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So I went to Caplansky's finally

and gave it a chance. I brought my own bread, rye with kimmel from Haymishe Bakery, and asked for the full fat.

Oy mores, oy tempores, oy deli in Toronto. But if you are young and not Jewish, what would you know anyway? So what 's the point in going on?

VVM

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  1. Where do you think it went wrong?

    1. Are you saying that you are young and not jewish and don't see a point in going?

      He is closed for passover, and "And to our gentile bretheren and sisteren a happy Easter." sounds like he might just fit the bill of a Slavic/Russian jew?

      You might not see the point in going to a deli (as many people seem to these days as it is a dying food market), but there is still a large enuf market for him to cater too who see's the point.

      18 Replies
      1. re: flying101

        I read it as though you wouldn't know a good sandwich if you're not old and Jewish.

        Brought your own bread? Hilarious.

        1. re: jamesm

          I went there for the first time on Saturday for lunch.

          I thought that the smoked meat was truly delicious.

          Sooooooooo very tasty.

          I took half of it home to eat later.

          My only complaint was the environs: the plethora of televisions playing football, and a fat-faced git at the bar shouting "Ennnnnnnngerland!" every so often.

          1. re: Non Doctor

            agreed, environment there is terrible... but the sandwiches are decent

            i preferred goldin's

            1. re: duckdown

              here we go again. I would love it if all the close-minded Monarch haters would just avoid the place rather than complain about it CONSTANTLY and let the rest of us just get on with enjoying our meal in a fun, unpretentious evironment.

              1. re: yoyodyne

                Agreed. I love being constantly reminded that I enjoy terrible environements.

                One of these days I really have to get out to one of these magical Jewish delis that serve a transcendental sandwich that cannot possibly be replicated elsewhere and enjoy it in a pristine and aesthetically satisfying environment that in no way challenges my delicate sensibilities. I just hope parking isn't a problem.

            2. re: jamesm

              i think that is has been very thoroughly and at length discussed that this is not your granddad's smoked meat. caplansky's is, very proudly, a toronto's own construct and that has been vehemently agreed upon. it's nice to know we're not trying to be any other city but ourselves with a place like caplansky's.

              but a post like this is very typical of the op.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                Bringing your own bread to a deli??? Kinda bizarre, no? And I'm a young(ish) Jew who knows a good smoked meat sandwich.

                1. re: acd123

                  never said bringing your own bread was or wasn't bizarre. depends on what your expectations of the product are as i feel your first time at a place you should eat it the way it's intended... if you truly feel that you can improve on it in a way that wouldn't be offensive then by all means... be a serious hound and bring your own bread.

                  but i think by bringing his own bread, it is quite clear what vvm was looking for and that he was not going to find it.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    Actually, it would be nice if Caplansky's offered the Harbord Bakery onion buns as an alternative. Especially for the larger helping.

                    1. re: Snarf

                      Actually, it would be nice if he just bought the Silverstein's unsliced, spritzed some water on the crust, baked it in a hot oven for a few minutes, and sliced it for each sandwich. Then, again, I've seen that kitchen.

                      He did have kimmel at one time, but it seems that few people wanted it. A kaiser, onion, or challah roll option would be nice.

                      1. re: embee

                        Went tonight and had probably the best experience yet. The meat was very smoky, reminds me of how it first was in July. Quite southern. Not dry at all, a little chewy but such is what sometimes happens if you have it fatty I guess. A minor note that didn’t bother me at all as the flavour and temperature were killer good. The kitchen smelled so smokily aromatic. The fries just keep getting better and better. And the service was warm and top of it always.

                        It was my first time eating at the Monarch at night; what a blast!! SUCH a good vibe. Great friendly staff, a real motley crew of customers from all walks of life. What a change from eating there during the day, which I also quite enjoy. A lot busier, not as many families as during the day. Still don't get how people find the Monarch dodgy. Quite laughable to me really. I've seen U of T bars that are dodgier than the Monarch. Makes me scratch my head. But to each their own. Personally, I hope he always keeps a location there. I love it. I love that my dad ate veal sandwiches there in the 70s and I’m doing the same many years later.

                        Keep up the tasty experiment, Caplansky’s. (Oh yeah, the San Fran veal and meatball sammos went down a real treat too). I'm pretty full now.

                        1. re: magic

                          I was there tonight as well. The brisket seems to be consistent now, not too salty. My fatty sandwich was very fatty, so I'll go back to medium next time in. The brisket was well cooked, succulent and balanced. Staffing was efficient and friendly; I didn't see Zane, but the kitchen was humming.

                          I had cabbage borscht for the first time, and I thought there was actually too much shredded meat for balance; the broth was sweetened somehow (sugar, I guess, or perhaps some of Zane's excellent cole slaw goes in.)
                          I'll try split pea next time although I suspect there will not be any pork or ham in it, and I'm a bit of a traditionalist.

                          The Monarch was busy, and there was a younger, more affluent crowd than the old days, when it was bleak and mostly empty. Let's hope things stay just as they are now. No fancy reno's and upscale movement, please.

                          1. re: jayt90

                            jayt90, I laughed when I read that, being a traditionalist, you'd want pork or ham in your split pea soup. In a Jewish household, a non-vegetarian split pea soup would traditionally be made with flanken (beef short ribs). Try it sometime -- it's delicious; you just might convert.

                            I suspect, however, that Zane probably puts shredded smoked meat in his.

                            1. re: Tatai

                              Both are pure comfort and good, but for me there's no contest. Flunken wins every time.

                            2. re: jayt90

                              I woulda said hi : )

                              (The kitchen staff were also very nice btw)

                              1. re: jayt90

                                Caplansky's Split Pea is quite good, I prefer it to the Borscht.

