Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
May 1, 2013 06:48 AM

Ben & Izzy's

Anybody been since it finally opened..very curious to see some reviews.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm actually surprised with all the enthusiasm on here that more people haven't gone and posted about it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: radiopolitic

      Probably because it's way up in god's country. Half kidding.

        1. re: millygirl

          You're right but it's fun doing my bi-weekly Jewish food runs up Bathurst.

          However, I hope that Ben and Izzy's decides one day to relocate next to Harbord Bakery, along with Daiter's, Gryfe's, Toronto Kosher, Hartman's etc.

          If that happens, I'll be able to swing by Sanagan's after that to pick up some pork chops.

          1. re: acd123

            I wouldn't count on it. They're in the perfect location for their demographic.

            1. re: kwass

              I agree 100%. I was daydreaming.

            2. re: acd123

              True enough.

              Add makes my trek to Baycrest all the more inviting. My aunt may even see me more often.

              It's all good and I can't wait to visit.

        2. I actually checked it out on Sunday but was too lazy to come back here and post something about it. I had the smoked meat sandwich. The meat was perfectly fatty and unctuously tender. The spicing was a bit odd -- a bit less aggresively spiced than you might expect, and way more garlicky than normal. I thought it was quite tasty but it's definitely not traditional. I brought some take-out home which was much more lean than the meat I got in my sandwich, and which was a bit tough and not a huge hit with those who tried it. I still liked it but it definitely wasn't as good as the sandwich I had in the store.

          All in all it was quite tasty, and I think in the same ballpark as the best smoked meat in the GTA. Hopefully it will only get better as it was literally their first day open, and it always takes a bit of time to work out all the kinks.

          I took a picture of the sandwich which I can post when I get home tonight.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Michael N

            We got pastrami and smoked meat sandwiches yesterday, and found the smoked meat quite good but a bit different as you mentioned. We had slightly worse luck with the pastrami, which seemed more gristly than it ought to be.

            For the quantity of meat provided at this price point (about $10/sandwich), it's not exactly Schwartz's-level of value. I guess the Kosher tax/premium takes its toll. On the other hand, it's a short walk away instead of a train ride; I'm certain we'll be back frequently as the place matures. The space is certainly a lot more inviting than Pancer's!

            1. re: gimel

              Unfortunately anything Kosher is always going to be more expensive.

              1. re: kwass

                I got some corned beef and pastrami sandwiches from "Big Al's Delish" (Bathurst/Fairlawn) the other day. About twice the meat for about half the price of B&I's - not Kosher. $5.95 with a pickle. Al said he's been preparing his own meat for years in the catering business, and the storefront sandwich operation is more of a fun sideline to the main catering action. Little room to sit down (two chairs I think), so it's not really a restaurant in direct competition with B&I/Pancers etc. Flavours were not so pronounced as the B&I product, but I'm not complaining. Everything was tender.

            2. re: Michael N

              Here's the picture of my sandwich.

              1. re: Michael N

                That looks yummy! But I see what gimel meant when he said it it seemed kind of small for the price.

                1. re: kwass

                  no comment on the meat (which I have yet to try) but that is the smallest sandwich I have ever seen in a Jewish deli!

                    1. re: kwass

                      Thirded. That my friends, looks quite small.

                    2. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                      I have had smaller at Caplansky's, but is C a Jewish deli?

                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                        It is a Jewish Deli, although not a Kosher Deli.

              2. Went today for lunch for their supposed "Grand Opening". I say supposed because there was no indication of this being any sort of event or special occasion, which is totally fine.

                My friend arrived at 11:40 am to an empty restaurant and was asked to take a counter seat, even though he said there would be two of us. He had to ask for a table by the window, which they gave him.

                Not sure why they were pushing the counter, though they said that they were expecting a party of 15 people, which never materialized. They had the tables set for a large group, but they quickly moved the tables back as the place got busy.

                We ordered a smoked meat combo with matzo ball soup, and a corned beef combo with fries.

                The waiter returned shortly and said that "there was a malfunction with the matzoh balls, so there are none available". The only other option was chicken/vegetable soup which was good but a bit salty.

                The sandwiches and fries came out just as the soup was being finished. The corned beef sandwich was a mess, with lots of small bits of meat falling off the bread, though it tasted good. It was also about 2/3 the size of the smoked meat sandwich.

                Unfortunately, the smoked meat was dry and tough, and cut very unevenly, which made it hard to eat without big pieces of meat coming out of the sandwich.

