthy discussions on several Chowhound boards, I do not yet know what is different about Montreal bagels, poutine, steamies, or smoked meat. And now cheesecake enters the fray!

        4 Replies
        1. re: jayt90

          I tried to describe it. The cheesecake itself is NY style, plain white cheesecake, very, very thick. The cashe is that it's about 10 inches high, so they serve the slice sideways. The outside of the cake has delicate slightly candied nuts (think of it like a thin layer of pralines) - as opposed to cheesecakes in Toronto that sometimes coat the outside with graham. (I prefer plain over graham). Traditionally, it has a stawberry topping (not pie filling), but fresh strawberries and a sweet strawberry gelatin to glue the strawberries to the top of the cake. I posted a pic from Dunns-Montreal above.

          A Toronto version in a cake-house would be half the height, it would have graham on the outside and blueberry or cherry pie filling on top. Plus I can't forget, the cheesecake base here is about half as thick as a Montreal Deli Cheesecake (but similar taste).

          Jay, I have one consolation for you - after "Mike's Subs" and "Montreal style Szechuan", the list is pretty much done !!! :)

          1. re: montrealer70

            You forgot the pizza.

            1. re: montrealer70

              The height in the Dunn's photos appear to range from 3" to 6" (Chocolate topping.) The plain 3" one comes out of a standard 2" fluted pan, by appearance.

              Two to 4 inches is what I remember from Ratners, the Second Ave. Deli, and the 8th St. Deli, in my 8 years in Manhattan. Usually served with side-oriented slices. Perhaps the Montreal cheesecake gets greater height than we see here in GTA, with beaten egg whites, or a mousse beaten into it.

              I would be suspicious of any dessert with a glaze on top now, even if the berries are fresh. There are powdered commercial glaze products used by a large number of bakeries.

              1. re: jayt90

                Jay, there is no mousse in the cake. The picture is deceiving. The cake as a whole is about 20 times the size of the Baker's oven cake. If you put four of the PC cakes on top of each other than glaze the top, you have Montreal deli cheesecake.

                By the way, there are endless bakeries in the city that make all kinds of fou-fou cheesecakes, just like in Toronto, some with kumquats, some with peaches, all variations in the book, even diet ones. But the deli's all have this Monster cake, and it's been around for a good 40 years, despite embee's memory (which could go from time to time at his age).