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Montreal Smoked Meat

Day Man Fighter of Night Man Feb 2, 2010 11:04 AM

I think I already know the answer to this question, but has anyone found a place making montreal smoked meat lately? The last post I could find ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/21068 ) was from awhile back, so I thought I would try again.

My Canadian friend is so obsessed with smoked meat, that despite the fact that is a vegetarian, when he visits Montreal he still gets smoked meat. With such a large Canadian population I am surprised that no place around here serves it.

  1. elvisahmed Aug 2, 2013 09:51 AM

    So guess what I found at the Sobeys on Front & Sherbourne. A pack of Schwartz Smoked meat. I recall reading it would be sold at Sobeys a while back but hasn't seen it around. I personally am not a fan of Schwartz as I like Rueben's better. For vacu-packed one's I like one Sold at CostCo from Dunn's. Anyway will report back when I have a had chance to test this one and compare to other versions.
    In the meantime enjoy the pic (500 grams for a tad over 10$)

    8 Replies
    1. re: elvisahmed
      bbulkow Aug 2, 2013 01:34 PM

      That's in Toronto, right? Did you bring it back to the bay area? Did you have trouble with customs?

      1. re: bbulkow
        elvisahmed Aug 2, 2013 01:37 PM

        Yup Toronto. Custom didn't say anything its cryopacked. Same as the Dunn's sold at CostCo's here in Canada.

        1. re: elvisahmed
          BernalKC Aug 2, 2013 01:50 PM

          Customs had no problem confiscating my cryopacked reindeer jerky bought at the Helsinki airport. Taught me to a) never carry meat into the US, or b) never declare it.

          1. re: elvisahmed
            Melanie Wong Aug 2, 2013 02:01 PM

            Cryovac doesn't matter. It depends on the country of origin, type of meat, and how it was processed, and that is a moving target. Something that was considered safe can suddenly be on the banned list.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              BernalKC Aug 2, 2013 02:38 PM

              I guess since Finland is EU, I was caught in the mad cow/mad reindeer scare. My son still laments that he was robbed of his gift. Me too.

              1. re: BernalKC
                Melanie Wong Aug 2, 2013 02:42 PM

                I know the feeling. My Hungarian salamis were confiscated at LAX. I did declare meat products. I always do, since I do not want any future hassles with Customs.

            2. re: elvisahmed
              bbulkow Aug 2, 2013 02:28 PM

              So you mean Customs didn't find it because it's cryopacked?

              1. re: bbulkow
                elvisahmed Aug 2, 2013 02:32 PM

                No declared it don't want to not declare anything to customs. They had look at box and commented. OK its cooked and cryopacked so admissible they already know I was coming from Canada so not sure they checked for country of origin.

        2. Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2013 09:29 AM

          Some people say that the eccentric pastrami at The Refuge is quite similar to Montreal smoked meat.


          5 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            bbulkow Aug 1, 2013 09:43 AM

            I ate both Lester's and Schwartz's in the last few days, and:

            1) Schwartz's is superior, and they have a big stack of cryo-pack right by the door. If you can get it across the border, they're happy to ship. Schwartz's will also allow you to specify how fatty a cut you want in the take-out line, not sure about the delivery stuff.

            2) Refuge's pastrami is noticeably close to Schwartz's smoked meat. Both have that very fine-grain cut, no "smoke". I would strongly recommend anyone jonesing for Montreal Smoked Meat give it a try.

            I don't know if you could get the Refuge to make you a "montreal sandwich", which is this funny cradle of very thin rye bread, instead of a roll. It's hard to describe, you kind of make a trough out of bread. I have a picture, but it's on my phone. Almost no toppings, maybe just a hint of mustard (tasted like Beaver, which they were selling near the cryopacks).

            1. re: bbulkow
              wolfe Aug 1, 2013 09:50 AM

              For those who want to try Montreal Meat a new pop up restaurant called Augie's Montreal Smoke Meat will be selling REAL montreal smoke meat and poutine with St Hubert gravy at Beauty's Bagel Shop 3838 Telgraph ave in Oakland CA every Monday from 11-3pm during the month of August.

              1. re: wolfe
                bbulkow Aug 1, 2013 11:49 AM

                If it's authentic Montreal, they will be closed during the hours they proclaim to be open.

                1. re: wolfe
                  soupçon Aug 1, 2013 09:32 PM

                  Just in time for the BART strike :(

                  Beauty's also makes Montreal-style bagels.

                  1. re: wolfe
                    Pogemon Aug 1, 2013 10:13 PM

                    I've tried Augie's Smoke Meat and it's amazing. The best of the pastrami and corned beef world combined and better than them both. Monday lunch for sure!