                The fries (McDonalds style), pickles and bottled mustards were fine.

                In addition, the service was to put it mildly, very amateurish. Our waiter was friendly but didn't seem very confident. I also had a view of the servery/kitchen and it was quite amusing watching the goings on. I'm sure this will improve with time.

                Needless to say, the place was packed (though there didn't seem to be a line up at any time). There was also a constant stream of people coming in for take-out.

                I'm sure that they will do very well, but since I don't keep kosher, I don't plan on returning. For $10, I'd much rather have a laffa (let the flaming begin!)

                1. Dropped by around 6:30 for a smoked meat sandwich. Wish I could write a review of it, but they were sold out. No sign indicating that they were sold out when I walked in and walked out, sandwich-less and greatly disappointed.

                  However, the 20 minutes or so I wasted while standing in line and ravenously hungry gave me the opportunity to observe just how the unprepared and poorly trained the staff is. The cashier did not know what the "B" in BLT on their own menu stood for. I also observed quite a few inefficiencies -- empty, uncleared tables, but people still waiting in line for a table; one person doing two jobs with 50% attention where they really should be only doing one job with 100% attention; people waiting 20 minutes for water and for their orders to be taken; etc. Unless you are willing to be patient and understanding, it mayn't be a good idea to go until the many kinks are worked out.

                  I might not be back, considering the location (not very convenient personally) and the expectations they built up with their many months of tweets. Their ambition and passion are admirable, but without execution, they've disappointed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lsk

                    I had almost exactly the same experience as lsk yesteryday evening around 7 pm, my first visit. Was not told when I sat down that they were sold out of sandwiches, I was ignored after sitting down even though the place was not full, the staff seemed clueless. I don't expect to return for some time.

                  2. Looks like they need to work out the bugs. I don't believe these guys have ever worked in a restaurant, much less owned one. So that'll take some time to figure out. Which, hopefully, will fix most of the problems noted above.

                    I do know they were looking to hire an experienced meat carver so it sounds like either they're still looking or should be.


                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Davwud

                      Perhaps they should have had their act together in terms of service (and found someone who knows how to slice meat properly) before they started taking people's money?

                      1. re: Davwud

                        Since they're new, they're probably trying to hire a meat carver on a budget. That should be cheap, right? If you speak with them, let 'em know that position's worth a good portion of their reputation. Pay!

                        I, in the meantime, wait in the wings for them to say when they're really ready to perform. I have faith.

                        1. re: Googs

                          I really think what we're seeing here is two guys who thought, "Let's open a restaurant" kinda thinking, "how hard could it be??"


                        2. re: Davwud

                          4 months after they starting posting on Twitter, 8 days after they've opened, and on the day of their "Grand Opening", they haven't hired a meat carver????????

                          Makes me wonder what else they aren't doing.....

                          Yesterday at lunch, they had someone carving the meat near the take-out counter in full view, until just before noon. Then as they got busy, the meat disappeared, and the board and knives were wiped clean. Not sure where it was coming from afterwards.

                          1. re: CarNut

                            Who said they didn't hire one?? I said maybe they didn't or, if they did, they didn't do a good job of hiring one and need to keep looking.

                            Either way, it seems that's an issue.

                            Like I said, this smells of 2 guys in over their heads at this point. I'm sure things will get better as they get their feet wet.
                            It's unfortunate but what I've sampled from there was top notch.


                            1. re: Davwud

                              "what I've sampled from there was top notch"???

                              Wasn't this from before they opened, when they were probably trying to impress you?? How many times have you been since they starting charging for their food?

                              I also looked at the pictures of the samples from your review, and they bear nothing to what is actually being served (for $10!!) except for it being meat on bread with mustard.

                              1. re: CarNut

                                Not just me, anyone in the area who would poke their head in the door, got samples.

                                I have not been since they opened, in fact, I haven't been in town much. I will get there soon though.

                                The pictures I've seen match what I got and someone I know and respect went and said the meat was "excellent."

                                The thing was, they were doing one piece of meat at a time and and nothing else going on. Very easy to get that right. Now try doing it with several pieces and a three ring circus going on around them. Like I've said, what I'm reading into this is they're overwhelmed and need to get their feet under them.


                                1. re: Davwud

                                  I don't know the first thing about opening a restaurant but do agree that after a good 6 months of Twitter posting that they "will be opening soon" and reading these reviews it does sound like two guys who said "how hard can it be"?

                                  I will still give them a chance, but it will be 3 months from now, minimum.