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Caplansky's: What the @#$%^&*?!!!

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I can't understand what the fuss is about. Can you?

VVM- a boychik from the 'hood.

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  1. I loved Caplansky's at the Monarch, but I haven't been to the new location.

    If you really want to get into it, you can engage with the 170+ entries on this thread:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650727

    It would help if you said something substantive about the food, space, or service.

    R! - from my hutch.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rabbit

      I finally ate at the new location last Friday (I enjoyed the old location and its food several times). I love the space and atmosphere, one of the servers (quirky guy with big glasses) and the smoked meat knish. However, the smoked meat sandwich was so extremely salty, that for the first time ever, I couldn't finish my sandwich and was horribly disappointed. The server agreed it wasn't the best and cited "growing pains".

      1. re: Food Tourist

        The recent price increase will allow them to toss any bad stuff out and give you another piece.

    2. Not really... the sandwiches seem small to me.. the meat is hit and miss

      I much prefer Goldin's IMO

      1 Reply
      1. re: duckdown

        7 oz of meat is not a small sandwich, is it? That's your entire day's requirement of "meat and meat alternatives" according to Health Canada's food guide.

        If 7 oz is too small, the 13 oz fresser has to be sufficient, no? If not, how big would you like?

      2. Vinnie, why did you feel that you had to start a new thread, when there are already a couple on the go. Just to bring your negative opinion of Caplansky's to everyone's attention?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Yongeman

          Actually i agree . I haven't seen any place get the press Caplansky's has. ANOTHER article THIS weekend. Post this time

          1. re: bruceter

            The Post article wasn't about Caplansky's. It was an excerpt from the new David Sax book, "Save the Deli". Caplansky's was only mentioned in a sidebar because the photos were of Zane's sandwiches, and the Toronto stop on the book tour is at Caplansky's this Thursday.

        2. The "fuss" is a result of a rabid desire for a halfway decent deli downtown. Someplace that makes real food from scratch, somewhat reminiscent of the good old days. A place that has big fat sandwiches - cholesterol be damned - and all the stuff some of us remember from when we were kids. Is Caplansky's the epitome of this kind of food? I don't think so, but neither is anyplace else in the city - uptown, downtown, suburbia, wherever. I find the nitpicking criticism of the place utterly ridiculous. It's NOT fine dining, it's CHEAP and it's pretty damn good for what it is. Is it perfect? No. Will it ever be perfect? Good grief - what is? My comments are based on, yes, one single visit. I liked it - it has a vibe. Would I go back? Certainly. If I was downtown and wanted a pretty good sandwich and whatever else. We had a good lunch the ONE time I visited. Will they work out the kinks? I suspect so, eventually. Look I grew up on NY deli where the waiters were insulting, rude and ignored you or overwhelmed you. Caplansky's is probably going to settle into that kind of dining experience. I hope.

          14 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            I don't know if "cheap" is accurate. Most of the delis in NYC charge around $15 for a sandwich (which, with the loonie at current levels, is about $15 Cdn.), but you get at least twice the meat you get at Caplansky's. Plus they put a bowl of pickles on your table instead of the lonely slice you get at Zane's. I like his smoked meat, and his borscht, but his quality is up and down, service is iffy, and I don't think it's inexpensive if you want a full lunch. And I've visited both locations a number of times, so I think I have a better take than you do from a single visit.

            1. re: FrankD

              Caplansky's is hand sliced, but most N.Y. deli sandwiches are machine sliced. The thin machine slices will fluff out in a sandwich, much like pulled pork, dare I say.
              Zane's sandwich's have 5-6 oz thick sliced meat.
              To compare, you can prepare a Dunn's (Montreal smoked meat) 4 oz pouch at home, or get one at Costco, and it will appear larger.

              1. re: jayt90

                The 13oz for $13 is the solution for those who complain of smaller sizes. If they complain about the high price, then you can point to Katz or 2nd Ave which charge even more. Yes those sandwiches are gigantic.

                I haven't had the 13oz yet but I assume it's still pretty damn big,

                Probably better to close this thread so discussion can continue on the existing 2nd location thread.

                1. re: jayt90

                  Gotta disagree with your observation about hand sliced vs. machine sliced. I had a fantastic smoked meat sandwich at the Carnegie deli in New York that was nearly 9 inches thick. I am a hearty eater but it was so large that it was good for two meals. Don't care how it was sliced but there was at least 4x the meat of a Caplansky's sandwich. Followed by NY style cheesecake.... heaven (followed by a cardiac event lol)

                  1. re: cynalan

                    The sandwich was almost 9 inches thick? Now that does seem like an extreme exaggeration to me. Most people would have a hard time eating a 2" thick piece of anything, so what is the point of making it 4x higher?

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      Quantity is viewed, correctly or not, as "good value". If you go to the Carnegie Deli homepage, you are treated to a picture of one of their sandwiches. Although very large, it doesn't look like nine inches. I also note the Carnegie prices range from $14.95- $17.95 USD for their sandwiches. So, yes, they are charging you more money and you get more meat. That doesn't make them better than Caplansky's, and by the time I finish a normal (not fresser's) Caplansky's sandwich and fries, I am waddling out the door.

                      1. re: foodyDudey

                        Carnegie is known for piling it on. The sandwiches are served with wooden bbq skewers holding them together in place of toothpicks because the sandwiches really are that thick. They're also really good. No smoked meat, but the corned beef and pastrami are good. You can ask for extra slices of bread to make more manageable sandwiches. In the case of Carnegie, quantity and quality are both high.

                        As for Carnegie being better than Caplanskys, you can't compare them on the basis of smoked meat since Carnegie doesn't offer it. You could compare them as delis, but ultimately, they're in different cities and when you're craving some deli, the only thing that matters is which city you're in at the time. Both will satisfy your craving although you might be leaving with a football sized doggy bag from one of them.

                        1. re: GoodGravy

                          Yep, I worked for a couple of summers in Manhattan, and visited Carnegie often. That lunch time sandwich ended up being dinner as well every time. Supplement that with some salad from the ubiquitous salad bars in Korean groceries, and I'd get two very good meals for less than $20.

                        2. re: foodyDudey

                          It is certainly an exaggeration, but not an extreme exaggeration. Carnegie's sandwiches are humongous, and certainly can't fit into any typical mouth.

                          This is size for the sake of itself. Their sandwiches were never small - NY portion sizes are much larger than those here - but a Carnegie sandwich was MUCH smaller 45 years ago.

                          Few people can eat one alone, but you get charged a few bucks extra if they catch you sharing it. They are machine sliced, which also increases the apparent thickness of the sandwich.

                          1. re: embee

                            Wow, imagine the outcry if Caplansky's charged extra for sharing.

                      2. re: jayt90

                        What is the difference between hand sliced and machine sliced??

                        DT

                        1. re: Davwud

                          thicker slices by hand.
                          more density.
                          more meat.

                          a machine makes it more like a cushion or a bunch of mini coils.

                          1. re: Davwud

                            A few things:

                            - Brisket is a weird cut of meat. The grain keeps changing direction, and a skilled hand cutter will turn and flip the meat when necessary. It's very tempting to put the chunk of meat on the machine and just let it slice away. Since the machine slices can be very thin, the badly sliced portions remain edible.

