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Jun 12, 2009 09:55 AM

Caplansky's and beer

This might be a little weird, but, I hope, my motive is clear. I went to Caplansky's for lunch this week. Everything was fine. Mr. Caplansky came around to see if everything was ok.
I'm very interested in food and beverage pairings. And I've noticed the past few time that the beer I drink with the sandwich, never really works that great. My goal this time was to find a great pairing. In the past I've tried Guiness and Boddington's. The beer selection at the Monarch is, let's say, a little limited. This time I tried Stella, Root Beer, and Glenlivet, neat. Root beer overwhelmed the food. Scotch and smoked food is a pairing some people like, I've never really been convinced. It seems a little too strong for the food. Stella seemed to be the best out of all the beers. Its not like both flavours expanded in my mouth, but the beer didn't overwhelm the food and there was some balance. There is an Ontario smoked beer, Church Key Holy Smoke, which pairs amazingly well with smoked salmon. Its hard to get, but I imagine this would be a great pairing. Next time I go, I may sneak in some Lapsang Souchong tea and see how it works. Who knows what selection will be available at the new location.
Does anyone else have some ideas?

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  1. Steam Whistle. It's a bit tart, which helps offset the smoke and fat.

    Unfortunately no wine is served there, but I think a nice Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc would go well with the smoked meat.

    I wouldn't complicate things too much.

    10 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      Go into Schwartz's and ask a guy at the counter what he would suggest pairing with the smoked meat. With a smile he would hand you a Cott's Black Cherry.

      1. re: acd123

        I agree. I'm just addressing the OP's question.

        1. re: acd123

          and if you asked the deli guys in Toronto they would have possibly said Vernors or Cream Soda.

          1. re: erly

            How does current Vernor/s compare to the product in our youth?

            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

              not the same "bite", but I still like a vernors with deli.
              This was very common in T.O.

          2. re: acd123

            I meant to respond the the OP.

            1. re: acd123

              I'm very happy with all the suggestions. I'll have to try The Black Cherry soda again.

              1. re: acd123

                It should be Dr Brown's Cel-Ray, but I'd probably be one of the three customers who'd ever order it.

                1. re: acd123

                  I have to respectfully disagree. A Kosher Coke is what I had with my Schwartz's feast a couple of weeks ago and it was a superb complement to my meal.

                2. re: grandgourmand

                  I wholeheartedly agree. I personally think Steam Whistle is just right with a Caplansky's combo. I can see how Stella would be good as well from a flavor standpoint, but I'm just too fond of a Toronto beer with a Toronto sandwich.

                3. I always go with an amsterdam blonde and that works for me.

                  I doubt you'll get any consciousness expanding pairings at the monarch, but if food pairings work for you as an excuse to drink and eat smoke meat sandwiches, then tally ho!

                  1. I've been bitching about the beer selection at the Monarch since Caplansky's opened (not Zane's problem) and since finding out about the new location, I have been pestering Zane here and at his blog to get a good lineup of beers. CK Holy Smoke has been one of my recommendations. I'd love to see 4-6 taps at the new spot. Waste one tap on Steamwhistle so the macro guys have something (without bowing to the Macros), have a couple of rotating seasonals and a few regulars. Denison's Weisse would be nice on the patio during summer as well as fruity offering of Nicklebrook Green Apple Pilsner, Great Lakes Orange peel or Church Key Cranberry Maple. A nice moderately hoppy lager as well. Black Oak Nutcracker, Great Lakes Winter Ale during winter. Great Lakes Pumpkin in the fall. *sigh*

                    I'm pretty much stuck having Steamwhistle at the Monarch. I like it but I like to have variety and having two Steamwhistles isn't variety. If the tap lineup was good I'd probably do 3-4 pints and the girlfriend two pints. I overheard that wine is available there. Just red and white, nothing in particular, whatever happens to be bought.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: lister

                      That's getting a bit highbrow for a smoked meat joint, no? Doesn't exactly fit the Jewish deli thing. Having a microbrew or two would be good but rotating seasonals? 4 to 6 taps? I'm pretty sure that would be lost on 95% of Zane's customers.

                      1. re: acd123

                        that would also likely make him better than 99.9% of bars in toronto if he could manage to do that. it would be its own separate business! i'd probably be there for beers more often than sandwiches since i can only stomach so much smoke and fat at a time.

                        1. re: acd123

                          No more highbrow than good beer at a Southern BBQ joint. Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester has lots of good beer on tap and in bottles. They have a few not-so-good beers available as well but they're easy to ignore.

                          I don't much care that it doesn't fit a Jewish deli thing. I've never been big on tradition. I want what's good! An awesome sandwich deserves an awesome beverage.

                          As for the customers, most of the general public is lost on good food, good beer and good wine. Think of having good beer as being able to expand on the customer base attracted to the deli.

                          Anyways, Zane will do whatever he will do. If it's crappy beer then my frequency of visits there will be roughly that of the Monarch, about once a month during May through September and once every couple of months for the rest with likely few to no ordering of adult beverages. If there's good beer then visits will double to triple with $$$ spent on numerous rounds.