              2. Melanie Wong Mar 2, 2010 04:18 PM

                And research into the origins of Montreal smoked meat

                1 Reply
                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  veronaraven Mar 15, 2010 12:13 PM

                  The closest in California is the Redondo Beach Cafe (run by ex-Montrealers). That would be about 400 miles away tho...ask if he ships it?

                2. elvisahmed Feb 4, 2010 12:01 PM

                  There are some places in montreal that ship to USA here is the one I found:
                  Haven't tried this place but seems to have good reviews from the Montreal forum of chowhound.
                  Adding to what is sold here in Canada at Costco from Dunn's. I have tried the smoke meat pizza which pretty good and have seen big briskets from Dunn's being sold as well. I prefer the individual packed precut 6 packs which are good for making a good sized sandwich.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: elvisahmed
                    OliverB Jul 31, 2013 09:21 PM

                    Lester's probably sources the same generic stuff that Dunn's packages. It's all the same gross fake looking pink nitrate pumped flavorless crap that's sold throughout the city. Call Schwartz's. They mail-order, at least they did up until the buy-out a year or two ago. You used to be able to place a freight order online but I think you need to call them directly now.

                  2. k
                    Kayde Feb 3, 2010 07:04 PM

                    This makes me hungry. A long time ago I used to live in Montreal at St. Urbain & Mont-Royale - and I LOVE smoked meat, though pastrami can make me very happy. I'll second Melanie Wong - for a smoked meat fix, forget Brooklyn. Just go to Montreal.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Kayde
                      elvisahmed Feb 3, 2010 11:31 PM

                      I agree Montreal is the place to go for smoked meat. I personally prefer Reueben's over Schwartz. As for buying smoked meat I have bought a 6 pack from Dunn's at the Costco's here in Canada and it is pretty tasty.

                      1. re: elvisahmed
                        Melanie Wong Feb 3, 2010 11:40 PM

                        Now that's an idea, maybe we can lobby our local Costco stores to stock smoked meat.

                    2. ellen4441 Feb 2, 2010 10:52 PM

                      the first Montreal smoked meat has arrived in the U.S.A., and it's only a 6 hour plane
                      ride away from you !!

                      It's in Brooklyn, NY, called the Mile End deli.....(www.mileendbrooklyn.com
                      )It just opened last week, but they are having a tough time keeping up with demand...
                      (as in "we are closing way early , cuz we are out of meat"...)

                      I started a thread on the "outer boroughs forum .....as it's a short subway ride from

                      I tried going there yesterday, but they were closed for the whole day, to "catch up" on making the smoked meat!!!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ellen4441
                        Melanie Wong Feb 3, 2010 11:12 AM

                        Not your fault, but I slogged through the 97 posts in that thread to find little discussion of the food. I think I'll fly to Montreal again to get my smoked meat, not Brooklyn.

                        For those interested in hearing about the future of smoked meat and other deli classics,

                        6:30 pm Tuesday, February 9
                        Reception and snacks at 6pm
                        Registration/Will Call check-in from 5:45 on

                        **Restaurant will be closed from 4 pm on**

                        Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door

                        Proceeds benefit The Center for Ecoliteracy
                        Referendum on The Deli Menu
                        Can a retro cuisine be part of the avant-garde?

                        Michael Pollan, Journalist, Author: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food
                        Gil Friend, CEO of Natural Logic, Author: The Truth About Green Business
                        Willow Rosenthal, Founder, City Slicker Farms
                        Karen Adelman, Co-Owner, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli
                        Peter Levitt, Co-Owner, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli
                        Moderator: Evan Kleiman, Host, KCRW’s Good Food, Owner-Chef, Angeli Caffe

                      2. Melanie Wong Feb 2, 2010 06:59 PM

                        Not Montreal smoked meat, but something your friend might be willing to fall off the vegetable wagon for would be Memphis Minnie's house-smoked pastrami. It's made from a fattier cut (more flavor!) and has a heavier smoke component. Only served on Wednesdays, which would be tomorrow.

                        Memphis Minnie's BBQ
                        576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          whiner Feb 2, 2010 10:08 PM


                          Thanks for this; I, too, have a craving for smoked meat (haven't had it in years) and while obviously not the same, this sounds like it might be really good (love me some pastrami as well)... I'll be checking it out soon!

                          1. re: whiner
                            Melanie Wong Feb 2, 2010 10:37 PM

                            I noticed on MM's website menu (listed under "specials") that the pastrami is also available as a Reuben sandwich.

                          2. re: Melanie Wong
                            david de berkeley Feb 4, 2010 11:19 AM

                            Thanks Melanie for this great bit of information. I went yesterday to test this sandwich out, very delicious. A lot more smoke than regular pastrami, but in a good way. Also, definitely not navel pastrami, a little "looser," some other cut, maybe brisket. But again, still a great sandwich.

                            A couple minor complaints/points: I wish there was a bit more meat on the sandwich (a friend had the two meat combination plate and was still hungry). The sandwich is served on a crusty roll (wish it was rye) along side a middling pickle spear. The potato salad was solid, though.

                            It's been a while since I've been to Memphis Minnie's, though I feel like pastrami Wednesday will be in my near future.

                            1. re: david de berkeley
                              Melanie Wong Feb 4, 2010 01:57 PM

                              It's been some years now since my last pastrami san at MM's, so it's great to have an update. Did you get the "regular" sandwich with the barbecue sauce? Or is the Reuben made on a crusty roll? <shudder>

                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                david de berkeley Feb 4, 2010 04:51 PM

                                I had the regular sandwich with what I think was the mustard barbeque sauce already spread on the roll. There was a reuben hanging out on a warmer / griddle by the cash register. I think it was on rye. It was also on the small side =(

                                1. re: david de berkeley
                                  Civil Bear Feb 4, 2010 06:09 PM

                                  Yup, the Reuben comes on grilled rye. Next time, I'm sure they would do the same for the regular pastrami if you ask.

                              2. re: david de berkeley
                                Melanie Wong Feb 10, 2010 12:13 AM

                                Any chance I could re-route you to Orson for the housecured pastrami for your wednesday lunch?
                                I haven't tried it and would love to hear your take on it compared to MM's.

                                Orson Restaurant
                                508 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                  david de berkeley Feb 10, 2010 11:03 AM

                                  More great info, thanks Melanie. I'm not sure how I'm going to make the trek from my office to 4th and Brannan, but this is on the "to do" list.

                                  1. re: david de berkeley
                                    Melanie Wong Mar 2, 2010 04:14 PM

                                    ddb, today Tablehopper announced that Orson would start weekend brunch service and the pastrami gets a mention. Just in case that makes it easier for you to check out.

                            2. m
                              maigre Feb 2, 2010 02:48 PM

                              I just happen to have read David Sax's "Save the Deli," kind of a casual history and world tour of Jewish deli food. In it, he points out that Lester's Deli (http://lestersdeli.com) in Montreal does mail order and their website certainly supports the claim. Sax is from Toronto, but his parents and greater family are from Montreal and he writes with great enthusiasm about the Montreal deli scene. I don't know if any of the other Montreal delis ship out of the Montreal area. It seems that the noted Schwartz's doesn't.

                              I realize you're looking for a more local rendition of smoked meat, but maybe this will be an adequate substitute. If you give it a try, let us know what you think. I'll do the same.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: maigre
                                kpzoo Feb 7, 2010 09:46 AM

                                Schwartz's does deliver out of Montreal (FedEx, I believe) - they satisfy ex-Montrealers' smoked meat cravings all over Canada. The problem is getting Canadian beef across the US border due to customs regulations, which would also be an issue for Lesters.


                                1. re: kpzoo
                                  BernalKC Feb 7, 2010 10:37 AM

                                  Do you happen to know how much an individual can carry accross the border? My daughter is a student there, and I'm thinking I should commission her. Max out on Schwartz's, bagels, May Wests...

                                  1. re: BernalKC
                                    kpzoo Feb 7, 2010 11:20 AM

                                    It's not the quantity, it's the post mad-cow rules about importing Canadian beef. :-(

                                    I've heard some border agents are more lenient than others. Good luck!

                              2. BernalKC Feb 2, 2010 01:37 PM

                                The odds of getting correctly prepared Montreal smoked meat here are the same as the odds of finding a good Mission style burrito in Montreal. Pretty close to zero. But the odds of finding a suitably close pastrami alternative locally are a lot better than the odds of satisfying a burrito Jones there.

                                1. wolfe Feb 2, 2010 01:21 PM

                                  What is Montreal Smoked Meat?
                                  edit p.s.
                                  "With such a large Canadian population I am surprised that no place around here serves it."
                                  We finally got a decent poutine and that was only a sometimes thing at Gregoire.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: wolfe
                                    Day Man Fighter of Night Man Feb 2, 2010 03:55 PM

                                    I saw Gregoire has poutine on the menu this month...from your post I take it that it was good?

                                    1. re: Day Man Fighter of Night Man
                                      wolfe Feb 2, 2010 04:05 PM

                                      Here is the pertinent link with a poster that knows poutine. I am afraid the closest I came was chips and malt vinegar in Windsor, Ontario.

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