              2. So I've never heard of this place, and am now curious. (I live nearby)

                The real trouble is that as a former Montrealer, I feel kinda cheated when I get a smoked meat sandwich elsewhere -- at this point, I'll only order corned beef -- even in Montreal at somewhere like Snowdon Deli.

                I had corned beef at the corned beef house a month or so ago, and it was okay - aside from the fact that I waited an extra 20 minutes (on top of the 15 minute delay going to pick it up) for french fries.

                So.. will it compare --- if it doesn't compare - is it sufficiently delicious in its own right?

                9 Replies
                1. re: mikefly

                  You may love it - or not. Just don't go in expecting Montreal smoked meat.

                  I'm not absolutely sure, but I think the Corned Beef House probably sells the same corned beef as Snowdon, i.e., Lester's. However, Corned Beef House cuts thinly by machine and Snowdon thick and by hand.

                  1. re: embee

                    yeah -- corned beef it'll continue to be... oh well. I'll be in Montreal for Eastover, and am hoping to go to Alep and Schwartz's

                    I thought that deli's sliced cold meat by machine, and hot by hand.. or is this another montreal thing?

                    1. re: mikefly

                      There are two branches of Delidom, the machine slicers and hand-slicers. Unfortunately, they seldom speak to each other. I think you're right, in Southern Ontario they tend to machine slice & in Quebec it is hand-slicing. Growing up in Hamilton, I only encountered the machine slicers. (The deli run by Al Sax and Bill Cohen on Dundurn before it was torn down for "urban renewal" was my favorite). Even in Toronto, Wolfie's and most others were machine sliced places. I didn't try hand-sliced until I went to the Centre Street Deli for the first time, which shouldn't be surprising since it is somewhat of an off-shoot of Snowden.

                      I enjoy both types.

                      1. re: mikefly

                        It's a Montreal thing. The only places here cutting smoked meats by hand are Centre St. and Caplansky's. (Although I think you can ask for it -- and pay more -- at Pancer's.)

                      2. re: embee

                        The corned beef and MSM served at the Snowdon & Centre Street Deli is made by Lesters but it is a recipe used for only the CSD & Snowdon and not the Lester's that you get elsewhere. Both versions of each are very good, but it is a common misconception that they are the same.

                        1. re: OTFOODIE

                          I haven't been to Snowdon in a very long time, and can't comment about what they serve today.

                          There may have once been differences between Centre St and the Lester's sold elsewhere in the GTA. I don't think any meaningful differences exist now.

                          I wonder whether Snowdon, like Centre St, sells Lester's "stuffed chicken" made of pork? Snowdon didn't sell things like this when I lived in Montreal.

                          1. re: embee

                            I'll try to have a look next week when I'm in town... but my feeling is that SD doesn't sell any pork products at all --- the meat counter side seems almost kosher (but I'm sure it's not)

                        1. re: mikefly

                          It does not compare to montreal smoked meat but it is sufficiently delicious in its own right-I think pinstripe summed it up best in her post. I find montreal smoked meat to be more spicier than caplansky's but zane still makes a pretty damn fine sandwich, the meat when it is on can be juicy, flavourful and smoky on its own. And it's something I don't have to trek to far to being relatively downtown still.

                        2. I also went to Caplansky's after reading about all the fuss here, and I have mixed feelings about the place. My boyfriend ordered the smoked meat sandwich with medium fat, and he said it was very delicious...I had a bite, and I agree. However, the fries were awful! i ordered a smoked meat poutine, and I honestly thought it looked like vomit. I'm not one to worry about presentation of food (i know that some of the most delicious things look gross but taste amazing), but I feel like if something looks especially disgusting, then it should taste especially good to make up for it. It certainly did not taste good. The fries were awful! Even the fries on my boyfriend's plate were terrible. They were lukewarm and overdone...but even if they were cooked perfectly, I can't see these fries tasting any better. There was no semblance of these fries having any sort of redeeming quality. There just wasn't anything special about them. Plus, the poutine had hardly any cheese.

                          Whoever said this place doesn't look dodgy is blind. I can see how some think that this is part of this place's charm, but don't say it doesn't look dodgy. You're just misleading people.

                          I would return, but I'm definitely not ordering the fries again.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: focioncroci

                            Dodgy is very subjective. To me, it's a old school bar, showing some wear and tear. If you're from the suburbs and accustomed to Jack Astors or Red Lobster, whatever, you'll probably find the monarch dodgy. Actually, you don't have to be from the suburbs. Some people just like sterile environments.

                            To me, dodgy is a place where you feel unsafe or unclean. Neither apply to the Monarch.

                            Anyhow, I had a medium fatty today. Flavour was great, but fat content was light. Every brisket varies. Big crowd before a TFC game.

                            1. re: grandgourmand

                              {sigh} Can we all just agree to disagree on the whole "dodgy/sketchy" issue? Maybe I just have a different frame of reference since I went from college bars to a blue-collar Midwestern town to Scarborough, but I wasn't the least bit sketched out by the Monarch. I had a great, friendly waiter, good banter with the bartender, and, most importantly, a fantastic sandwich. I save the word dodgy for the panhandlers camped outside the LCBO and the people who scream at their own reflection on subway cars. Oh, and the Mormon missionaries who approach me in black coats as I walk home from the bus stop at 10:30 on a Friday night. The Monarch ain't fancy, but I'd rather go there for a sandwich and be able to have a beer with it than go to a bright, shiny, sterilized deli. {shrug} Count me among those that will be disappointed if he ever completely abandons that place, even though I could never blame him for doing so.