                            - Hand cutting provides an opportunity to remove the "bad" fat that has the texture of rubber. (Caplansky's cutters don't all know how to do this.)

                            - The texture and mouth feel of hand sliced brisket are different, at least when it is freshly cooked and still warm. Many people, including me, find it more satisfying.

                            - It is extremely difficult to hand slice a cold brisket. You can do it at home, but it wouldn't make sense to hand slice a cold brisket in a deli.

                            - If you know what you are doing, you can fold and stack thin machine slices to make the sandwich seem much thicker than it really is.

                            It's not whether hand slicing is superior or inferior to machine slicing. They give a different result. I like my pastrami/corned beef/ smoked meat sandwiches warm and cut by hand. However, I'm fine with machine sliced corned beef on a cold sandwich. I prefer a cold, rare roast beef sandwich when it is thinly sliced by machine.

                            1. re: embee

                              Yep, I was there for the training session when Zane was teaching his new slicers. He brought in an old pro, who told them that the lean part of the brisket is the toughest part to get rid of - everyone wants a little fat in their sandwich. But no one wants a big piece of fat (about 1/4" on a slice is about right), so the trick, according to the pro, is to put a few slices of lean on every sandwich, and mix in some of the medium lean for a medium fat, and some of the fattier slices for a "full fat".

                              As Embee points out, the grain changes frequently, and the pro made a point of asking each novice cutter to identify the grain at all times. If you're handcutting, the thick slices HAVE to be across the grain, else the meat is very chewy. Machine slicing, because it slices thinner, overcomes this problem, but again, as Embee says, the meat is rarely trimmed properly before going on the slicer, so the results can be uneven vis-a-vis fat.

                              This may also account for the uneven results at Caplansky's- in a rush, the novice cutters probably aren't adjusting for grain, trimming fat properly, etc.

                    2. I imagine the discussions around the first New World delis. "Pffff. This kid doesn't know what he's doing. This is nothing like what we had back in Minsk. Now that, THAT was real food."

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Pincus

                        The New York style deli was transplanted from Germany, not Russia nor Poland, as it sometimes was. Of course it was adapted to American conditions- for eg, beef was plentiful in the USA; brisket became king. German immigration to America preceeded immigration from Russia and Poland by generations. Massive Polish and Russian immigration adopted the deli as their own, but I still don't remember much if any egg in the chopped liver in delis.

                        1. re: Pincus

                          Huy Pincus, To my knowledge all the original delis in T.O. and Mont. wher started by Jewish butchers or restauranturs that came from Poland,Russia and other countries. They knew how to make corned beef and pastramie, and it was better than anything you get today. They wern't worried about fat or calories. Not only that but the Jweish bakeries.

                        2. to answer the original question, I fully understand the hype.

                          Love the sandwich and Im making my way through the whole menu.

                          Gosh, that was easy.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Everythingtarian

                            I'm glad there's a real deli downtown. Cap's meat is okay, not awesome. I've always been curious to know what the original (real) Shopsy's on Spadina was like.

                            1. re: Sui_Mai

                              During the final years on Spadina, and before the sale to Lever Brothers, they had freshly cooked, hand cut hot corned beef and pastrami. Everything else by then, including the cold sliced meats, was identical to what came in supermarket packages.

                              1. re: embee

                                Did things get better after the Leverite marriage?

                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                  No. It went to much larger production with nowhere near the same attention to detail. You could get hot sandwiches, or Israel Shopsowitz would slice fresh cold for. He was the artist in the bunch, and continued to slice by hand on Front Street for a few years.

                                  1. re: Snarf

                                    Izzy Shopsowitz had his own place by the time Shopsy's was sold, after some kind of falling out with Sam. It was in the basement of the Thomson Building at Bay & Queen. If you didn't know about "Mr. I's", you'd never have found it.

                                    The featured menu item was the "Hot Dog Wellington", which was a frank (probably a Chicago 58; definitely not a Shopsy) surrounded by chopped liver, wrapped in knish pastry, and baked.

                                    Then he opened a big deli, Caraway's, at Yorkdale - I think that was in the early eighties. He claimed they served "original Shopsowitz recipes". I'm not old enough to know for sure, but I doubt it. Caraway's was okay, though not special.

                                    When Caraway's closed (I don't recall whether it failed), he was hired as the figurehead host at Front St by whatever investor group or operator was running that Shopsy's at the time. Good PR move, since he sure looked the part, but he had nothing to do with the food. I recall he died on the job there.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      Nice history lesson! I went frequently to Spadina in the 70's, part of a regular family outing. I missed most of the 80's and early 90's in Toronto, so wasn't around for Caraway's. During the Front street days, Izzy still remembered the old Spadina customers, and constantly made reference to people by their old regular orders.

                                      After our trip to Spadina, we generally followed that up with a stop at Harbord Bakery for the onion buns, which, over the years, seem to have maintained a fairly high quality. Would be nice to see these as an option at Caplansky's.

                                      -----
                                      Harbord Bakery
                                      115 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

                                      Harbord
                                      147 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1H1, CA

                                      1. re: embee

                                        Wasn't Dominon Stores part of the Front St operation?

                                        1. re: jayt90

                                          No. At one point it was run by A&W....

                                          1. re: embee

                                            V. interesting, thanks embee and Snarf. So sad what Shopsy's has become. I guess the Jewish population moving out of Kensington and area must have had something to do with it too.

                                2. re: Sui_Mai

                                  The "original" Shopsy's on Spadina was quite okay - had a big name and did a big business. I preferred (on the N.W. corner of Brunswick and College) - the "Eppes Essen" - and on the N.E. - the "College Appetizer."

                                  Shopsy's later sold out to Lever and their frankfurts - (although good, but never on par with Nathan's or Hebrew National) - had the recipe changed and they became more like mashed potatoes in flavour and consistency. All their other products had that pre-packaged "goodness" that Lever thought everyone knows and loves. NOT !

                                  Does Shopsy's still exist in any form?

                                  1. re: gitano26

                                    There are still a handful of restaurants. Since 2006 the restaurants have been owned by the Quinn family (Irish Embassy etc.)

                              2. I've worked my way through my share of smoked meat joints in Montreal, including Schwartz's and I will say only this: Caplansky has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and if all the bitching ad backbiting leads to its demise, Toronto will end up with precisely what it deserves: Nothing!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: munchieHK

                                  And in 25 years when a new deli opens people will whine "Well, it's no Caplansky's. Now that was a sandwich."

                                  I suspect nostalgia is getting the better of some people and affecting their objectivity.

                                  We went on Sunday after my girlfriend ran the marathon. Waited about 10 minutes to be seated by a friendly server. Both had a smoked meat sandwich, plus poutine and some fries. I also had a ceaser and she had a pint of Mill Street. Food came in a good time. We both loved the sandwiches and added some yellow mustard and some Kozlik's Triple C. Nice combo. The meat was flavourful, plentiful with a bit of smoke and a nice texture. The fries are superb and we both like the poutine. It's a good size and great for sharing. There could have been more curds I suppose but really no complaints. And my ceaser was fantastic with a nice horseradish bite and a pickle instead of celery. Really, really good. All in came to about 42 bucks. We left happy and full.

                                  Of course, I'm not a boychik from the hood so what do I know.

