MFS Part 4: Schwartz's Delicatessen

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Schwartz's Delicatessen
3895 St-Laurent
Montreal, Quebec
(514) 842-4813
   Sit-down Menu | Take-out Menu

The Schwartz's dine in menu with very little changing
the last 80 years!
ATTIRE: Casual
$6 Sandwich/ $1-$3 Sides
PAYMENT OPTIONS: Cash in the main restaurant/Debit/Credit in the takeout building 

HOURS: Sunday-Thursday: 8:00AM-12:30AM
              Friday: 8:00AM-1:30AM
              Saturday: 8:00AM - 2:30AM 

RESERVATIONS? No, first come first serve
GLUTEN FREE? possible but thats alot of meat with no bread :P


Quality of Food: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Originality: 5/5 (They are the original aren't they??)
Atmosphere: 4/5

Hey guys, its been a while since I've posted an update and this MFS series is itching to be finished! In part 4 of my Montreal series, I'm taking you back, waaay back (like bagel history back) to one of Montreal's most iconic foods: Montreal-Style smoked meat!

If you were to ask any knowledgeable foodie or Montreal (perhaps even Quebecois) resident about where to get the best smoked meat in town, you will most likely get Schwartz's Delicatessen in response. For a crash course on smoked meat, this is a method of cooking red meat or fish that has been practiced for ages for the main purpose of preserving these protein rich foods which would otherwise spoil very quickly. This is enabled by 2 factors: dehydration and absorbed smoke. Today, smoking meat is practically considered an art and delicacy very prominent in the southern states of the US. 

original recipe since for over 80 years!
Shwartz's Montreal smoked meat more specifically debuted to the world in 1928 by Mr. Reuben (hrm... another sandwich reference??) Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania. Similarly to my bagel story, there is some controversy about who brought this smoked meat cooking style to Montreal first, but Schwartz is the most famous remaining operational smoked meat restaurant in the City of Saints. In fact, its so popular, it has a musical and even a film portraying the deli's story. 

The sign may have changed, but this is the original
building since it was founded in 1928
After a long day of sightseeing, we sauntered over to the St.Laurent hotspot (which is also the original location of Schwartz's when it opened all the way back in 1928) and and were welcomed with the warm orange glow of the charcuterie sign and a lengthy waiting line :/ . There were no hostesses or waiting lists, only men donned in white shirts and aprons occasionally opening the door and asking eager deli goers how many was in their party. Yes, it is first come first serve, but it appeared that Schwartz's uses the "tetris" system, squeezing in customers as efficiently as they can, meaning that if there's a party of 2 behind your party of 4 and a spot opens up for 2, you're still waiting outside as they head in for some tasty meat :P. 

Fortunately, this system seems to work quite well and we quickly moved forward through the lengthy line (which continued to grow behind us) and we make our way into a very crowded diner. Wedging my way inbetween people in line picking up takeout orders, I look around the vintage decor of the dining room outfitted with white tile walls covered in an array of newspaper clippings and framed autograph pictures of several famous people. I didn't really get a good look but individuals such as Celine Dion, Jerry Lewis, Halle Berry and The Rolling Stones (and many more) have sat in the very restaurant I was sitting in. Sure its not the fanciest place in the world, but the old-fashioned diner setup gives it a real nostalgic feel when you enter Schwartz's and honestly, I couldn't see a better way of enjoying the mountain's of Montreal Smoked Meat we were about to order.

We were greeted by a frank but friendly server who was lightning fast with getting our table set and taking our drink order. Since the place only has limited seating, our party of 4 shared a table with another couple which made things a little awkward but I was used to it as many places in Toronto adhere to the same seating system. Before I could even read through the menu, our orders were taken. I opted for the Smoked meat sandwich with fries and a homemade kosher pickle. Kasia and Kristel opted for the lean, less fatty cut of the Montreal style brisket as I wanted the full experience of the regular, fatty goodness! 

A few minutes passed and we were given our kosher pickles and man these things definitely packed a pucker punch! I could immediately predict that the sourness of these kosher pickled cukes would go magnificently with my sandwich and I was oh so right. This mountain of warm beef goodness was dropped in front of me and all I could say was wow. Moments like this perfectly display how less is more. Fresh rye bread, yellow mustard and warm, flavourful, masterfully seasoned Montreal style meat and BAM, heaven on a plate. 

Like in my previous posts, I've added a cross section just to give you a close up on how serious this sandwich is:

at least a 2:1 meat to bread ratio

I really can't describe how amazing this sandwich tasted. I wasn't really hungry after a long hot day of walking around, but as soon as I took the first bite out of this monster sammie, I couldn't put it down. Bite after bite, I'm glad I ordered the regular as opposed to the lean, which was a little dry for my liking but still tasty nonetheless. I could immediately taste the Montreal steak spice (another specialty that has become popular in North America) and you can almost taste the tradition that the staff at Schwartz put into their product. They pride themselves on using no preservatives like many other deli meats and I could definitely tell the difference. 

Needless to say, this meal was quite satisfying, so much so, we stopped by on our way out after getting bagels to pick up several pounds of Montreal Style goodness to take back to Ontario. Even saw a gentleman in front of us picking up 3 huge jars of homemade pickles I was raving about. So... That being said, I feel like I don't need to persuade you to come here, if you are carnivore (or an omnivore I guess.. ) DO NOT pass up coming to Schwartz's if you are ever in town and if you aren't and want to try it anyways, you can order ONLINE! Bon Appétit ! 

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen on Urbanspoon


{ steve } at: Sunday, June 14, 2015 5:49:00 AM said...

this is very commonly heard that smoked food is common in montereal.

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