                              1. re: Wahooty

                                I just find it rather alarming what some people consider dodgy. I guess beauty and ugliness are in the eye of the beholder but believe you me I've seen dodgy and the Monarch just isn't in the same league as dodgy. As a wise man once said, “it ain’t even the same sport.” The day I start considering perfectly clean tables and cutlery, sweet and attentive service, College St. hipsters, families, grandparents, and affluent customers on Blackberrys dodgy will be a sad sad day for me that will send me running for the comfort and cleanliness that only Jack Astors and its ilk can provide.

                                Please. Enough with misrepresenting The Monarch as dirty. It's embarassing.

                                1. re: Wahooty

                                  Right with you, my friend. I've been going to the Monarch since I was an engineering undergrad in the late 70's. (Our schtick then was to talk up the veal sandwiches from San Francesca next door, wait until there was ZERO beer on the table, and then bring up sandwiches - triple hots for the newbies, whatever for the regulars.) We'd kill ourselves laughing as the newbies went seeking liquid anywhere. Anyone who thinks the Monarch is sketchy/edgy/dodgy really needs a severe head shake. Anyone from NYC/Detroit/LA would see the Monarch as "quaint" at the very most.

                                  You go Zane!

                                  1. re: KevinB

                                    I agree. Some of you would be missing out on some great artery-clogging treats is the Monarch was the standard for "I won;t go there". I can remember some of the great old Waterloo County inns that had some fantastic cooking and they were all as "dodgy" as the Monarch. The Heidelberg Haus is still there and I doubt they've renovated since I was a student, and they serve one of the best pock hocks you'll find.

                              2. re: focioncroci

                                It is hardly misleading to say the place isn't dodgy. In fact it's the reverse. Saying the place is dodgy suggests an element of danger or riskiness and that is absolutely categorically false and perpetuated by people with obviously narrow comfort zones.

                                There is nothing dangerous about the neighbourhood, or establishment itself. If you're going to toss around disparaging terms that negatively impact someone who is trying very hard to make a success from something they are passionate about than I suggest you at least familiarize yourself with the definition of those terms first.

                                1. re: jamesm

                                  "Old", sure. "Frayed around the edges", granted, "dodgy", no, for the excellent reasons you give.

                              3. After all the press & endorsements, I very much looked forward to Caplansky's on Clinton in Toronto. What a letdown. Only one sandwich on the menu. Smoked meat. No pastrami, no baby beef. OK. I can live with that, but if you’re only having one choice, let’s make it a good one. This was the driest, saltiest meat I’ve ever had. With lots of un-chewable gristle. Must have had the tail end of the brisket. And when I ask for “medium fat”, I don’t want big chunks of fat. The fat should be marbled through the meat. The fries are good but pre-salted. Service is very good. The kicker; I find out through the blogs that they have an amazing mustard. It wasn’t even offered. Go figure.

                                34 Replies
                                1. re: sharkey2008

                                  First off, you should understand the anatomy of a brisket. It has layers of fat, rather than marbling; it's not a grilling meat, after all -- it requires long, slow cooking.

                                  Secondly, the mustard would not have been offered. It already comes spread on the sandwich.

                                  Thirdly, a good cook knows that anything fried should be salted immediately after being removed from the fryer; in this way, the salt sticks to the fried item, instead of falling to the bottom of the dish.

                                  1. re: Tatai

                                    Actually, every time I've been there since Caplansky started serving his own mustard, he's also provided a pot of mustard to go with what was already spread on the bread... So, yes, the mustard would have been offered, particularly since Zane is apparently quite proud of it... Though, to be absolutely honest, I'm not sure why - it's rather bland.

                                    1. re: Tatai

                                      the mustard used to be spread on by default. but he's since changed to pick your own mustard, which I prefer.

                                      today's sandwich, which I also ordered medium fat, was on the lean side, actually. the thing about caplansky's is that you'll get a lot of variety in terms of experience. it's pretty much homemade, right?

                                      1. re: grandgourmand

                                        Yes, for sure. I haven't been in a little while, to be honest, so his "mustard policy" might have changed since I was there last. But one thing most people seem to agree on is that Caplansky's is inconsistent, at best. This is not the hallmark of a legendary smoked meat purveyor. IMO, if you get your brisket from the same source every time, and you cure it and smoke in the same way each time, then you should hope for some consistency in the final product. I myself have not found that at Caplansky's, and it is apparent that many others have not, as well. Why is this? Does anybody know?

                                        1. re: redearth

                                          He's changed his brisket supplier a few times, I believe.

                                          And he doesn't inject his brine. Brine injection would allow you more control over flavouring, plus do it faster.

                                          That, and each cow is different. I've not had 100% consistency at Schwartz's.

                                          1. re: grandgourmand

                                            Agreed. As much as I love Schwartz's it's definitely not close to 100% consistency. Plus they've been in business for 80+ years, and Caplansky's is not even a year old. I think a certain amount of slack and patience is needed for a work in progress. If you want artisnal and handcrafted you need to expect inconsistency. Even after 80 years. Let alone 1 year.

                                          2. re: redearth

                                            Remember, this place was started on an investment of almost nothing and hasn't even been open for a full year. It was swamped before the official opening, and well before Zane was ready. I suppose I'm at least partially to blame (along with David Sax) for that.

                                            Smoker problems led to changes in the type of smoker and the source of the smoke. Brisket issues (variously related to size, trim, and quality) caused him to change suppliers several times. The steamer is tiny and the kitchen is smaller than one in an average home.

                                            While I am very grateful to have Caplansky's, I've always been upfront about the food. I've had meat that was absolutely perfect and meat (though not lately) that wasn't cured all the way through. I'd like it spicier, but it's his recipe - not mine.

                                            The meat that is very consistent (e.g., Lester's) is cured by a rapid industrial injection process. Some smoked meat doesn't even get touched by real smoke (Mel's, where it is painted black).

                                            This meat is hand processed and dry cured using methods common a century ago. It should be more consistent than it is, but it will never be absolutely consistent. This is just as true of the meat at Schwartz.

