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May 4, 2011 12:53 PM

Montreal smoked meat--The Main v. Schwartz's

We recently visited and tried the smoked meat at both establishments.

Both were very good but The Main was truly superior. Much more moist, we got "medium" at both places, and much more flavor with more pepper and such. I can't figure out why people think Schwartz's is so much better.

The Main had much better fries too, they tasted like...potatoes! Really really good potatoes.

And the Main had more room around the tables. We have a baby so that mattered to us.

And the wait, well because people flock to Schwartz's (but why??) the wait is not long at The Main so maybe that is a good thing and I should shut up and count my blessings!

Just better!

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  1. I like the MAIN a lot. A lot of value for the money on steaks. I like the Main burger, all dressed with slices of smoke meat!!
    Their smoke meat taste a lot like the one from Schwartz except they are less salty. I have asked the owner if this was what he looked for in a smoke meat. He said, the slatiness varied on Supply and demand. When demand was big, the less time the meat stayed in their brine. In other words the MAIN does not have strick standards on their saltiness. Come to think of it the fries or more or less crispy depending on the day you go.
    My favorite smoke meat comes from Schwartz. Standards are strickly the same every day: always tasting the same. I like mine on the fatty side; The warmer they are the more moisture they have and the bigger is the taste. The bottom line to which is taste best is a matter of personal taste.
    I like the steaks better at the MAIN and the smoke meat at Schwartz.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ruy Blas

      Consistency has been a problem at the Main for at least 15 years, and it's probably at least partly related to bigger fluctuations in demand vs. Schwartz's steady demand, as you suggest. (Though it shouldn't affect things like fries...)

      The inconsistency rarely results in a truly bad experience, but unfortunately the risk is always there.

      1. re: Ruy Blas

        Like Ruy Blas said, smoked meat is superior at Schwartz (its seriously no contest), but The Main is better at everything else (although I've always liked Schwartz fries too). I also love the burgers and steaks at the Main.

        1. re: Shattered

          I prefer the main steakhouse's smoke meat because for my taste buds it's less salty than schwartz. Everytime I eat schwartz, I wake up in the middle of the night with a dry mouth and drink a few glasses of water. That's the schwartz effect on me.

          1. re: maj54us

            I think with the Main the other brining flavors come through much more. It is more peppery and herbal. Just a nicer experience overall.

          2. re: Shattered

            I guess everyone can agree to disagree, but I'm with Shattered and Ruy Blas and +1 for Schwartz's smoked meat. The taste and texture of their smoked meat can't be beat.

        2. ya, Main's might be more moist... but Moist = fake plasticy texture ala Chenoys, Belle Province, or grocery store smoked meat

          Belle Province
          20 Rue Brunet, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QC J3G4S6, CA

          Chenoy's Restaurant
          170 Rue De La Visitation, Saint-Charles-Borromee, QC J6E4N3, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: J1836

            I'm sorry but main's smoked meat style and taste is nowhere near belle province's smoked meat. I would also bet that belle province serve what I would call the "commercial style smoke meat". Not the old fashioned style that schwartz and main have.

          2. There was a smoked meat crawl organised about 7 or 8 years ago & we taste tested hot medium fat sandwiches & plates from Schwartzs, The Main, Snowdon Del & Georges (can't remember if we also hit Abies? Vivre Manger - if you read this did we do Abies too?). Everyone agreed that Schwartzs was #1 by large margin, followed by Snowdon Del, Georges & The Main. We thought that the Main's smoked meat was too moist (artificial moistness maybe) and not as flavourful as Schwartzs. The Main ranked last.

            17 Replies
            1. re: RhondaB

              @RhondaB: Adresses for snowdon del and Georges would be nice

              What do you mean by artificial moistness? and how is that achieved?

              1. re: maj54us

                "Artificial moistness" happens when phosphates are injected into the meat. It then soaks up large amounts of water and gets that "wet" texture you find in cheap industrial ham.


                I've never heard of Georges.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  Perhaps this? I found a few references in some other Chowhound threads. And one TripAdvisor review says they've got some former Schwartz's folks working there, not sure if that's accurate.

                  George's Deli Restaurant
                  3750 Boul. St-Martin Ouest, Laval
                  (450) 681-7957

                  1. re: kpzoo

                    Yes, George of George Deli was a ex-Schwartz's employee(not sure how many ex-Schwartz's employees work there). Abie's probably has the most ex-Schwartz's employees. Abie was a former Schwartz's manager & his father was a Schwartz's employee for several decades.

                  2. re: SnackHappy

                    I should add that phosphates are not necessarily injected. A regular wet cure that includes phosphate will increase water retention in the meat. Too much phosphate gives a gelatinous texture. Industrial meat curing operations are tempted to add too much phosphate because the extra water adds weight to the meat. That's why cheap ham so gross and gelatinous.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      "...not necessarily injected..." true, but if you're talking cheap, its almost always injected - speeding up the curing time for a quicker to-the-market, cheapo product.

                    2. re: SnackHappy

                      Thanks SnackHappy.
                      I never heard of deli snowdon before and now remember passing in front of it but never was attracted to try it. Will certainly donext time and report on my experience.

                  3. re: RhondaB

                    what about Le Roi due Smoke Meat on St.Hubert. I remember it being very good, mind you haven't been there in ages

                    1. re: randa_h74

                      come on nothing close to schwartzs!

                      1. re: kpaxonite

                        maybe my memories have been skewed after all this time! :)

                      2. re: randa_h74

                        Le Roi du Smoked Meat serves crap industrial smoked meat.

                        1. re: randa_h74

                          @randa_h74: Not discussing tastes but in my book, Le Roi du Smoke meat on St-Hubert is the kind of place that serves Commercial Industrial Red Smoked Meat or at least taste like it. But it's okay if you like it. You can't argue what people like. Hope I wasn't to mean this time ;)

                          1. re: maj54us

                            You're from Montreal & never heard of Snowdon Deli all these years? That surprises me, especially if you know about smoked meat delis.

                            1. re: BLM

                              @BLM: I'm not an expert on smoke meat. As mentioned before why I like main compared to schwartz it's because schwartz is to salty for my taste buds. What I noticed over the years is that each place have their own particular taste. It's either good or not for my taste buds. But one thing is sure, places that serve the one that taste like or is commercial stuff should be avoided.

                              I've never been to Snowdon Deli or DeliSnowdon. Was never attracted to go in and never heard anyone rave about it. Looking forward to go and try their smoke meat sandwich. I hope they are like Schwartz and Main and make their own smoke meat although rumors is that Main doesn't do their own anymore (to be investigated). Still a good sandwich although once in a while you get your hit and miss moment. They never caused any problem when I ask them to replace the sandwich.

                            2. re: maj54us

                              i'll give you points for being diplomatic...

                              1. re: randa_h74

                                not diplomatically mean I hope ;) lol

                          2. re: RhondaB

                            No you didn't cover Abie's if my memory is correct. Most people don't rank Abie's among the top 3 smoked meat delis in Montreal.

                          3. One more vote for Schartz's here - the best is simply the best!

                            1. I also prefer The Main, although I agree that the quality can be inconsistent.

                              The sandwiches from Schwartz's are often soggy, and there are sometimes hard chewy bits (tendon?) in the smoked meat.