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Caplansky's- the emperor has NO clothes

I could never understand how/why Zane's smoked meat deserved such adulation

His PR spin machine is exceptional - from local scribblers to America's foodie oracles, they've all piled on with rave reviews of his artisanal smoke meat

They were swigging the same koolaid

I have eaten at both the Monarch and the new digs, several times, always spotty, and NEVER a really good SM sandwich

Corey Mintz of TorStar fame finally spilled the beans this week, the smoked meat is indedible (NO GOOD) at his own blog this week - http://porkosity.blogspot.com/2011/07...

Just days earlier the same Mr. Mintz (this time as a Star columnist) devoted tons of attention, and heaped additional praise, on Zane's growth/success phenom- but neglected to mention that the much anticipated fleet of trucks will be distributing sub-standard fare that he wouldn't eat himself

So much for a food writer playing straight with his readership (mind you it is the Star, after all

)

TG

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Caplansky's
356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

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  1. This was posted up in one of the Caplansky threads earlier today.

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    Caplansky's
    356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: ylsf

      Uhm, he also admitted that the sandwich now is not what it used to be so I don't get the not playing straight part. Isn't that exactly what he's doing? Like his product or not, and it's been awhile since I've had a sandwich there I don't get the delight and glee some people derive from announcing his failure. It's weird. As for the hype and pr machine, it was one guy cooking in the kitchen of a bar so that's kind of a dumb claim. Is it not reasonable to believe that maybe it was good on a certain scale, hence the attention, and now on a different scale is not as good? How far-fetched is that?

    2. I had a lot of great sandwiches at the Monarch, but I also had some practically inedible ones. The great ones were really great though. Unfortunately, I haven't had a great sandwich (or service rivaling the Monarch) since he moved, and after getting nothing but bad sandwiches a few times in a row, I stopped going.

      Some of the other menu options are decent eats, I guess, but I really wanted a good sandwich. I don't mind waiting for the next trip to MTL, or just grab some Goldin's.

      1. The story in the Star wasn't a review, it was about Caplansky's rise as a business.

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        Caplansky's
        356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

        1. Ah the Caplansky's pile-on continues. I've eaten at the Monarch since day 2, I've eaten at the new spot since day 1. I've had some great meals and some just so-so. The one common thread has always been that Zane attracts a lot of attention from a lot of directions, and the attendant rise in his profile and his success, has brought out the long knives.

          I enjoy the food. I love the smoked meat hash, and the sandwiches can go from average to stellar. Of course the service can be all over the map, but hey, it ain't Michelin dining so I'm okay with it. You don't like it? Great, more for the rest of us.

          What kills me is the vitriol spewed out because Zane and the resto gets lots of press. "He gets too much press he's a sellout. He doesn't get enough press he's not trying hard enough. He spends too much time in the kitchen so he can't talk to the hoi polloi on the floor, he spends too much time on the floor when he should be in the kitchen. He should have stayed in the Monarch, he should keep the menu smaller, how dare he cater, how dare he have fun, how come my sandwich doesn't taste exactly like it did last year when I was here?"

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          Caplansky's
          356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

          12 Replies
          1. re: ibraineater

            Being a sell-out is one thing. Making smoked meat that makes people wish they were eating Lester's is another story.

            1. re: tjr

              Agreed, but the never ending chorus that goes after the guy is getting repetitive. If someone doesn't like the food or the service, fine and dandy. Going after him for getting press and calling people deluded kool-aid drinkers for liking the food and the service doesn't contribute much to the discussion. I've never thought of it as Montreal smoked meat, because it was never sold as such. It's smoked meat - that's all.

              1. re: ibraineater

                I am not one of the bashers, ibraineater, but he kinda threw himself into the fire when he made references to Schwartz in the Toronto star article ....so some ppl would take that as he is in the montreal smoked meat game.

                1. re: plug

                  I beg to differ. He said that Schwartz's method is a house secret, as is his. If he'd said the Coca Cola formula or the Caramilk secret instead it wouldn't mean he's in the cola or choccie bar game. Using Schwartz in the article is relevant - it was talking about smoked meat - Montreal style or otherwise, not likening the two establishments in any other way.

                  At the end of the day though, I like the food, the atmosphere and the success. If and when I cease to like it, I'll go elsewhere, quietly, like an adult.

                  1. re: ibraineater

                    I concur. I enjoy Caplanskys product. Staff are always friendly to me as well. Admittedly, I haven't been in quite a while, but still order delivery every so often. He wasn't comparing himself to Schwartz's - he's just saying that much like how Schwartz's needs to protect their process, so does he - which is completely acceptable. I didn't find anything off-putting in the article. I will continue enjoying Caplanskys as the best smoke meat being offered in Toronto (note: I only order the 'fatty' variety). Who cares what Corey Mintz says.