                                            I wish I could get there more often :-(

                                            1. re: embee

                                              Are you sure about the suggestion that Mel's is 'painted'? I've always found the flavours honest, unenhanced and mid-tier. Very ethical, which aligns with the family's phenomenal efforts in the third world over the last 25+ years.

                                              1. re: Snarf

                                                I'm not sure what the owners have done for developing countries over the past 25 years, all I know is the few times I've been (and it's been ages since I was last dragged) the food wasn't very good. Which is putting it diplomatically.

                                                1. re: Snarf

                                                  The smoked meat served at Mel's is chemically injected, visibly and tactilely denatured, reeking of smoke flavouring, and coloured black.

                                                  What they've done for third world children has nothing to do with their smoked meat. I can't call it the absolute worst I've eaten, but it comes close. Obviously, your mileage varies :-)

                                              2. re: redearth

                                                I would call the smoked meat mildly inconsistent, and improved in February with a new smoker and a new brisket supplier meeting quantity and quality needs. The saltiness and uneven cure issues seem to be over. There are other places with very good consistency, but never the excitement in tasting.

                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                  Good to know, jayt90, and thank you, embee, for your very knowledgeable response. I didn't know that about Mel's - is this "painting" of the briskets common practice? I'll visit Caplansky's again in the near future, to be sure. I judge too harshly, sometimes...

                                                  1. re: redearth

                                                    It is common to use smoke flavouring in industrial meat processing. The "paint" is quite common in the supermarket deli case - most obviously on "Black Forest" hams.

                                                    I believe that the Lester's old fashioned served at Centre St is actually smoked, but the black colour on the surface can't be just natural spice and smoke.

                                                    I single out Mel's because they specialize in "genuine Montreal smoked meat imported from Montreal" and properly hand sliced. However, it tastes of chemicals and doesn't even have the texture of real meat.

                                                    BTW, I'm probably the harshest deli critic around. Caplansky revived a craft that was close to dead, but the first time I said my sandwich was perfect, I thought he'd fall off his chair.

                                                    I'm also watching Goldin with great interest, but that's for another day.

                                                    1. re: embee

                                                      Is the paint that you refer to something that's done at the Lester's level?

                                                      On another note, what's up with Goldin? Seem to have missed that place.

                                                      Back to Mel's, in response to your question, the family has been running a series of third world schools and orphanages for years. Doesn't affect the food, but it will make me keep going back when I'm there.

                                                      1. re: Snarf

                                                        Do a search for Goldin's on the Ontario board. Also, I recently posted a review of Goldin's meat... It is available only by pick-up or local delivery.

                                                        1. re: Snarf

                                                          I think you've mixed up magic's post with mine. I'm aware of the Simpson family's charitable interests and of their enormous adopted family. I just loathe their smoked meat.

                                                          As to the "paint", by which I mean a black substance applied to the meat surface to make it appear heavily smoked, this is a processor thing. They do not do this at the restaurant.

                                                          I don't know where they source their smoked meat - it isn't from Lester's. BTW, their karnatzel tastes okay.

                                                        2. re: embee

                                                          Now knowing you to be a deli aficionado, I have to ask: if you had to pick only one deli that you could return to for the rest of your days, which would it be, and why?

                                                          1. re: redearth

                                                            Who are you directing that to? Threads here are somewhat confusing to track.

                                                            From my own perspective, the bar was set early, when Shopsy's was on Spadina, and we'd get onion buns from the Harbord Bakery to serve the take-home on. Then came years in Montreal and the sublime late-night experiences on The Main, with everything from veal to the usuals on offer. It's not a cuisine I go to regularly, and I haven't found what compares to the past, but Centre Street, Pancer's, and the place in Mississauga were pretty close. Caplansky's is similar, but not comparable in a way that also sets itself aside as unique in a good way.

                                                            I'm puzzled why the Pickel Barrel tries so hard with its meat, but commits war crimes with its spuds.

                                                            1. re: Snarf

                                                              top right corner - my response was to embee's post, like yours is to mine... not too hard to track, really.

                                                            2. re: redearth

                                                              A question for which I have no answer. There is no single great deli that I'd return to exclusively, forever.

                                                              When I was a kid in Brooklyn, there was good deli a few minutes from everywhere - we could walk to at least six. But, as per the upcoming "Death of Deli" by David Sax, Jewish deli is a dying art.

                                                              Schwartz always had the best smoked meat and (NY) Katz's the best pastrami. But Schwartz sells only a little more than smoked meat and Katz's food, other than the pastrami, isn't notable.

                                                              The original Nathan's Coney Island location supposedly still serves their original franks, one of my addictions, but their other deli food has always been really gross. (And the Nathan's franks I brought home from Wegman's last summer seemed a pale imitation of themselves.)

                                                              My votes for best deli could have been the Stage in New York (still open, and supposedly revived, but the place I actually knew faded in the late sixties), the Brown Derby in Montreal (closed in the nineties), and the Rascal House in North Miami Beach (closed last year, but faded some years before).

                                                              Some places still make one (or a few) good things, but I don't know anyplace here that serves the full spectrum of great deli food. There are a few newer delis in New York that may be good, but I haven't had a chance to try them.

                                                              Two people are trying to revive things: Zane Caplansky here and Nick Zukin in Portland.

                                                              Caplansky serves great soups and I've always had perfect fries there. He has the artisanal smoked meat, which is coming along, and a terrific homemade gravy. Sometimes there's knish. But that's the entire menu, and one can't survive on smoked meat alone. I hope things will expand, deliciously, when he gets his own place, but it's hypothetical today.

                                                              I have never been to Kenny & Zuke's in Portland. They have an extensive deli menu, but I can't pass judgment on something I've never tasted.

