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Canter's is Slipping

EarlyBird Aug 23, 2012 03:07 PM

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.

  1. A5 KOBE Aug 23, 2012 03:20 PM

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

    1. c
      Clyde Aug 23, 2012 03:28 PM

      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. Ciao Bob Aug 23, 2012 03:29 PM

        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
          EarlyBird Aug 23, 2012 03:53 PM

          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
            cls Aug 23, 2012 08:42 PM

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

            1. re: cls
              EarlyBird Aug 24, 2012 08:57 AM

              "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
                cls Aug 24, 2012 10:35 AM

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

                1. re: cls
                  Mr Taster Aug 24, 2012 10:48 AM

                  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 Assistant™ 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
              Ciao Bob Aug 24, 2012 09:23 AM

              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. l
            linus Aug 23, 2012 03:38 PM

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

            1. d
              Dirtywextraolives Aug 23, 2012 09:13 PM

              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
                lapizzamaven Aug 24, 2012 11:31 AM

                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
                  Mr Taster Aug 24, 2012 11:40 AM

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


                  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
                    Servorg Aug 24, 2012 12:08 PM

                    "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
                      Mr Taster Aug 24, 2012 12:24 PM

                      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
                        lapizzamaven Aug 28, 2012 10:28 PM

                        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!

              2. Golem Aug 24, 2012 12:25 PM

                Well, looks like someone dropped the "B" word: Brent's. Yes, compared to Brent's, Canter's is slipping. As a youth (many moons ago), I remember hearing that Canter's was slipping. That was in the 60's. In reality, it's never been very good. Sometimes just good is fine, and Canter's being where it is and what it does, is just fine enough. There are better delis in LA, but there is only one Canter's.

                And yes, Brent's is the best in LA, overall (IMHO). But if there is better, I'm ready to find out myself. mmmm

                3 Replies
                1. re: Golem
                  mucho gordo Aug 24, 2012 12:36 PM

                  And Canter's wasn't the cleanest place around then either.

                  1. re: mucho gordo
                    Dirtywextraolives Aug 24, 2012 06:13 PM

                    Most of them aren't......

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                      mucho gordo Aug 24, 2012 07:43 PM

                      True, but I heard that Diamond's bakery has cleaned up their act.

                2. n
                  nosh Aug 24, 2012 05:29 PM

                  If you want a good Jewish deli sandwich, well-filled but not outrageous, at a good price ($8.50), try the somewhat nearby Label's Table, on Pico a few blocks east of Beverly, on the south side of the street with parking in the back.

                  1. p
                    pnutbuddah Aug 25, 2012 11:56 PM

                    I eat only pastrami sandwiches, chopped liver, potato salad, coleslaw and the occassional breakfast at Canters, for twenty years. It been consistent and IMHO the best pastrami after Langer's. Was there a couple of weeks ago and I notice no slippage.
                    Other than Brent's, Canter's and Langer's all other LA pastrami is meh.
                    For me, it is Brent's that has slipped in the past few years. I don't get there as often, and i used to lust for the rueben. Their cabbage soup is atill very good, but overall the quantity may be the same, but not the quality,

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pnutbuddah
                      wienermobile Aug 26, 2012 08:39 AM

                      Two other very good pastrami's in LA in addition to Langer's you might want to try are Plan Check in West LA ( PASTRAMI NOSH sandwich with double smoked pastrami, melty swiss cheese, kimchi mustard, pickles, sunny fried egg ) so good.

                      and Umamicatessen in downtown LA for their extra thick hand cut pastrami sandwich with only deli mustard on rye . I was impressed (although the rye can't touch Langer's).

                      1. re: wienermobile
                        Dirtywextraolives Aug 26, 2012 11:43 AM

                        That pastrami at Plan Check blows away any other I've had in the city, which includes Langers, Canters, & Oinkster..... Melted in my mouth....

                    2. ipsedixit Aug 28, 2012 10:16 PM

                      Maybe they heard your cries of anguish?


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        bad nono Aug 28, 2012 10:45 PM

                        But they don't need to change the menu, just to hire chefs who can cook...

                      2. Tripeler Aug 29, 2012 12:40 AM

                        I think there have been regular stories about Canter's slipping since the Truman administration.

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