                          1. re: acd123

                            I'll frame it as follows:

                            I was recently at a bar mitzvah service. The family provided lunch (not just a kiddush) for everyone - a couple of hundred people for sure. There were several tables laid out with a variety of wines for the taking. In addition to the standard supersweet gut rot, there were a few quite respectable looking Israeli and California reds and whites.

                            As we were leaving, I noticed that there were no empty wine bottles and most of the wine hadn't even been touched. That's the cultural reality. Few people are are abstainers, but equally few drink very much once past university age.

                            A selection of microbrews would, indeed, be nice, but I suspect beer-deli pairing isn't a major unit at sommelier school.

                            1. re: embee

                              You also have to consider from Caplansky's pov, what is the busiest time of service? I would think it's lunch for him. Alcohol pairing w/ food is generally more reserved for restaurants focusing on dinner.

                              Sure it would be nice to have good beers, but it's a low priority for me. Plus I love black cherry, and I rarely get the chance to order it. I certainly get to drink beer way more.....

                              Now this thread got me thinking about sneaking an innis & gunn in the monarch.

                              1. re: aser

                                And they have diet Dr. Pepper... a rarity (for restaurants).

                              2. re: embee

                                embee, you are right on,
                                Thanks for my smile of the day.

                              3. re: acd123

                                I tend to agree with you there --- a beer or two on tap maybe to wash down with your sandwich, but i highly doubt he wants to turn the place into the indie-micro beer destination of toronto, Victory north of the new locale on Markham St. has that covered.

                              4. re: lister

                                I cant drink Church Key Cranberry Maple. The nose reminds me of cake. Not a cranberry maple cake, but a urinal cake.


                                1. re: HarryLloyd

                                  Some people can't handle the sweet stuff. ;-)

                                  I had the Cranberry Maple at CK's Spring Revival several years ago. It tasted vastly different than usual. It was very tart. The cranberries stood out immensely and the maple was practically non-existant. Didn't care for it then.

                                2. re: lister

                                  I can confirm that wine was there, 'red' or 'white' - at least when I was last there in January, with a friend who hates beer. Her assessment: OK as an option if you really don't like beer but nothing to write home about.

                                3. I have always had a Steam Whistle when I was there and really didn't think about the realm of possibilities.

                                  I think expanding the beer selection at his new place is a great idea, but as a relatively young enterprise I would really rather he focus on getting the sandwich reliably good with probably increased foot traffic/clientele. Then he can move into the extra amenities like beer choices to try and expand his client base.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: Pincus

                                    My point exactly. I would love to see an interesting selection of microbrews, but not if it takes anything away from the focus on perfecting the deli offerings.

                                    1. re: acd123

                                      How does that take away focus on perfecting the deli offerings?

                                      1. re: lister

                                        It's basically a one man shop. If Zane can both address the perceived deficiencies in sandwich quality (minor to semi-serious, as reported here, ranging from different preparation problems to how the meat is sliced by some of the help) AND get the microbrews in place, then great.

                                        1. re: Pincus

                                          How is ordering from Mill Street so much more cumbersome than ordering from InBev? I understand at the Monarch he doesn't control the beer list, but he will at the new place. It isn't any more work, but it does make a difference in the quality of the dining experience.

                                          1. re: kwjd

                                            Sure, ordering from Mill Street wouldn't be much more work that ordering from InBev. But ordering from Mill Street, Great Lakes, Church Key and several other small breweries WOULD be more work. As would installing the numerous tap handles and/or beer fridges that would be required to stock so many brands.

                                            Anyone who knows me would know that I'd be overjoyed if it turned out that Zane is a closet craft beer fan, and plans to have a diverse and rotating line up of craft beers at his new place. But frankly, I strongly suspect that won't be the case. Assuming he has a liquor license (has that even been confirmed yet?), I'll be happy as long as he's got a couple of taps with a couple of local brews.

                                            1. re: gregclow

                                              Well put. The focus needs to be on the sandwich. I'll keep going for top notch sandwiches and a decent beer list. I won't if the sandwich flops and there's a great beer list.

                                              1. re: gregclow

                                                There will be a license. I've no idea what he plans to do with it. Given tentative plans for live music on weekends, there will undoubtedly be some choices. But we're talking deli - not gastropub.

                                                If I'm drinking beer with my deli, I'd rather have a fruit or spice beer or a plain, old, unfashionable ice cold Export. Barring that, a Dr Brown's (Cream or, especially, Cel-Ray) or a Blenheim ginger ale. I'm not holding my breath for the Cel-Ray or Blenheim.

                                                1. re: gregclow

                                                  I completely agree with you. I wasn't saying there should be anything more than a couple taps of craft beer. I'd be ok if he just had a couple from one local place such as Mill Street Organic & Tankhouse or Black Oak Nut Brown & Pale.

                                                  I'm not saying I wouldn't go even without the beer list, since I do go to the Monarch now, but I would go more often.

                                      2. It's a place that sells sandwiches, on the top floor of an old-school tavern. I think our Chowhound pretentiousness is showing. I mean, really, what kind of "pairing" is required to enjoy some smoked meat between two pieces of bread? I downed a couple pints of Boddingtons with mine and thought it was a delicious combo. You're defeating the whole charm of the place. I like a nice Canadian microwbrew as much as the next guy, but I don't need one to enjoy a bloody sandwich.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Gary

                                          I think that's what I was talkin 'bout.