                                                              The state of real kosher deli is even worse. There's nothing anywhere in Canada that's worth eating. The revived 2nd Av Deli in New York has gotten some good reviews. I've not been there, but the latter years of the original were pretty blah.

                                                              In short, I'm still waiting.

                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                God love you, embee. I think we need to encourage Zane, and people like him, if we ever want a thriving Toronto scene. Is Zane's the same as what I can get on the Main? No. Is it delicious? Yes. And can I get it without a four hour car ride and $300 in speeding tickets? Yes. Zane is good. Is Zane perfect? No. Is anyone perfect? No. Should we encourage the Zane's of the world to keep going? Absolutely. Would I like to see more Zanes in Toronto? Absolutely. Just as our appreciation and desire for Chinese food escalated once we went beyond sweet and sour chicken balls, I think our feel for different smoked meat styles will grow as well. Keep going, all of you; our palates thank you!

                                                            3. re: embee

                                                              Anyone can see the black colouring on Black Forest Ham in the deli display at a supermarket. Same thing on brisket, or a cured round roast, which passes for pastrami in these places.

                                                              I became aware of this when embee wanted to know if the Dunn's (whole) briskets at Costco were painted. Maybe, or maybe not, but a layer of spices was included as well. Even the pouches of Dunn's, still available have lots of seeds and spices, and make a good quick sandwich.

                                                              However, Zane's is the real thing, just as Darryl's smoked brisket in Whitby is authentic, and uncured.

                                                              -----
                                                              Caplansky's
                                                              356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                                              Buster Rhino's
                                                              2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

                                                  2. re: sharkey2008

                                                    When you go to a restaurant, shouldn't the food come "seasoned"? Going to a restaurant, you're paying for a service, someone to cook your food.

                                                    This just boggles my mind.....people are really reaching for criticism.

                                                    For the record, I think Zane makes some of the best fries in the city. Aggressively seasoned? Yes, but they're damn good. Plus potatoes can take a lot of salt. I like them more than JK's fries, which some consider the gold standard of Toronto.

                                                    1. re: sharkey2008

                                                      I don't know about their mustard being so amazing.... In my limited experience it's been pretty bland, at best.

                                                      1. re: redearth

                                                        I'm hoping for a Kozlik's Mustard (Double C) + Caplansky's Smoked Meat partnership.

                                                        1. re: JonasBrand

                                                          You can buy his meat to take home, sliced or not. I think it's about $12/lb or around that. Or, take in your own mustard.

                                                          I gotta try that Double C stuff. Sounds good.

                                                          1. re: grandgourmand

                                                            I like the atmosphere! And think it would be totally nuts to bring in my own condiments (or rye bread for that matter)...

                                                            Double C is some of the very best mustard I've found, so figured I would make the connection and see what happened. I dig that Caplansky's tries to make everything from scratch, but if another local producer does mustard even better, why not cross promote? :D

                                                            Swing by Kozlik's in St. Lawrence Market for the Double C.

                                                            1. re: JonasBrand

                                                              I too love the Double C, but I have concocted what I believe to my ultimate "mustard-for-smoked-meat-sandwiches": 1 measure Double C, 1 measure good quality dijon, 1/2 to 1 measure yellow ballpark mustard (French's for example). Adjust the yellow mustard according to taste - I do about a 3/4 measure. This mix has it all: zing, tang, spice, rich creaminess, etc. Perfectly compliments smoked meat! Try it, you'll like it!

                                                              1. re: redearth

                                                                Yeah, that sounds really good. I'm going to try that this weekend with my Goldin's deckle.

                                                                1. re: acd123

                                                                  That's exactly the meat I had it with last, and it was fantastic!

                                                                  http://hogtownheroes.blogspot.com/

                                                            2. re: grandgourmand

                                                              Kozlik's has an amazing selection of mustards and you can try them all at the St. Lawrence Market, as Jonas Brand says. My favourite is Old Smokey

                                                              1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                Last time I tried Zane's mustard. It is good - I could eat it by the spoonful. For his sandwiches, I would prefer Woeber's spicy brown mustard, though.

                                                                1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                  Who sells Woeber's or Gulden's spicy brown mustard in GTA?

                                                      2. And I went for the first, and definitely not last, time today. As I posted elsewhere in this thread, I was expecting a lot worse atmosphere based on the dodgy comments. This is a quaint old bar with character. I was actually pleased by the TV's with the ManU-Aston Villa game on but as soon as the match actually started, the sound was turned off and crappy, sappy CHFI was put on. At least I got to watch. One other negative, trying to navigate the maze of one-way streets to find the place. Also the parking was a hassle, since it was Palm Sunday and the Church around the corner must have been packed.

                                                        I ordered medium and what arrived had nearly the perfect balance of fat and lean. The meat is a bit drier than Montreal Smoked Meats that I've had, but that also allows for a firmer, chewier, meatier texture, which I enjoyed. The spicing and natural smokiness were amazing and the overall experience was great. Kudos to Zane for creating an outstanding unique product.

                                                        One rather funny thing that I noticed was that I was the only one eating smoked meat. In fact all four other people in the place were eating sandwiches from San Fransesco's next door.

                                                        On the way out, I met Zane and we chatted, while I grabbed a veal from San Fransesco's, which I'd never had before. This guy seems as passionate about his craft as they come. Driving home back to the sterile 'burbs I thought about his future success. I hope he is able to expand what he is doing and offer it in more places, but if he does, I worry about what has happened to so many others - their quality suffers. If he can avoid that, he has a great future.

                                                        11 Replies
                                                        1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                          I guess I just cannot stand having televisions around whilst I eat... or loud drunken English football fans for that matter.

                                                          Actually... I don`t enjoy either regardless of whether I am eating or not

                                                          (Explanation: I dont watch television... and I don`t follow football... and I have an unusually sensitive auditory perception... i.e. If it`s too quiet, you`re too young, oh... and... I am Scottish).