                                  1. re: munchieHK

                                    I'm sure the OP was just being entertainingly provocative. But just in case he/she wasn't, Nyleve had the most perceptive response: namely that the reception to Caplansky's new incarnation isn't so much a "fuss" as it is a small celebration of a good deli done right (as soon as all the kinks are worked out). Good deli isn't inconsequential to Chowhounders. Like a good pizza, pho, hamburger, falafel, hot and sour soup, fish and chips and mac 'n' cheese, these basic foods are the threads that get the most response, and rightly so. They speak to our yearning for good, tasty, distinctive, straightforward food at an easy-to-take price. Caplansky's does a distinctive smoked meat sandwich. Its batting average is high with cabbage borscht and french fries as well. I wish the cole slaw had more vinegar zing and the pickle plate had more pickles at the price. But these are small quibbles that will be sorted out eventually. Most important, the place looks, smells and feels right, much like the delis that used to populate the Spadina Ave. and the College St. of my youth. Most delis in Toronto serve a bland product - with Pancer's and Centre Street Deli the sometime-exceptions - that are little better than standard-issue corporate product. Namely, not up to much. Caplansky's has character, and, more to the point, good food as well, at a price neither low nor high. The "fuss", if there is such a thing about the place, is that it exists at all. It's a throwback, a satisfying, enjoyable little marvel.

                                    1. re: juno

                                      Well said Juno.

                                      Seems to me that this is just more of TO trying to eat it's own. Sorta speak.

                                      DT

                                      1. re: juno

                                        JUNO....
                                        This is probably the best post so far on the subject of Caplansky...well thought out...both the good stuff and the small quibbles and as far as I am concerned should ring a bell with most of the CH readers. Those who disagree will still post but most who 'really' read your post will understand the whole 'philosophy' of Deli in Toronto both past and present.....THANK YOU!

                                    2. went this week. had the turkey club (not on the menu...occasional special) that had beef bacon.
                                      best club in the city.
                                      fries cooked to perfection.
                                      knish was delicious.
                                      fiancee had the hash and liked it.
                                      service was still a little sloppy. we needed to ask for cutlery and remind them about our doggy bag.
                                      the new place is filled with charm. best club in a city that lacks a "best club".

                                      i don't even eat the smoked meat when i go to the new place. the chopped steak is excellent. so if you haven't ventured and tried the menu, then you really cannot understand.

                                      1. Went for the first time last week.

                                        Found the food to be good. Worth the hype? Probably not, but it was good.
                                        If Schwartz's is great then yea Caplansky's was good.

                                        What's awful about this place is the service. It was awful.
                                        I got my combo platter in about 7-10minutes, fair enough, but my friend had to wait 20 minutes just for his smoked meat sandwich.
                                        Maybe it was just the server as other tables around us appeared to have some issues as well...forgotten orders, etc. But still it was pretty bad. Zane did come by as well, but they need to get the front end and back end working in synch and unison.

                                        I will definitely give this place another shot and hope it continues to do well as we do need a bonafide deli in our fair town.

                                        1. Is this becoming the secondary ultimate Toronto metaphor? People want to love Caplansky's (or 'leafs'?) but are having loyalty crises based on past experiences with disappointment. Maybe Caplansky patrons and critics should consider the recent differences.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Snarf

                                            Please do not compare Caplansky's to the Leafs. That is a hug disservice to poor Zane.

                                            1. re: grandgourmand

                                              Don't worry. I'll hug Zane the next time I see him.

                                            2. re: Snarf

                                              No, I actually like Caplansky's. I haven't been disappointed. When they were having the issues when they didn't have smoked meat, I just didn't go and it wasn't that big of a deal to me. The quality of the smoked meat has varried somewhat between visits, but even at its worst, I still really enjoy it.

                                            3. It's @$!*!^&@!!ing good.

                                              1. FYI I went 2 days ago and prices have gone up slightly on nearly everything on the menu. The new pricing isn't on the website yet.

                                                e.g. smoked meat sandwich is $8 (up from $7), sandwich combo is $11 (up from $10), bagel and lox platter $12 (up from $9), etc.

                                                The bone-in ribsteak has been removed and a few things added, though I can't recall what right now.

                                                I don't think it's a big deal and will stll go as frequently as ever!

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: Wench Foraday

                                                  I went to Caplansky at 4 this afternoon and a sidn on the door said closed from 3PM for a private party. I won't go out of my way again.

                                                  1. re: delidan

                                                    Closed for a private party occurs at a multitude of establishments in Toronto. I don't see why Caplansky's should be singled out. It's annoying, but it's part of their business.

                                                    The price increases, though, are annoying. Considering his sandwich jumped from $6 already.

                                                    1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                      They were closed for a staff meeting after lunch, with some details posted on Caplansky's blog. It makes for interesting reading.

                                                      The sign on the door was misleading. The 5:30 party WAS public, and had been advertised on the Caplansky's and Save the Deli websites for weeks.

                                                      That said, it was the Save the Deli Canadian book launch, and there was no reason for anyone not interested in that to go. The US launch party in NY drew something like 400 people.

                                                      David Sax, for better or worse, sent Caplansky's into orbit. It was his article last year that precipitated the instant crowds. Looking back, this was NOT a good thing, but it's kinda late now....

                                                      They needed a quiet opening month then, and a couple of quiet months at the new place, to get organized - not lineups out the door from the first day. As I posted in another thread, the crowds are a blessing, but even more a curse.

                                                      The Sax book was first called "The Death of Deli". Caplansky's, and a new deli in Portland (of all places) called Kenny and Zuke's, changed the book's focus from a memorial to a near dead cuisine to hopes for a renaissance. Sax wrote an epilogue about this for his already finished book.

                                                      Many restaurants do, indeed, close for private parties, but this one was hardly ordinary. I'd guess that you would have done the same thing - I certainly would have. The 8:00 party was, indeed, private. Most of Toronto's deli owners were there.

                                                      I can't speak for anyone else, but I cut him a lot of slack because, for decades now, nobody else in Toronto even bothered to try. (That includes me, and I've been badgered by friends to open a deli for at least 25 years.)

                                                      I haven't seen the new menu or prices yet, so I can't comment on those. The web menu hasn't been updated so far.

                                                      1. re: embee

                                                        Speaking of Kenny and Zuke's, I ate there last week. Fantastic, spicy, complex pastrami, better than Katz for me, and I only hesitate to call it the best because I haven't eaten at Langer's yet. Again, everything is done by hand - they even bake their own rye bread. It is, dare I say, a much more evolved operation that Caplansky's, but they are clearly part of the same movement/renaissance, and I think Kenny and Zuke's is a model that Zane is maybe looking to as he grows his business. Growing pains and all.

                                                        I've said it before and I'll say it again: we are very, very lucky to have a passionate guy like Zane trying to bring back a dying cuisine the right way, and he should be supported if you love deli. Those visiting Toronto from out of town must go there, it's a destination, the same way Kenny and Zuke's is in Portland.

                                                        Honestly, you don't like your sandwich, send it back, they'll give you something else. I doubt anyone is more aware of the bumps along the road that Caplansky himself, and he's made it abundantly clear that if you're not happy, tell them, and they'll do what they can to make you happy.

