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Oct 12, 2008 11:26 AM

The joy that is potato knish...

I have a new Sunday morning must do!

I stopped by Cheskies early this morning to pick up some victuals. I saw a pile of potato knishes. Now potato knishes are a major comfort food for me, and no matter how busy, stressed or not-feeling-like-eating I get, I can always force down a potato knish. Mashed potato in a pastry shell? How can you not like this??

So I asked for 1/2 a dozen, and the nice lady ignored the pile of knishes and went back to the baking area, returning with 6 piping hot fresh out of the oven knishes. I couldn't resist, I had to have one right away. It was inhaled within seconds. I have never felt more like a vacuum cleaner in my life. YUM! Soft, pastry shell, hot, smooth mash potato filling, toasted sesame seeds adding a subtle nutty accent. A perfect food to eat on a cool sunny autumn morning!

I have never had the pleasure of eating a warm fresh knish. My love of knish is based on cold, older knish. So you can imagine that this experience was truly eye and stomach opening. This thing is so yummy, it would be worth lurking around Cheskies on a Sunday morning just to have a chance to try this knish fresh out of the oven.

Reminder, Cheskies is closed on Saturdays.

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  1. Funny, I stumbled onto these same knishes at Cheskie's for the first time this very morning! I wonder if they're a new addition to their menu. Have to say, I was not as impressed as you were. I bought three of 'em and by the second one, I was detecting a weird fishy taste - not unpleasant, mind you, but it got me thinking about why there isn't a potato-lox-onion variety of knishes. :-) I also found the dough to be a bit on the tasteless side - in retrospect kinda wish I'd just gotten a babka instead.

    That said: anyone looking for the BEST potato knishes in the MTL area must venture north, to the Dirty Bakery* in Chomedey (Laval). Their knishes are huge, like flattened baseballs. The dough is flaky and crispy, the potato filling is perfectly creamy, and each bite is redolent of silky fried onions. I have been known to buy a baker's dozen intending to freeze 'em and eat them over an extended period, but they never make it into the freezer...too damn addictive!

    *This place is on Samson between the 13 and Curé-Labelle. Don't ask me for their real name, everyone I know has always just called it the Dirty Bakery!

    7 Replies
    1. re: anachemia

      I heard somewhere (maybe here?) that the Dirty Bakery will be opening a second outlet - anyone have more info on that, such as where and when?

      I love knishes but haven't had a great one in a long time. Will have to check out both Cheskies and the DB, either in its current or new digs!

      1. re: kpzoo

        Yeah, I heard something about that too! But my impression was that one of their long-standing bakers is going out on his own, hoping to find a good space in Montreal. It's not necessarily going to be a second DB outlet, though I sure hope they have knishes like the original...

        1. re: anachemia

          I like DB's stuff too, and I get the knishes and chocolate danish/babka at the Solly's on Westminster.

      2. re: anachemia

        I'm willing to try this knish! You wouldn't happen to know when they make them hot?

        1. re: anachemia

          I've noticed the faint fishy taste sometimes, too. Wonder if they use canola oil.

          1. re: anachemia

            Chomedey Best Quality Bakery Co Ltd officially :)

            1. re: anachemia

              Potato knish stalker reporting back here.

              Anachemia, thanks to the generosity of a kind friend who happened to be in the area and was able to purchase some of the Dirty Bakery Knishes for me, I was able to do a side by side taste test of the Dirty Bakery potato knish (DBPK) and the Cheskies potato knish (CPK). It was a fine breakfast! Both knishes were heated up in a toaster oven, I think this is the ideal way to eat knish if you can't get them fresh out of the oven.

              I can see why you feel the dough on the CPK is tasteless. There is much less potato filling on the CPK, and the dough becomes much more prominent in the flavour profile. The dough on the DBPK is not much more flavourful, but I think because there is so much more potato filling, it seems more flavourful. Tasting the dough alone from the DBPK, it was not more flavourful than the CPK. Both doughs are nice and flaky. I have no real preference on the dough. So I think your beef is with the amount of filling.

              Re: fishy taste. I did not detect a significant fishy taste in the CPK, but I did detect a certain prominence of oilyness in this knish that could be perceived as "fishy". The oil was present in a way that salmon skin is oily, but without the fishy taste. I could see how this oilyness could be off-putting. Certainly the DBPK was less obviously oily, which I would agree is a plus.

              The potato filling is very different in the two knishes! The DBPK filling is very creamy, and I agree that the flavour of the fried onions is lovely. But I do find the filling much sweeter than the CPK, perhaps from the caramelized fried onions. The filling in the CPK has more pure potato taste, which I like a lot. I found the sweetness of the DBPK a bit distracting after a while.

              Both knishes are excellent, I think it is just a preference thing. I'll happily eat both.

              I would comment that heating the CPK made a nice improvement in the knish, it is better heating it up than eating it cold. The DBPK was quite yummy eaten cold as well as hot.

              For those of you who are knish fans, I do recommend you try the ones at Eden, even though knish aren't really a Korean thing. These are very yummy potato knishes, even cold!

            2. Cheskies' staff will often go to the back for fresh-from-the-oven knishes. I've almost always got them mid-week, when I've been in the 'hood to pick up fresh-from-the-Mediterranean fish at Nouveau Falero. If I recall correctly, they're usually available around 10:30 or 11 a.m. I like them, but they're not what I think of as a classic knish.

              1. moh, I read the post without looking at whom it was by, until the end; I could not help but smile when I realized that it was you ! What type of pastry is it under the mashed potato?

                17 Replies
                1. re: souschef

                  The pastry is wrapped around the potato filling, and the filling peeps out at each end. I think they must make a big roll of dough, put a line of potato filling, roll the dough around the potato to form a cylinder of dough/filling and then cut into 2 inch pieces. The pastry itself is a fairly simple thing, it is not puff pastry, it is a flour based shell, maybe with egg, maybe not. It is simple, but comforting.

                  As for the slightly fishy smell, I had not noticed, but then I am not someone who is very sensitive to canola fishy smell. And for tasteless dough, well, I could certainly see Anachemia's point. But I don't expect loads of flavour from the dough, I don't want to lose the potato filling flavour, in itself a subtle thing. I don't mind the subtlety of this knish, it is part of the comforting charm. If I want something with more impact, I'll eat some more kimchi!! After a couple of weeks of chili/kimchi overload, a hot potato knish is a welcome change.

                  1. re: moh

                    moh, I have trouble with the concept of mashed potato in pastry. I love mashed potato (especially when it has been put through a food mill instead of a hand masher), but it just seems to me that mashed potato in pastry would be, bland. Where does the taste come from? Do the sesame seeds add sufficient flavour?

                    1. re: souschef

                      i don't know about cheskies, but my grandmother adds chicken fat to her knishes

                        1. re: souschef

                          they're often oniony and peppery.. you have to be a potato fan and just go with it, souschef.

                          1. re: souschef

                            Souschef, I think Celfie, Kpzoo and C70 have addressed this issue well. And as another food lover stated, it is comfort food you can put in your pocket. Although some might find it bland, a good potato knish should be subtly flavoured. It is the essence of all good things potato.

                            1. re: moh

                              Not to sound like the curmudgeon that I am, but I'm anxious to try Cheskie's knishes, as I've found that the general availability of great knishes in Montreal has really fallen off over the past 30 years or so.
                              Years back, Cantor's and Brown Derby had great knishes, as did the old Maxie in the Van Horne Shopping Center, and Chenoy's totally ruled in the old days.
                              Now, FDB in Cote St. Luc has pretty good ones, and so does Snowdon, but it kind of ends there. Sadly, potato knishes are truly the kings of "mushy brown Jew food", as I like to say. Kasha knishes are also an old favourite, but very hard to find today.
                              I haven't had dirty bakery knishes in years, but just might get some today, along with mun strudel, of course, on the way back from Ivan the Apple.

                              1. re: bomobob

                                Kasha - now *that's* bland. ;-)

                                What's Ivan the Apple?

                                1. re: kpzoo

                                  Ivan the Apple, actually known as Yvan des Pommes, in St. Joseph du Lac. Pretty much THE place to buy apples, apple jelly, pickled vegetables, etc, as well as apple pie that's second only to my wife's. A distant second.