                                                          Now... I am hardly an old fogey... I was just complaining because of the one bloke and his fat, bloated, drunken football rantings... and his wish to share his emotions with everyone else in the bar, that`s all (for the record, he was on his lonesome).

                                                          It kind-of tainted my experience.

                                                          I don`t think of the place as being dodgy at all... it`s just a pub.

                                                          Nevertheless, let`s talk about the food.

                                                          I went back on Monday and had another superb medium sandwich.

                                                          Best smoked meat around IMHO.

                                                          And I heard a few complaints about the fries... but ours were lovely... crispy and hot.

                                                          After the sandwich, my highlight was the pickle platter.

                                                          Deeeeeelicious.

                                                          Service (food-wise) is so very friendly and attentive also.

                                                          I could probably ask for a better selection of beer, but that would be nit-picking.

                                                          1. re: Non Doctor

                                                            Did you try the coleslaw? It's another area of (less huge) debate. I really enjoy it, the predominance of vinegar flavour, that is.

                                                            The fry comment was surprising (the negaive ones). Usually praise is heaped. Then again, there are misses and I believe turnaround in his kitchen could be an issue.

                                                            I'm not a fan of the poutine. I think there's too much gravy. It becomes gloopy. It's tasty, no doubt, but a bit too much stuff disturbing the gravy/curd/fry harmony.

                                                            1. re: grandgourmand

                                                              I like the fries. The poutine is just okay for me, since the curds suck. The coleslaw was better back in the day; lately when I've had it, there was no zing at all.

                                                              1. re: tjr

                                                                I'm not going to judge him on the curds since, for some reason, we can get good squeaky curds in Toronto.

                                                                For what it's worth, I think his fries are top tier in the city.

                                                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                  I'm surprised by how many people think that Zane's fries are top notch. I haven't experienced fries to write home about there, that's for sure. Good, sure, but top tier? I dunno...

                                                                  1. re: redearth

                                                                    They aren't my favourite fries/frites in the city, but they're pretty damned good. I will judge a poutine on the quality of the curds, though...

                                                                    1. re: tjr

                                                                      I don't know why restaurants don't stock Black River Cheese Curds from Prince Edward County. They would turn so many mediocre poutines into passable ones at the very least.

                                                                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                        Assuming they were fresh! I'm not sure where Caplansky gets his curds, but they're pretty ho-hum.

                                                                        It's not a big deal though; I'll just order the excellent fries and the wonderful sandwich!

                                                                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                          In fact, N Pig, we only use Black River Cheese curds. Also, you might be interested to know a few months ago we switched to Putter's pickles. I like the crunchy skin and they tend to be bigger than Strub's.

                                                                          1. re: Caplansky

                                                                            Oh, really eh? Good to know. I haven't tried Putter's pickles before as I am a Moishe's man myself however the next time I come by I'll definitely fill my gut with some Putters.

                                                          2. Too many onion chunks in the gravy, last time I had it

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: duckdown

                                                              I like the gravy a lot. It's actually more like a stew than a gravy, but damn tasty nonetheless. So, not ideal for ordering on the side because as you dip the fries, you soak upl the liquid and leave the meat and veg chuncks at the bottom and have to eat with a fork.

                                                            2. Here's a link to Zane Caplansky's blog, which explains some of what has been happening with the meat and, also, what you should do if your aren't happy with something - don't be shy, say something!

                                                              http://blog.caplanskys.com/

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                great writeup in the blog.
                                                                Really shows he's here for us, and not ego driven reasoning.

                                                              2. Not sure why you would bring your own bread to a restaurant. Anyways Buster Rhinos has amazing smoked pulled pork sandwiches, how does this place compare?

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Crispy skin

                                                                  Kind of apples and oranges. Or, more accurately, smoked meat and pulled pork.

                                                                    1. re: Crispy skin

                                                                      Oh goodness no. Smoked meat is beef, with origins in Jewish deli. Schwartz's in Montreal is the prime example in Canada. Caplansky's is a bit of a hybrid, with smoky elements of Texas-style BBQ beef, at least to my taste.

                                                                      I would read through embee's posts for far more educated dissertations on Jewish deli items like smoked meat, pastrami, corned beef, etc.

                                                                      1. re: Crispy skin

                                                                        Buster Rhino's has smoked beef brisket sandwiches as well as pulled pork shoulder.
                                                                        The brisket is not brined or dry cured as Caplanky's or Goldin's, so you can't really compare them on an equal footing. Both types of smoked meat (beef) can be very good.

                                                                  1. Ruth Reichl, the editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, went to Caplansky's and loved it!

                                                                    http://www.savethedeli.com/2009/05/06...

                                                                    The article also says that Zane is about to sign a lease on his own space on College, West of Spadina, near the Kensington Market!

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                      Fantastic news! Now I can go to a bigger Caplansky's and finally get something from Bitmondo's to enjoy at the Monarch as well! :)

                                                                      1. re: Pincus

                                                                        Yes, fantastic news. I really like the Monarch location but I think this move will give Zane the facilities and space he needs.

                                                                        And I love the fact that Jewish deli is coming back to Kensington market. Great move.

                                                                        1. re: acd123

                                                                          I love the fact that Jewish deli is coming closer to my office. That's about the only thing that can reduce the sting of him leaving the Monarch, because I really do like the current setup. I'm thrilled for Zane, though.

                                                                      2. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                        YEAH! Decent walking distance from home now, even in the winter!

                                                                        Now I hope that there are some excellent beer taps in the new digs. I'd like to have something other than Steamwhistle with my sandwich and poutine.