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                    Caplansky's
                    356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                    1. re: justpete

                      I agree fully with ibrain and justpete. Zane has always made it 100% clear that he is not going after Schwartz's taste or techniques. His reference was simply an example of other proprietors who hold secrets because he is simply too nice a guy to just leave it at NO SECRETS FOR YOU. He prefers to use the "they don't either" defence to back his position. Fair enough.

                      When he closes down you can talk about what a sham he was, but as long as he stays as busy as he is with expansions to a truck, the repetitive naysayers sound like those typical spoiled Torontonian whiners who can't move on until everyone stops eating there.

                      1. re: justsayn

                        That's absurd. I supported Caplansky's since he opened as long as he delivered quality food. He stopped. I stopped supporting. Simple as that. His smoked meat isn't nearly as good as the smoked meat I enjoyed numerous times at the Monarch, which, imo, is the same reason people are complaining (including Mintz).

                        This isn't about revealing a secret or otherwise, it's about producing a quality product. Caplansky used to; he no longer does.

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                        Caplansky's
                        356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                        1. re: tjr

                          Yep, that's my take as well. I gleefully brought friends to the Monarch. College Street - never mind the wait - the food's just not as good. most of the time. Consistency is a virtue.(And I confess I haven't been there for six months at least.)

                          I have to admit a sneaking admiration for McDonald's; even though their food is not chowish at all, a Big Mac is the same in Toronto as it is in Tonawanda, Tacoma, or Tallahassee.

                          1. re: FrankD

                            No it is not.. A few years ago, when my children were younger , I tried McD in a number of locations in Torotno to see if I could take them there. I was amazed by the inconsistency. The burgers ranged from palatable to yuck.

                            I ended up taking the children just to the McD play area. Again remakably inconsistent. Ranged all the way down to yuck. My favourite was Eglinton and Bayview.

                            The best opinion came from one of my kiddies.
                            Daddy: We are going to McD (meaning to the playground).
                            Kiddie: Daddy, do we have to eat there?

                            That's my boy!

              2. re: tjr

                You couldn't have said it better. Hit up Caplansky's last night. Both my table and the table next to us were saying the same thing - "This makes us wish we were at CSD." Personally, I think CSD does deli better, and any U.S. BBQ chain does better brisket and smoking. Wish I had been able to try a Monarch version.

                (***edit) - Just so that there is some substance to my gripe, here were the problems. First off, everything tasted like the meat - The knish, the "gravy", the sandwich, my lemonade (jk), tasted like the meat. I realize that the smoked meat is a constituent of all the aforementioned articles, but the problem arises from the fact that the intensity of the meat's flavour and SMOKE is so high that it overpowers everything else.

                And it was salty - I found myself grasping for empty drink and water glasses to quench my thirst as our server, who was a little cutie with a cheerful attitude, left us hanging for the majority of the dinner; the restaurant wasn't that busy. Unless you are giving free samples away, I expect a certain level of service when I am exchanging cash for goods and services. However, I would add that I didn't think the prices were that unreasonable, especially in respect to Caplansky's location.

                Back to the food. The Knish, which I actually kind of liked (love the pastry) came surrounded by "gravy". The gravy was actually something more akin to coney sauce in texture, and was almost completely comprised of SM scraps & trims. This consistency and flavour did nothing to contrast or compliment the knish, but rather just added to the assault of the meat's flavour.

                And finally, the meat. While I didn't hate the pieces that were good, too much of the sandwich was inedible pieces of rubber-fat. I should have returned the sandwich but I didn't.

                Overall, although I enjoyed some aspects of the fare, the experience just wasn't that enjoyable, especially in relation to how some CH'ers rave about it. I stand by initial statement - CSD does deli better than Caplansky's (granted, at a somewhat inflated cost), and BBQ joints in the states do smoking much better. It's a unique product he peddles, and it's interesting dining experience, but it wouldn't be worth going back for at anytime. If I was a tongue eater perhaps...

                On a side note, someone mentioned to me that Caplansky's reminded them of deli they had in Philly.

                1. re: FishinWitGummyWorms

                  Who raves about it??

                  Years ago maybe. Certainly not anymore.

              3. re: ibraineater

                Yes? Hi! You make the great point. It is more the happiness for the rest of us now for the goodness (and sometimes the mediumness) of the smoke meat. The Caplansky is still the good and maybe the press will make the inquistiveness of the rest to see for themselves that it is still the good smoked meat with out the silly attitudes from the 'cool peoples'.

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                Caplansky's
                356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

              4. Why limit the thesis put forth in this discussion to Caplansky's ?
                I feel that the same complaint can be made against almost any restaurant. I exclude, of course, the fast-food chains whose food and service remains constantly the same.
                Doesn't the quality of food and service of independent eating establishments always seem to deteriorate over time? Or perhaps this phenomenon is also partly the result of human nature.
                Isn't it a fact that when we recall a past experience, our memories always seem to magnify pleasant experiences and minimize unpleasant ones? Why, for instance, do we always remember the past as "the good old days"? In fact they were not nearly as good at the time we experienced them as they seem when recalled later on.

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                Caplansky's
                356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA