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Montreal Smoked Meat

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.

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  1. 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

      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

        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.

    2. 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. 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

          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

            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

              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. 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


            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

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

            2. re: Melanie Wong

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                  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

                    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

                      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. 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

                  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. 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

                    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

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

                  2. 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

                      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.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

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


                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          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

                            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

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

                              1. re: wolfe

                                Just in time for the BART strike :(

                                Beauty's also makes Montreal-style bagels.

                                1. re: wolfe

                                  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. 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

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

                                1. re: bbulkow

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

                                  1. re: elvisahmed

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                          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

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

                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                          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.