                                                                        1. re: lister

                                                                          Glad he is able to expand and I love the new location but sign me up for being a fan of the current setup. It was a unique little spot with character.

                                                                          1. re: jamesm

                                                                            I'm gonna miss the Monarch location too. I think it's really warm in there. great friendly vibe. I honestly could not understand how someone could think that the Monarch is shady. Weird.

                                                                            1. re: acd123

                                                                              I will miss the Monarch location...its a great place to take visitors to Toronto.

                                                                            2. re: jamesm

                                                                              Actually I love the Monarch too and eating there. But I can see where more kitchen space would make his life a lot easier too.

                                                                              1. re: Pincus

                                                                                I love the Monarch space too, but I would expect a vastly expanded menu in his own restaurant, so it has my vote if anyone is counting.

                                                                                Plus Bitondo's has some of the best slices and panzerotti in the city, so when I miss the Monarch that shall be the plan.

                                                                                1. re: childofthestorm

                                                                                  I hope he doesn't vastly expand the menu. It should be short and sweet like Schwartz's. He should continue what he's doing: a few things very, very well.

                                                                                  Usually, when I see a vast menu that tried to do everything (and ends up doing nothing well) I turn around and walk away.

                                                                                  We definitely DO NOT need another Pickle Barrel.

                                                                        2. I hated the Monarch, but this new location isn't going to be any more convenient for me... And parking will probably be even more difficult

                                                                          I don't see myself going back for a while

                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                                            ...now that you have Goldin's?? :-)

                                                                            1. re: acd123

                                                                              very good point, yeah... goldin's is much more convenient, thats for sure :) i wonder the current status of the salt issue... caplansky's has had some extremely salty batches in the beginning as well so it's a common problem while they're ironing out the formula

                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                Mine wasn't overly-salty, then again, my tolerance for salt is high.

                                                                                This is from the most recent batch.

                                                                            2. re: duckdown

                                                                              The area is very well served by the TTC. The Spadina streetcars run very frequently. Leave your car someplace and take the TTC. The walking distance from Spadina & College to the north end of Kensington is quite small.

                                                                              I hate the Monarch largely due to the lousy beer selection. Secondarily the location, closer to home is always better. :-) I didn't find the place shady at all.

                                                                              1. re: lister

                                                                                So where is the new location? Near Augusta I imagine? And this is indeed a location switch? Not a second location?

                                                                                I will definitely miss eating Caplansky's at the Monarch, but will still have ample reason to frequent the Monarch. San Fran sammos. Bitondo's. And it's a cute, casual spot.

                                                                                Congrats to Caplansky's on all their recent developments. And all my best to them. Can't wait to see the new location. Two words: keep it real old school. And have Interac! :)

                                                                                1. re: magic

                                                                                  That's most likely the area. It's been a while since I've wandered around there so I don't recall what spaces are exactly available. There was no mention in the savethedeli.com blurb about if it's a move or a second location. I don't care really as either works for me. I have no reason for returning to the Monarch at all after the new joint is running.

                                                                                  I'm hoping Zane makes an official announcement soon and gives some details about his plans.

                                                                                  1. re: magic

                                                                                    It wouldn't surprise me if he goes in to the former home of "the Dirty Bagel" (I think it was just called, "The Bagel", but it had a well-earned nickname--Is that place still vacant--haven't been there for a while?

                                                                                    1. re: Yongeman

                                                                                      I think that place is now Thai.

                                                                                2. re: duckdown

                                                                                  i don't understand this disdain for parking downtown?
                                                                                  I used to drive downtown all the time and could find cheap short term street parking all the time. The area around kensington even has a huge parking garage that is $3 FOR THE ENTIRE DAY on weekends. Not to mention the short term parking for $2.50 an hour on the streets. This isn't Manhattan. Parking is easy to find.

                                                                                  Now the fact that you have to come from the burbs to downtown is a shame just to get a sandwich... that I can empathize with but parking should be the least of your worries and shouldn't discourage you from coming downtown.

                                                                                  1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                                                                    Gotta admit, as someone who hates to go north of Bloor, I'm secretly glad that the people who are welded to their cars are kept from venturing downtown. Call it constructive congestion -- my happiest, most chowish days are Kensington Market's pedestrian Sundays.

                                                                                    I figure Caplansky's new location is now a 12 minute walk from my house rather than 15 at the Monarch - woohoo! The big question is, since he'll have a bigger kitchen (how could he NOT?), what else might he add to the menu! Latkes? Soups? Tongue? Desserts? Or will he keep it purist? As for the Monarch I guess I'll go back to the time honoured system of bringing up a panzerotti from Bitondos or a veal from San Francesco.

                                                                                    1. re: Brennius

                                                                                      I think both sides of the coin are rather silly to be honest. If you like good food, what's a little travel?

                                                                                      The dowtowners that scoff at the burbs and the burbanites that hate downtown congestion, both are missing out on good eats.

                                                                                      It's your loss.....

                                                                                      1. re: aser

                                                                                        I agree!! I'm always willing to travel for good eats!

                                                                                          1. re: Non Doctor

                                                                                            Wonder if the dodgy people will follow.....oops, that's us.

                                                                                      2. re: Brennius

                                                                                        saying you don't like travelling north of bloor is just as silly as complaining about parking downtown

                                                                                    2. re: duckdown

                                                                                      You have to be kidding; there's a municipal lot right in Kensington, and tons of street parking along the side streets north of College. Might be a problem on Saturday afternoons, but the rest of the time, parking shouldn't be a problem.

                                                                                      1. re: KevinB

                                                                                        Parking is never much of a problem for a suburbanite. But on those forays into the city, it is a major pre-occupation. And a lot of places get X'd because of street parking restrictions downtown. The College/Kensington parking situation is a challenge, but not hopeless like locations further downtown.