                                                        1. re: embee

                                                          Hi embee, your post is a little confusing, you say "The 8:00 party was, indeed, private. Most of Toronto's deli owners were there" yet you posted at 6:22. Did this all happen today?

                                                          How many of Toronto's deli owners were there, all 3 of them? :-)

                                                          1. re: foodyDudey

                                                            The parties were yesterday. There aren't exactly a lot of delis in Toronto, so you probably aren't that far off. Centre St didn't show.

                                                            1. re: embee

                                                              Now I see that delidan posted yesterday, I thought he posted today and that's why I found it a bit confusing.

                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                I didn't see any mention of Wolfies either. No invite?

                                                        2. re: delidan

                                                          He was closed for the book launch party of David Sax's "Save the Deli".

                                                        3. re: Wench Foraday

                                                          These are not slight price increases, IMO. In particular, obviously, the price increase on the bagel and lox platter is quite significant. A dollar increase on other items is not insubstantial, either...

                                                          1. re: redearth

                                                            Agreed on the larger price increases.

                                                            1. re: Pincus

                                                              I bet the rent is more than what he paid at the Monarch, and it has to come from somewhere. But it would have made more sense to have the new prices in effect when they opened on College, not a some weeks after.

                                                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                                                Already a price increase after less than 60 days in new location? It will no doubt cost him to update menus. Rents are significantly higher in TO compared with MTL, however Shwartz's charges $5.50 for their smoked meat or turkey...I enjoyed one yesterday.

                                                                1. re: J Buck

                                                                  It costs nothing to print out a one-page menu on a computer.

                                                        4. For those of you who have been,a quick question regarding service:
                                                          One of my biggest service pet peaves (which is often an issue with inexperienced waitstaff) is when you order your apps at the same time as the mains and then they end up bringing it all at once. Have anyone experienced that or do the servers at least understand how to pace the meal?

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                            Its a deli. I wouldn't go in expecting 'pacing' of courses. Plus, the menu doesn't have appetizers and mains on it. No appetizers, no problem with pacing?

                                                            It does have main items and sides. Most patrons would expect the sides to come with the main (i.e. the latkes, fries, poutine, soup, etc. . ., is usually wanted with the sandwich). But, you can always try asking.

                                                            Here's a link to the menu so you can see what I mean: http://caplanskys.com/menu.php

                                                            1. re: Atahualpa

                                                              Ah yes, I guess I was thinking if you had ordered a soup to start and then a sandwich and fries as a main. But I see what you mean.

                                                          2. wow, hard to believe the tiny sandwich has gotten even MORE expensive... shocking.

                                                            1. Looks like this thread has overtaken the review thread.

                                                              Anyhow, I had my first sandwich - not sure if I loved it, but it was certainly unique, as well as the best I've had in the city. It didn't blow me away in the same way the poutine did, but hey - it was still pretty good.

                                                              Machine sliced brisket is not to my liking at all - hot/cold/whatever. When in Montreal, and ordering a sandwich for the road, I prefer to order it hot (so it's hand sliced) and let it cool. Always tastes better.

                                                              Why is Caplansky's doing well? Because no one can stop talking about it??

                                                              Really not sure why people are up-in-arms about this place, and why uninvolved parties are creating an imaginary bitter rivalry between Caplansky's and Goldin's (which are totally different products/services).

                                                              It's a restaurant. Annoyed he's getting so much press, and your favourite place isn't..? Tell them to do something different, and get a better publicist.

                                                              11 Replies
                                                              1. re: mikefly

                                                                for all the people complaining online, a line I remember reading in Zane's blog....

                                                                "If its not hot enough, not fatty enough or too fatty we will replace any sandwich. If you hated it and didn’t say anything so you could go home and write that it sucked and people shouldn’t go, what can I do?"

                                                                food for thought...

                                                                1. re: craigger

                                                                  We'll-replace-what-you-don't-like guarantees are appreciated but there still is room for a variety of comment. My smoked meat burger seemed alright for the first half but by the time I was in the home stretch every bite needed a slug of beer to wash it down it was so dry. After waiting (longer than usual) to be seated, for orders to be taken, and for our food I wasn't going to send back a half-eaten burger.

                                                                  Lumping all vaguely negative comments under the heading of "it sucked and people shouldn’t go" is a straw-man. From forums like Chowhound I want to read the unedited versions of many experiences--in all degrees and shades between "mind-blowing" and "wretched".

                                                                2. re: mikefly

                                                                  Who's creating a "bitter" rivalry? Just comparing the products. Isn't that what we do here?

                                                                  1. re: mikefly

                                                                    I think some people are annoyed because Zane's like the little girl with the curl; when he's good, he's very good, and when he's bad, he's horrid. I've had more than a few meals at both locations, and the results are always up and down. Sometimes the borscht is supernal; other times, it's bitter and burnt tasting. Fries can be great or mushy. Latkes can be crispy or leaden. The sandwiches are usually good (and I've been lucky enough that he's always had meat on hand when I visit), but I've had a couple that were unpalatably fatty.

                                                                    And I think what's ticking some people off is that despite being open for two months, there are people here who are still making excuses for poor service, product unavailability, high prices, etc. What other place gets so much slack? I'd like to see the guy get his act together and really succeed, but this unquestioned adulation from some is a bit much to take.

                                                                    1. re: FrankD

                                                                      Exactly.

                                                                      I said this many times in the "other" thread. Sometimes my comments were kept, sometimes they were deleted. One poster called me 'jealous'. Of what, I'm still not sure. Especially after I explained that I had gone to the place many, many times.

                                                                      But I also think that there are many on here that are 'blinded by the meat' meaning they'd follow Zane anywhere. I could understand that type of messiah treatment if it was always 100% consistent but really, it's so hot and cold. And, I don't think I'm even exaggerating when I say that the service utterly sucks. If I didn't know better, I'd say that this was Seinfeld 2 in the making...

                                                                      Oh, and it's a little embarrassing reading everyone that defends food, service, prices, so vehemently but wouldn't think twice to trash a place they'd only tried ONCE. Yet they'll keep going back to Caplansky's and giving it numerous chances. This is the unfairness that I'm speaking about.

                                                                      1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                                        I agree, although, he produces a unique product, relatively unmatched in the city. It's happened to a few places I've read about on this board. The place is still new in the grand scheme of things, word of mouth is still rampant. Will it be around after the masses have had their taste? Time will tell.....

                                                                        1. re: Dr Butcher

                                                                          You're right, time will tell.
                                                                          You're right about it being a unique product too, but how does it differ from any other restaurant's 'signature unique product'? Why is this unique product so elevated versus another? Whether we're talking burger, club sandwich, cobb salad, fries, etc. etc.?

                                                                          I also think people are forgetting that this place isn't a fine dining restaurant where you might not frequent that often. A deli is something you frequent more often. This is a casual place famous for their smoked meat. By not having a consistent product of what you're famous for is kinda crazy, no?

                                                                          1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                                            There is a natural excitement because a Toronto boy is reviving an old form of preparing a deli product and then going for all the gusto and expanding into a full-blown deli.

                                                                            Does this mean I would have tolerated some of the service issues already mentioned if I had experienced them? Not very well. Do I think the recent price increases (some quite high) are a good thing? In the absence of tasting the product being offered at the new price point, I have to say no.

                                                                            But does this mean I don't cheer him on for doing his thing? Of course not. More power to someone trying to be a taller Canadian sunflower.

                                                                            He is in a honeymoon period right now with his new space, and that won't last forever. But Zane seems to recognize what he's doing right and what he's doing wrong, and I have a strong optimism for the spot doing very well. I need to get down there, almost went the other night but I got lazy and went to Tequila Bookworm instead for a nosh.

                                                                            1. re: Pincus

                                                                              I think you've hit on an important point. People know that Caplansky is still trying to perfect his smoking process with the new smokers and trying to get some consistency in his results. There usually isn't the same kind of feedback and dialogue going on with a restaurant owner or chef, so if you have a bad experience there you don't have the same sense that things will eventually improve. Wrong or right, I think people almost feel like they're part of the Caplansky's phenomenon, so they keep saying "atta boy, you'll get it right," instead of "this sucks, I'm outta here."

                                                                              1. re: CeeQueue

                                                                                Keep in mind that smoking takes years of trial and error to get it just right.

                                                                                DT

                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                  Even Schwartz's doesn't have it perfected. I've had MSM from there twice; the first time was amazing, the second so dry and salty I couldn't choke it all down (it was take-out, so I couldn't return it).

                                                                  2. I had a medium and a fatty today, and they were delicious, but I think I'd rather make my own than pay FOURTEEN DOLLARS FOR A FRICKIN' SANDWICH!!!

                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: redearth

                                                                      14$ now? can someone please verify these prices?

                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                        5 fressers for myself and others today came to $75, all in. Yes, that's right, people - 5 sandwiches for $75. I think there's a problem here.

                                                                        1. re: redearth

                                                                          with fries? what size were these?

                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                            Fressers are 13oz — not quite double the size of a regular sandwich, and not quite double the price.

                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                              No fries. Just sandwiches. Lotsa meat, sure, but it's brisket, folks! Not exactly filet mignon!! Just sayin'...

                                                                              1. re: redearth

                                                                                Pastrami at Katz in nyc is $14.95 and at 2nd Ave Deli it's $14.25, sandwich only. USD obviously.

                                                                                1. re: redearth

                                                                                  13 oz of meat is quite big for one person, considering what the daily recommended portion of even a lean meat is. Now if you consider what a 13 oz burger would cost, the price is not out of line for the extra labour involved to make smoked meat.

                                                                                2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                  The fresser is 13 oz of meat ($14). The regular is 7oz. ($8). The pricing is $1 + $1 per ounce.

                                                                                  I will leave it to others to debate whether this is too high a price.

                                                                                  I will note that every time I've been to the new place, it has been packed. This includes pre-lunch at 11, post lunch at 3pm, post-diner at 9:30pm and so on. If people are packing your place, the prices can't be too far out of line and he'll know when he's asked too much.

                                                                            2. re: redearth

                                                                              Totally reasonable considering you ordered 14 oz of meat. A regular sandwich is $8. I remember paying nearly $15 for a sandwich at Katz's in NYC, and that's similar to the fresser - pastrami piled real high.

                                                                            3. First time I headed down to the new location, they were out of meat. I gave it another shot today at 3pm, I was hoping to actually get the dinner menu but they couldn't (or wouldn't) serve me the liver and onions or chopped steak. Its a shame, because I'd love to try them but impossible for me to get there in the evening.

                                                                              Had a smoked meat sandwich (med) + poutine instead of fries. ($2 extra for total of $13 combo, a bit expensive IMO). OH yeah, a quarter of a pickle was included.

                                                                              Poutine was tasty however much too salty for my taste. I'm not a big smoked meat connoisseur, but I thought my sandwich was just okay. I had a few sandwiches at the old location that I enjoyed more, but I'm not sure if it was because I had a few beers those past times and was having a good time or if it actually tasted different. While eating this sandwich I felt like...well, I wished I had gone gotten something else for lunch.

                                                                              I wish this places success but I won't be back unless they decide to serve the dinner menu earlier because I'd love to try it. Finally, I much prefer the "seedy characters" (LOL) to a lot of the hipsters I saw there today. Does that make me sound like an old grumpy man? It might but I'm only 26...

                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                              1. re: szw

                                                                                Does make you sound like a grumpy old man. But that's a good thing. I aspire to be one in the future. I too miss the old Monarch charm. C'est la vie.

                                                                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                  I'm sure I wasn't the only one who noticed the female server who was at the Monarch. She could get visibly busy, but I always felt she was on top of it. Everything was better at the Monarch.

                                                                                  1. re: dubchild

                                                                                    I kind of regret not making it out to the old Monarch location.

                                                                                    Regardless, I am going for my first time tomorrow for a late lunch. In the least, I hope my friends enjoy it as I recommended the spot this time around! Too bad about the price increase....

                                                                                    1. re: ylsf

                                                                                      ok, I went around 1:15pm today. The lineup wasn't too bad (one of our group was there a bit earlier so total wait was around 20 minutes or so for a group of 4).

                                                                                      The waitress seemed friendly enough. However, in regards to the service three of us ordered combos and she forgot two of the sides (didn't bring out a salad and an order of fries, but, she did bring out the soup). The same waitress didn't come back to see if things were alright (which, I normally hate anyway) and she wasn't even around our table to flag her down so I had to ask another waitress who quickly went back to the kitchen to grab the two missing items. I also had to ask the same other waitress for a water refill as near teh start of teh meal no one was keeping an eye on the water but then later during the meal one of the guys working there came and filled up our water without asking which was good.

                                                                                      Now, on to the food. Two of my friends ordered the BBQ Brisket sandwich. When they asked for her to clarify she said it was the same smoked meat but served differently or something like that. What she said made no sense and I think she should have described it better. I knew what to expect but I am not sure my friends did.

                                                                                      Myself and another friend got the smoked meat sandwich. I ordered it medium as did my friend (btw, I hadn't heard anyone mention before that lean was an extra $2.... I wouldn't order it lean anyway, but... still... an extra $2!)....

                                                                                      The fries were okay but not my favourite. The sandwich itself was great but I don't know if the combo is worth $11.00 to me. (i.e. not sure if I would return back anytime soon). Nonetheless, glad I went and tried it after all of the "hype" I have been hearing!

                                                                                      1. re: ylsf

                                                                                        Although I've been a pretty strong voice in questioning why many are giving multiple chances to Caplansky's and not extending the same 'rules', 'courtesy' to other places--I have to say that the one thing I personally don't have a problem with, is the price.

                                                                                        I recently had to go to Subway sandwich for lunch and bought myself and another 2 sandwich combos and paid something ridiculous like $25! At Subway! So, I think for a fresh, almost artisanal product, fresh fries, good quality breads, mustards, etc. etc. I think he's pretty in line with today's pricing.

                                                                                        1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                                                          people aren't putting the price in perspective.

                                                                                          for example, Black Camel has delicious sandwiches. but after getting a sandwich and a Brio, it sets you back $10. and i am still a little hungry after the sandwich.

                                                                                          the Subway analogy is bang on. $11 for a combo that leaves me pretty stuffed.

                                                                                          but i do echo the sentiments about the service. seems like the staff just isn't catching on quickly, or are overwhelmed. it doesn't ruin my meals there, but i do have to ask for things (like cutlery) instead of my experience being smooth. but this is Toronto - i don't expect A1 service at most restaurants!!

