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Canter's is Slipping

After numerous recent occasions of eating at Canter's and taking home their food, I find myself sounding like Woody Allen's joking complaint, "The food was terrible...and so little of it!" I've definitely noticed Canter's quality and quantity slipping recently, especially with take out orders.

First, Canter's skyscraper-high sandwiches - when served in the restaurant - are becoming more like medium office building-size. Nothing too dramatic, but they are definitely putting noticeably less meat on their sandwiches, while of course the prices haven't gone down accordingly.

But when you order at the counter to take home, they literally cut the portion sizes in half.

Secondly, adding to the insult of far less meat, they are also using the worst of the pastrami in take out orders (only). Last night my wife brought home two sandwiches which were not only half the size of what they would have given us at the restaurant, but the pastrami was more like fatty ham than anything like corned beef. It was a pretty lousy sandwich given the place, and a real rip-off given the price.

I called and complained, and to their credit, the manager apologized and stated she'd give us two pastrami sandwiches on the house next time. I'll just make sure I get them in the restaurant and not take out.

Let me attempt to pre-emptively thwart the dozen or so responses that "Langer's makes a better pastrami" (I agree), or "Canter's "sucks." Baloney. It's a great deli which has had a hugely devoted following for generations because it's darned good food. I just hope they figure out the glitches described above, intentional or otherwise.

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  1. It was my understanding that you ALWAYS get corned beef at Canters.

    1. Worst piece of smoked fish I ever had was from Canters at the Deli counter.... other than that, sorry to hear about the take out issue. I notice that a lot with sushi places. I'll order Chirachi to go and the amount of rice AND fish is way less than when I'd eat the restaurant.

      1. Newsflash - Canter's is slipping. The shocking details at 11. In other related news Pink's has a line out front!

        6 Replies
        1. re: Ciao Bob

          Sorry Bob! I guess I don't hang out with the cool kids enough. When/how did you notice they were slipping?

          1. re: EarlyBird

            I think he means that Canter's has been regarded as bad for a couple of generations now.

            1. re: cls

              "Regarded as bad" by whom? The army of people who have kept the restaurant jammed for the past couple of generations? Any restaurant in LA would love to be considered as "bad" as Canter's has supposedly for the past couple of generations.

              1. re: EarlyBird

                Just Ciao Bob and Me.
                Maybe one or two others.

                1. re: cls

                  At the extreme risk of converting this thread into a flurry of "Canter's sucks" plus ones, I'll add my voice to the fray.

                  I will say the matzo ball soup is fine, but outrageously expensive. I do order it when my Lovely Tasting Assistantâ„¢ or I am sick.

                  The challah from the bakery is dry (and couple of bucks more expensive) when compared with the wondrous stuff you can get from Diamond Bakery just a block down the street.

                  Even something as simple as a kosher salami sandwich tastes off, stale, old, and that's a purchasing decision, nothing to do with the still of the cooks/bakers. The last time I ate at the restaurant was for their corned beef during their big anniversary sale ($0.80 for a corned beef sandwich, coleslaw, pickle and rugelach) and it was fine. (I have a feeling this had to do with volume and turnover, since that's what everone was getting.) Oddly, the to-go line for these 80 cent sandwiches was outrageously long, but there was no wait to actually sit in the restaurant and dine, which I think speaks to the atmosphere (and odor) of the place which is sort of nauseating in and of itself.

                  Years ago (before I knew better) I ordered some deli salami to go and watched as the un-gloved deli guy grabbed some greying generic loaf from the case and sliced the salami into his naked hand and onto the paper. I complained and the manager gave me a new packet of salami for free. (Kudos to the management for this, and for the gracious way that they handled Bob's issue.)

                  Since then, I've seen the same un-gloved practice, so I have to specify to the deli men that I want them to wear gloves. I also realized that you can specify Hebrew National salami, which somehow doesn't have the same funk and greying aesthetic as the standard kosher salami they reach for when you order it. Sometimes I order a 1/4 lb of that, and then buy a square challah (no seeds, unsliced) from Diamond Bakery, bring it home, grab the Gulden's and regress into countless childhood lunchbox memories.

                  Mr Taster

            2. re: EarlyBird

              In the mid- to the late-1990's I spent nearly every Tuesday night having dinner and drinks at the Kibbitz room, as my SO rocked the house. Even then, the only thing everyone agreed upon was that Canter's had slipped and continued to slip before our very eyes and taste buds.
              It was a great scene: from the not-too-cool-but-smoked-a-lot-of-Kools (down and out homeless and alkies; blue haired, and no haired, retirees) and the far-too-cool-for-school (various members of every up-and-coming, or already made-it, band in LA), all chowing down on Canter's average deli food. I kept petitioning Bella to name my regular sandwich after me - Dr. Bob's BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tuna on Toasted Rye) - she never did. I loved the bacon - it was thick, very crisp, and had a rich, smoky flavor (ANYONE KNOW WHERE THAT BACON COMES, OR CAME, FROM???).
              My few visits back in the last two decades have not even reached that "already-slipped" level.

          2. "baloney" is a good way to describe how canter's pastrami sandwiches taste.

            1. I'm afraid they are probably a victim of the sucky economy. Lots of places are cutting way back. Gotta say, tho, I never felt that any of the delis have EVER been a good deal, food to price ratio-wise, IMO.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                Id beg to differ about deli deals...for most normal human beings, a pastrami or corned beef or turkey or whatever sandwich at Brent's can easily feed 2 people, maybe 3...that breaks down the price point to bargain level!

                1. re: lapizzamaven

                  I was just in Baltimore, where Attman's Deli charges $7 for a corned beef or pastrami sandwich.

                  http://www.attmansdeli.com/orderlunch...
                  http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/08/at...

                  I do wish our LA delis reflected these prices. I could do without the monolithic portions of Carnegie, or the less-monolithic-but-still-more-than-I-can-handle sizes as Brent's.

                  Mr Taster

                  P.S. Notice in the photo-- they have a Kibbitz Room too! (Though theirs is not a night club-- it's just where you sit down and kibbitz while eating your corned beef.)

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    "I was just in Baltimore, where Attman's Deli charges $7 for a corned beef or pastrami sandwich."

                    Reflecting the differences in cost of living and cost of doing business between the two locations.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Sure re: the cost of doing business, but that's not really the issue. Attman's ($7) is a smaller sandwich than Brent's ($13), and the prices reflect that. My main point was that I'd prefer to have the option of buying an Attman's-sized sandwich at Brent's, say for $8-$9.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        My option at Brent's is to either split a sandwich or order a half w/extra bread and still have enough pastrami to make one normal sized sandwich. that's the cheaper and healthier option. eh, eh, eh...not that i haven't also taken the more expensive and less healthy option to drown in that meaty flood!