                                                                                    3. So, does anyone know where it will be? I told my dad, who grew up in the area in the 30's, about it and he's excited to try it. Now, he's 80 and has mobility issues. Is parking available nearby, and I mean nearby because dad can't walk far.

                                                                                      1. Recently had yet another wonderful sandwich at Caplansky's. Curds still don't squeak, though the fries were excellent. Coleslaw had more of a bite than my last visit as well, which is a good thing!

                                                                                        1. I'm going to have to go there Saturday for one of my final Caplansky's/Monarch experiences!

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Pincus

                                                                                            Good point. Will have to do this soon.

                                                                                            Man I wish the Monarch location would stay open. :( But forward and onward is good too!

                                                                                            1. re: magic

                                                                                              Just spoke with Zane and his new place will be at 356 college street in the former home of the Rosio Bakery Cafe. And more good news: It'll have a patio and it's licensed!

                                                                                          2. I'll miss the Monarch too, but who knows, maybe it will remain an outpost of the new location and kitchen.
                                                                                            Ruth Reichl has praised Caplansky's knish in Twitter (the quote is in Zane's blog), and it seems as if the knish was strongly influenced by one of our own! And Zane is only too happy to acknowledge this in the blog entry.
                                                                                            http://blog.caplanskys.com/

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                                                              If it is financially doable I’d love to see the Monarch’s location remain. But growing the business should be priority number one I guess. That said, please keep the Monarch!! Monarch.

                                                                                              Also, yes indeed, congrats to embee, incredible praise given from up high by a culinary giant. That I’m guessing made embee’s day.

                                                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                ah! congrats to embee! i recall the one of the earlier renditions to be very very good but i haven't had the chance since to indulge.

                                                                                              2. So my parents were visiting and seeing as my dad is a big smoked meat maven, it would be an ideal place to take them.
                                                                                                We ordered the smoked meat sandwich (naturally), french fries - poutine, pickle platter and of course a beer!!
                                                                                                We went on Friday around noon and the place was hopping. We loved the atmosphere.
                                                                                                Our waitress and our bartender (two separate bills), were attentive and very helpful.
                                                                                                My dad's verdict: he loved it.
                                                                                                My verdict: I loved it.
                                                                                                My mom's verdict: she's not a big lover of smoked meat, (just smoked salmon). LOL.

                                                                                                The waitress told us that they are opening a second location...Im happy for them.

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: domesticgodess

                                                                                                  Right on.

                                                                                                  Hmm, so any developments as to whether or not we know if the new College location means the closure of the Monarch location? Or will two locations be operating now?

                                                                                                  1. re: magic

                                                                                                    In his blog I believe Zane stated that he hadn't made a decision yet as to what he's going to do with the Monarch location.

                                                                                                    1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                      Guess I was just wondering if there was an update I wasn’t aware of yet. Probably not. Ok, thanks!

                                                                                                      1. re: magic

                                                                                                        I've decided to close the Monarch location once the new place opens - hopefully August/09

                                                                                                        1. re: Caplansky

                                                                                                          Oh too bad, the vibe in there is fun. But I can see why you'd do it, why cannibalize business at the new place.

                                                                                                          Speaking of which...more details on what ELSE will be on the menu at your new location, please! Gotta think you have some tricks up your sleeve?

                                                                                                          1. re: Caplansky

                                                                                                            I will very much miss eating smoked meat at the Monarch but it's a good decision on your part. All my best!

                                                                                                            1. re: Caplansky

                                                                                                              Probably the smartest way to go. All the best to you, Zane - hope you open before my contract to work down the street is up at the end of August. :) But how does the Monarch feel about this? Seems like they must have experienced a noticeable uptick in business over the last year...

                                                                                                              1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                I regret seeing the Monarch left in the lurch, as I have gone there in the old days with a veal sandwich and and know what dead is.
                                                                                                                If they are smart they could continue with deli food, like Lester's or Dunn's, and poutine. But they would have to manage the kitchen, not something they did in the past.

                                                                                                    2. It looks like Caplansky's will be "on hiatus" for as much as a month. Zane has decided that when the meat already at the Monarch is finished - which will be before month-end - he's finished there. The new Caplansky's is expected to open around the end of August.

                                                                                                      Story here:
                                                                                                      http://www.savethedeli.com

                                                                                                      or on Zane's blog:
                                                                                                      http://blog.caplanskys.com/2009/07/18...

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                                                        we went yesterday for an early dinner.
                                                                                                        zane's away, recovering.
                                                                                                        but the food is still damngood

                                                                                                      2. Just an FYI that today and probably tomorrow lunch are the last chances to get Caplansky's at the Monarch. I just went for lunch - I like the vibe in there and wanted to bid the space farewell - and chatted with Zane for a while. He's saying 2 1/2 weeks until the new space is ready.

                                                                                                        Sandwich was fantastic as usual.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: childofthestorm

                                                                                                          YOu can still go there for a veal sandwich from California's.

                                                                                                          1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                            Eh, I know this is Toronto heresy but I don't eat a lot of those. It's a gut bomb in a way that even smoked meat is not.

                                                                                                            But I will probably get some Bitondo's and hit the Monarch some time. I will miss the smell of the brisket in there though.

                                                                                                            1. re: childofthestorm

                                                                                                              I too will be revisiting there occasionally, I am one of the people who likes the atmosphere there. Plus it's an excuse to try Bitondo's.

                                                                                                              1. re: Pincus

                                                                                                                I had the Bitondo's slice once (actually a few bites of my wife's) and found it to be really good. I know they're known for calzone, but from my limited sample, the slice was amazing. Worth another visit.

                                                                                                                I like the atmosphere of the Monarch, but I too lament the loss of brisket. One of my favourite things recently was to split a California veal and a smoked meat sandwich with a friend. Best of both worlds.