                                                                                        2. re: ylsf

                                                                                          I'm curious, does anyone know why lean would cost an extra $2? That seems odd... I'm not sure if I've ever seen that in a deli. Anyone care to provide some insight?

                                                                                          1. re: magic

                                                                                            That $2/lean rule is the weirdest thing I've ever heard as well.

                                                                                            What is going on with this place...

                                                                                          2. re: ylsf

                                                                                            Only a few of the College St patrons are chowhounds. I would bet that most of the customers prefer lean meat and don't want a fatty cut. A surcharge makes sense, especially if they have a shortage of lean.

                                                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                                                              Hmm, I wonder if this is in fact the case. Thanks for the input.

                                                                                              It seems odd charging more for a personal preference, but I guess no odder than charging more for white meat over dark when ordering chicken. I'd just never heard of this charge before

                                                                                              If what you are saying is the case I guess the charge has to do more with availability of product than customer preference?

                                                                                              1. re: magic

                                                                                                I didn't know Zane was doing this and I don't know why. It's common in some other places (e.g., NY), but it isn't common here.

                                                                                                Some delis that machine slice charge extra because they pull the brisket off the machine to cut away excess fat before slicing. With hand slicing, this isn't as big a deal.

                                                                                                Some delis I've been to that charged extra for lean cut off ALL of the fat before slicing. Is this the case at Caplansky's? Never having ordered lean, I don't know.

                                                                                                Beyond these possibilities, other than customer willingness to pay and/or supply/demand, I haven't got a clue.

                                                                                                One of the cutters, Heshy, seemed constitutionally unable (at least at the Monarch) to serve anything but a lean sandwich, irrespective of customer requests. I don't know whether that's still happening at College, since I haven't been there during his shift.

                                                                                                1. re: embee

                                                                                                  Hmm. Ok, thank you kindly.

                                                                                                  To me it seems there is a fine line between willingness to pay and penalizing for a preference. I'm not at all suggesting that is the case here, but it would be nice to know the origin for this charge. Then again, I never question why many places charge more for breast meat over dark so maybe I should just shut the hell up.

                                                                                                  Maybe when I go down I will ask. I'm just curious. That said, let the ones who order lean pay for their sin ;)

                                                                                                  1. re: magic

                                                                                                    It's a bit odd because when I ordered yesterday, I was asked medium or fatty, lean wasn't even offered as a choice (nor would I have taken it). Is lean printed on the menu in the "extras"? I didn't examine the menu carefully, I knew what I wanted.

                                                                                              2. re: jayt90

                                                                                                i would guess that the brisket is naturally a fat cut. perhaps there is less lean meat available?

                                                                                        3. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                          The Monarch does have that certain charm. Good thing they have some other food places near to it I want to try out.

                                                                                      2. I regret to say I went there tonight, ordered a medium smoked meat and fries and found the food to be delicious and the service to be both friendly and effictient.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Pincus

                                                                                          LOL ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: Pincus

                                                                                            So 8 friends and I went on Saturday night around 7:30pm. Parking was easy on Brunswick (although it’s a one way, north of the office building). We were greeted promptly and seated within 10 minutes. The place was full and those who arrived after had a wait a bit. Overall, service was much better than I had expected after reading so many unsatisfactory comments. They brought our drinks rather quickly, but the beer glasses had a bit of leftover water in them. I’m assuming they were hand-washed and not dried (I tried briefly to flag someone down, but I gave up….so I poured the tiny bit of water on the floor….eek!). Nonetheless, I really appreciated the microbrews and we all enjoyed the no.9 IPA and the Oktoberfest Ale. I think Zane even offered to pour the tables’ glasses, while he chatted briefly with us! We were asked several times (by various servers) how things were and if we needed anything like drinks and mustards; so we asked for some additional rye for the deli platters. Most servers were friendly and helpful. The food came within 10-15 minutes of ordering, so that’s acceptable to me. We ordered the poutine and knish to start, but they came a minute or so after our sides of soup and fries came. Not really a big deal for us.

                                                                                            On to the food, the majority of the table ordered medium sandwich combos with borscht. From my one visit to the monarch the summer of ’08, I remember the meat to be much more moist and actually warm. This time, my sandwich felt like it was at room temperature and a bit dry (maybe it’s because it’s hand-sliced ahead of time so it dries out sitting in the big tray?). The food did arrive rather promptly, so I suppose you win some and you lose some….there’s gotta be a way to find the perfect balance though (more hands at the briskets?). I don’t recall much smoke in the meat (anyone have similar thoughts?), but it may be due to the amount of mustard(s) I was trying…haha. I also remembered the sandwich to be much larger. I was still full, but I vaguely remember them being a bit larger in width. The deli plates were enjoyed by those who ordered them and I particularly liked the tongue (which was nice and tender) and liver (in paté form, which has typical liver kick). The poutine was quite tasty and the amount of smoked meat gravy and curds was generous. Could have used more fries though. Everyone also liked the smoked meat knish, but none of us have ever had one before (so that’s not really saying much). One of the girls ordered the smoked turkey and she said it was moist, but didn’t say anything about the smoke.

                                                                                            We all had a great time, and the atmosphere felt appropriate; albeit definitely of the “hipster” crowd (not unlike some other small joints in the area). When we were leaving around 9:30, it was about half full (but maybe it gets busy again later) I felt the price was a bit steep, but not ridiculous. I understand the reasons for the adjustment, but it also means the prices will only continue to rise as the business expands. As others have mentioned, I don’t think I’ll make extra effort to visit anytime soon unless someone who hasn’t gone really wants to go or I’m in the area and hungry. Anyhow, I wish this deli all the best as it moves forward and continues to work out the minor (imho) kinks!

                                                                                            1. re: msprnt

                                                                                              msprnt, I agree with you 100% on the taste of the meat. I also remember it being much smokier and moister. I don't, however, recall it being any larger. It's still a 7 oz sandwich. But I've had it a couple times in the new location (both times since the new smoker arrived) and both times were exactly the same. Dry, a little on the chewy side and not nearly as much smoke as before. I thought maybe it was just my experience and thought I'd give it time to adjust. But it's been a little while and this seems to be the new norm?

                                                                                              1. re: SMOG

                                                                                                Actually, I agree and found my meat was a tad on the dry side, but I thought the smoke flavour was right on the money.

                                                                                                1. re: SMOG

                                                                                                  yeah... maybe it's the new industrial/commercial smoker?... i don't know anything about the specifics of the smoker, but maybe i'm expecting some smoke to hit me really hard... instead of subtly.... i really like (or remember) bold/strong flavours much more!.... i think i'd still prefer the sandwich to be warmer though

                                                                                            2. Wow...another caplansky's thread with 100 posts...and counting.

                                                                                              I'm not helping. So. Hard. To. Stop. Sharing. Opinion....Must. Post.

                                                                                              1. I have been waiting before visiting the new location, but the time is right , or else it will never be right for the fussy.

                                                                                                Two questions.

                                                                                                Is there a deli counter with take out?
                                                                                                Is there a bar or stools for single diners, in case I go alone?

                                                                                                From the reports, I get the impression it is more of a restaurant than a traditional deli.
                                                                                                Am I wrong about this?

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                  There is a bar with stools for single diners. I don't know enough about traditional delis to tell you what they are supposed to look like, but it looks like a restaurant to me. It certainly looks like more like a normal restaurant than Shwartz's (assuming that is a traditional deli look).

                                                                                                  1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                    There is a bar and stools. There is a centrally located cash that you can approach to order your take-away.

                                                                                                    I am unfamiliar with what constitutes a traditional deli in decor. There is table service, it is a restaurant, but, every time I've been, there have been many take-away orders.

                                                                                                    1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                      As you go in, bar and stools midway down left wall, cash beside it. Opposite door is a prep area. Kitchen in the back (I think). Tables and chairs everywhere else.

                                                                                                      Having only been to Coleman's in town, it has a kind of similar vibe but cleaner and brighter and yes, a bit more hipsterish. If your idea of deli decor is salamis hanging from the ceiling by a steam table then no, you won't see those here.

                                                                                                      1. re: Pincus

                                                                                                        Im pretty sure there's salami hanging by the carving station. As of 4:30 this afternoon there were 4 on the back wall.

                                                                                                        Most "traditional" delis I've been to have a takeout counter (and perhaps a bunch of photos on the wall of the owner posing with celebs) and thats the only difference I see. It's pretty plain and I dont ever recall leaving a deli talking about the decor (unless its hideous)

                                                                                                        1. re: Pincus

                                                                                                          "Everything was better at the Monarch."

                                                                                                          The old Norman Yoke syndrome...

                                                                                                          Hmmm...

                                                                                                          Utter BOLLOCKS.

                                                                                                          I believe that Zane is trying to do the very best that he can, and is open to each and every criticism.

                                                                                                          Unlike so may establishments ANYWHERE.

                                                                                                          1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                            To bring this back to the OP's rant:
                                                                                                            I remember a deli in the 'hood, Switzer's. There was a deli counter up front, and tables in the back. You could talk directly to the person making your sandwich.
                                                                                                            Zane's appears to be set up like a restaurant, More servers, nicer decor, and climbing prices.

                                                                                                        2. re: jayt90

                                                                                                          It's pretty spacious for a deli.
                                                                                                          Too meat smelling to be a restaurant.

                                                                                                          Bar stools check.
                                                                                                          Salamis hanging check.

                                                                                                          Prices: reasonable. (How much rent does Schwartzes pay for their $5 sandwich?)
                                                                                                          Lester's - which surely has a lower $/square foot - has a more expensive and crappier sandwich.

                                                                                                          Final note...... IT'S A SANDWICH, not cordon bleu.

                                                                                                          1. re: mikefly

                                                                                                            Schwartz serves a significantly smaller sandwich. Hell, I remember when it cost 45 cents...

                                                                                                        3. I went to Caplansky's yesterday for the first time since they had the issues with the meat supply. I had a great sandwich and my friend loved the smoked meat poutine. I tried one fry and it was excellent (crispy on the outside). From the time I got in, I had a #9 IPA in front of me within 1 minute and a sandwich in front of me within 5 minutes. My friend and I sat at the bar so maybe the service is better there, but it couldn't have been better.

                                                                                                          I also like the seasonal change in beer selection. Now that summer is over, they had the Amsterdam Octoberfest replacing the Denison's Weissbier.

                                                                                                          1. Here's a review of a nearby restaurant in Kensington, published on blogto:

                                                                                                            http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/bur...

                                                                                                            The reviewer went on the second day the place was open, didn't conduct a return visit, and was pretty negative about the place. The comments are interesting (and since Caplansky's is mentioned, this is tangentially on topic).

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: FrankD

                                                                                                              Weren't there reports here on the day Caplansky opened?

                                                                                                              1. re: FrankD

                                                                                                                And you'll note that even though their offerings are weird and priced accordingly ($8 for a plain 6oz hamburger with no pickles) .. the comments are all about how ridiculous it is to review a restaurant so soon after opening.

                                                                                                              2. I am still an aficionada of Centre Streeet Deli. I agree that sometimes you'll be disappointed and that the fried will taste bad, but most of the times, it is very-very good.

                                                                                                                1. Is there anyone else here that thinks the beef tongue at Caplansky's is just incredible?

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: alexthe5th

                                                                                                                    Love the tongue there! Not since Switzer's on Spadina closed over 20 years ago have I had a decent tongue sandwich. Caplansky's has their own spin on this classic, but it's great.

                                                                                                                  2. Had my first Caplansky's sandwich the other day. I ordered a medium fatty to go. I sat at the bar and had a pint of #9 while I waited. Got my beer right away, and the sandwich came well before I had finished my pint. Drove home (20 min) and immediately ate my sandwich. I am not an afficionado but here are my impressions: first, I was disappointed that the sandwich came with 2 packets of regular yellow mustard, after hearing about the different options in house. As for the sandwich, meat was smokey, peppery, not too salty. There was a good balance of lean/fatty bits. The texture was firm but not chewy, and a little dry. The bread was a fresh light rye.

                                                                                                                    Overall, I enjoyed my sandwich. But given all the hype over the place I was a bit underwhelmed. Further, I agree with those who think that the sandwich is overpriced. Having said that though, I will return to try a fatty in house.

                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: haggisdragon

                                                                                                                      For take out - perhaps ask them to spread the mustard on the sandwich for you - my bet is they don't have little take-out packages of all sorts of mustards.

                                                                                                                      However, perhaps they have (or could get) those little plastic condiment jobbies for this purpose - in which case, variety is possible in a take-out way.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mikefly

                                                                                                                        Yeah, at the time I just assumed they'd give me something better than that. Next time I would ask for sure.

                                                                                                                        1. re: haggisdragon

                                                                                                                          Ask the cashier when ordering to include a side of your choice (Honey, Dijon, Kozlics Market, Honey garlic, Horseradish, Triple C, Maple, Browns, wasabi, and a few others I know I'm forgetting)

                                                                                                                          full disclosure (and I forgot to put it in my earlier post in this thread, no dishonesty meant) - I work at Caplansky's

                                                                                                                          1. re: craigger

                                                                                                                            Here's another great tip for take out. If you order a pound of the full fatty, make sure you have a receptacle with some kind of seal. The first time I did this I walked home and discovered that the entire inside of my courier bag was bathed in the wonderful, smokey meat butter that had leaked from the paper sack and deli foil it was packed in. Luckily those courier bags are coated on the inside, so it was easily cleaned. Man, my cats were really into that bag.

                                                                                                                            Yesterday, I popped in for a sandwich and latkes and some a pound of smokey meat. I came well armed with a ziploc bag and it worked wonders.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Pantz

                                                                                                                              i was there on the weekend with my SO. he had the smoked meat (fatty) sandwich, i had the chopped liver sandwich, we shared a plate of latkes, and had a slice of bread pudding with coffee.

                                                                                                                              loved the smoked meat sandwich - totally satisfying, nice balance of fat to meat, appreciated the thicker slices. liked the chopped liver - i thought it was a bit bland and somewhat dry but i am partial to katz's version (not to mention my mother's:)). it was good though, just not as good as the smoked meat. i would do away with the tomato slices right now - while tomato and liver pate go well together, the tomatoes now are tasteless and these slices were too. i took them off and replaced them with the delicious pickle.

                                                                                                                              we were quite disappointed with the latkes, they are a side, and come as a set of 4 or 5 little one (maybe two) bite disks. that wasn't the problem though. they had almost no potato flavour. now i should disclaim that i've been mostly disatisfied with potato pancakes in this city, primarily because many places mix potato with flour, which i hate (i grew up on potato-only potato pancakes so anything else lacks flavour and texture to me). to me, caplansky's were not 'potatoey.' we really didn't like them.

                                                                                                                              bread pudding was dense and chocolatey, and satisfying, although we were probably too full to enjoy it fully.

                                                                                                                              i am already looking forward to the tongue sandwich for my next visit!

                                                                                                                        2. re: mikefly

                                                                                                                          They did at the Monarch; I asked for, and received, two tubs of Zane's to go with my two sandwiches.

                                                                                                                      2. Tried Caplansky's several months ago and was not overly impressed. However, given the continued good reviews, seeing the Toronto Sun review repost and being in Toronto today.... decided to give it another try.

                                                                                                                        Sadly, my impression is still mixed. On a positive note, the food was much better this time. Fortunately, I was able to have the smoked meat this time. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, but had a few reservations. First, and I know this is sacrilege, I don't like rye bread and asked to substitute challah, kaiser or onion. First response was no substitutions and I guess my incredulous stare prompted the server to "see what he could do". Also ordered the fries... this time they were much better and quite enjoyable. My SO order latkes. Typically, at deli's an appetizer order are more than enough for her. Here, she got 4 "mini" latkes about the size of a silver dollar for $4 plus an extra $1 for sour cream. Definitely not worth it. She was still hungry and ordered the smoked meat knish. This was not like any knish we've every tried before... I would call it Shepherd's pie with a pastry crust. Finished off the meal with an excellent cherry pie as recommended here.

                                                                                                                        Now for the extremely disappointing part... the service, or lack thereof. When we entered the restaurant, it was only about 1/2 full. We counted at least 4-5 servers flitting about so how could service be so bad? I assume the bald guy behind the counter is the manager but he did nothing beyond schmooze with customers at the bar.

                                                                                                                        The place seems to engage in group service, i.e. no particular person is assigned to the table. Service went from bad to worse. First we take a seat. Wait about 5 minutes to be acknowledged then finally have to ask for help. No cutlery was set up, nor offered. Had to ask for it. Water was promptly delivered but never refilled.

                                                                                                                        Still trying to figure out their serving strategy. Latkes and french fries arrived together. Smoked meat sandwich arrived 10 minutes later. Knish arrived 25 minutes later. Ordered drinks never showed and had to be asked for again. I already mentioned the comment about the rye bread. Well, they agreed to sub and they delivered it with rye anyway, promptly sent back. No refills to drinks offered. Knish arrived stone cold after waiting 30 minutes.

                                                                                                                        So... to sum up the experience. The smoked meat sandwich was really good, fries were tasty, latkes were good but microscopically sized, knish was not a knish and cold. IMHO not worth another visit. The sandwich and fries at $11 could not make up for the extremely poor, unprofessional service.

                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: cynalan

                                                                                                                          I liked the knish but I think it's more of a bureka than a knish. I probably wouldn't have liked it if it was cold, though.

                                                                                                                          1. re: cynalan

                                                                                                                            I went to the old location a while back, and was not impressed at all. The service was friendly but slow (after I told them I was in a hurry & was promised speedy sandwich since I was the only person eating at that time). The smoked meat sandwich was too dense, too lean & ultimately too dry for a satisfying experience. I must say I am partial to a thinner cut of the meat.

                                                                                                                            After reading all the reviews & posts, I think I will keep making the trek uptown to the old favorites like Centre Street Deli, Katz's, Pancer's, etc. And nothing beats picking up some fresh rugelach from the neighbouring bakeries after the meal.

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Moe Pancer's
                                                                                                                            3856 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M3H3N3, CA

                                                                                                                            Katz's Deli And Corned Beef Emporium
                                                                                                                            3300 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6A, CA

                                                                                                                            Centre Street Deli
                                                                                                                            1136 Centre St, Thornhill, ON L4J3M8, CA

                                                                                                                            1. re: cynalan

                                                                                                                              I finally made it to Caplansky's on Sunday after reading about it for so long. The place was packed when we got there. We waited in line for a few minutes. The service was friendly from the moment we walked in. There was a large group waiting in front of us. We were told that we would get the next table for two, but we opted to sit at the bar. We were promptly given coffee and water at the bar. Can't remember the exact order everything came out in, but everything came out reasonably around the same time. Having grown up going to delis, I do not expect everything to come out at the same time as in other restaurants. My date ordered the smoked meat sandwich, medium. Also the chicken knish. I ordered the smoked turkey sandwich. We shared fries and the pickle plate. The fries were fresh and salty and good. When my turkey sandwich came, the server suggested I try the Maple Mustard, as it is the staff favourite with the turkey. The turkey was moist and tasty. I tried a bit of the smoked meat gravy that comes with the knish, as well as a piece of the smoked meat. Both very good. The smoked meat was very moist and flavourful. Caplansky himself came by a couple times to ask how things were.

                                                                                                                              All in all, a great experience. Good service, good food and it felt great to go to a place with a real deli vibe downtown

                                                                                                                              1. re: cynalan

                                                                                                                                Ryan's the head bartender. I've always had fantastic service from him but I find you generally get good service at any bar. I don't like most servers.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jollyinebriate

                                                                                                                                  There is no "Ryan" behind the bar at Caplansky's. The man noted by Cynalan is named Peter.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: craigger

                                                                                                                                    Peter's right, I got my bartenders mixed up. The gist of what I said still stands.

                                                                                                                                2. re: cynalan

                                                                                                                                  Cynalan, I had a similar experience to yours a couple of months ago. Mid-afternoon. Not busy. Service started off fine: I placed my order. It went downhill from there. I think I was the only table she was serving but service was abysmal - she spent her time chatting with another woman at the cash/bar. After about 10 minutes, she brought over my coffee and said "Let me know if it's not hot enough". Why serve coffee that you know is not hot enough! Yep, it was lukewarm - but I couldn't let her know because she never came back. 2 or 3 people she knew came in and sat at the bar. She chatted and chatted. I waited and waited... and waited. I drank my tepid coffee, and waited some more. The kitchen finally brought over my food order. (Needless to say, no refill of tepid coffee offered.)

                                                                                                                                  The only saving grace: the smoked meat. It was sublime. Would I come back? Not sure. The food is excellent but, as a customer, I really object to being so totally ignored.

                                                                                                                                  P.S. I overheard 'Zane is in Montreal'. Perhaps the service is better when he is in-house?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ghoti

                                                                                                                                    I went there today wanting a good smoked meat sandwich and hearing all the reviews..Paid approx $15 for a large sandwich.. for take out..waited around 5mins.. place was packed around 5pm.. when i got the sandwich it was NOT large at all.. disappointing for 15bux.. i order the medium meat and it was FATTY as HELL!! Half of it was fat.. WTH!! when I finally picked out all the fat, i was left with about 60% of the original size.. i have to say the remaining sandwich was good.. but it was way too fat and way over priced.. Thumbs down!!