                                  1. re: kpzoo

                                    I beg to differ - kasha knishes are truly a thing of beauty, not bland at all. If properly made (at least, the type I grew up with), they should be quite peppery, with a flaky pastry dough encasing them. While some people's parents bring veritable Korean grocery stores with them when they come visit from Winnipeg (and yes, I am envious), mine bring kasha knishes...

                                    1. re: cherylmtl

                                      Hear hear! Kasha Knishes are indeed a delicious treat. But it has been years since I've had a good one. I haven't seen them here in Montreal. I do recall having pretty good ones from Cousins in Winnipeg.

                                      1. re: cherylmtl

                                        I was referring to kasha, not kasha knishes. :-) At least how my extended family used to prepare it. Bland, bland, bland.

                                        Not that all bland Jewish food is unpleasant - I love party sandwiches, major comfort food for me. But a big pile of plain brown kasha - not so much.

                                    2. re: bomobob

                                      Sigh, I used to work at Cantor's in the summers and they had great knishes : potato, spinach and my favorite (although untraditional) pizza!
                                      BTW Maxie was also owned by the Cantor family.

                                      1. re: hungryann

                                        Why the sigh, hungryann? Cantor's is still around - they have an outlet at the Gare Centrale (Bonaventure) that I visited long ago. Their stuff was not bad...

                                      2. re: bomobob

                                        Hey everybody! I was just at Solly's in Cote St. Luc (Westminster corner Mackle) and lo and behold, they are now carrying Dirty Bakery knishes! They had potato, veggie, spinach, and kasha, not to mention their danishes and some other sweet stuff.

                                        They apparently drop them off par-baked and finish the job on-site, which was confirmed by the freshness and flaky goodness of the potato knishes I bought.

                                        It may not be so centrally located, though it is closer for most of us than a schlep up to Chomedey. (Plus, bus 161 stops a block away at Kildare, in case that helps.)

                                      3. re: moh

                                        Okay moh, I should try this for myself. I am always open to new food.

                                2. So I purchased some potato knishes from Cheskies that were not hot out of the oven, and I still like them, but they are not mind-blowing knishes. They really are at their best hot out of the oven. I'll eat them and be content, but I am not going to g o out of my way to buy them. I shall continue lurking when I see them hot!

                                  I also quite like the potato knish at Eden, the grocery store above metro in the Gallerie du Parc. They must outsource them. They are very tasty even when cold.

                                  I shall clearly have to check out the dirty bakery. Oh that which is a lovely potato knish!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: moh

                                    "I shall continue lurking when I see them hot! "

                                    moh - the potato knish stalker :)

                                  2. All this banter about knishes, and no one has mentioned Kosher Quality on Victoria??

                                    i have not been by in some time, but their Mushroom Knishes were awesome. The rest were pretty good too.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: fedelst1

                                      Kosher Quality potato knishes are indeed yummy. Hmm it has been a while...

                                      And it'll be easier now that the holidays are over. I once sent in the hubbie to buy challah on the day of Rosh Hashanah. Not the best plan. He was quite traumatized by the mass of bubbies waiting impatiently for their challah. But fortunately, there was more than enough to go around.

                                      1. re: moh

                                        Hahaha...brings back visions of the babka fight in that one Seinfeld episode. :-)

                                        Thanks for takin' one for the team, Moh, and reporting back on the results of your taste test. It is true, the DB knishes are sweet - in fact, sweeter than I remember them being years ago. I'm such a fried onion addict, I tend to forgive this minor sin...but they could probably stand to tone it down about 10%.

                                        To be fair, I did scarf the Cheskie's one cold, which did not exactly level the playing field...maybe I'll give 'em another chance, next time I'm there knocking over some bubbies to get to that babka...

                                        1. re: anachemia

                                          Anachemia, I owe you a big thank you for pointing out the existence of the babka! When I went in for the second batch of knishes, I saw this very fresh looking chocolate pastry. Upon inquiring, they said it was the babka. I remembered you mentioning this item in your post, and so I got some. WOW! so rich and chocolate-y! I''d be happy to be your wingman when you knock over the bubbies to get to the babka...