So “A” had been planning her trip to Montreal for a couple of weeks now and I was completely psyched and excited to see her. Being away for three years, there’s been a bunch of places that have popped up such as Icehouse, Osteria Venti, and Biarritz, some awesome new joints that I’m pretty sure that Asia is lacking. So you can guess my surprise when she told me where she wanted to go the most when coming back to town. I picked her up form the airport and even before going back to my place to unload luggage or even give me my awesome snacks, we headed to one of Montreal’s landmarks, a beacon of Montreal history and culinary subculture, the mothership that calls in all returning expatriates… Schwartz’s
We placed our order and we started with a couple of these bad boys; half sour pickles. Extremely fresh and crisp pickles taken our of the brine earlier than the full sour pickles (duh), I’ve always liked theses pickles because of the fact that their attack is less and it’s basically like eating a cucumber with just the right amount of pucker and sourness.
All smoked meat plates are served with a stack of fresh rye bread. Keep in mind we were here at 11:00pm at night and the bread was still relatively fresh, albeit it’s not like the bread is ever served warm or anything, but it was far from stale and was soft and crusty.
Being well seasoned smoked meat eaters, we split a “large plate”. When ordering, there’s a few options in smoked meat, lean, medium-fat and fat; but everyone knows there’s only one real option; Medium-fat. There is something about the ying and yang of perfectly balanced lean and fat of the brisket that have defied the laws of physics and nutritional common sense to forge an impossible friendship like a Timone and Pumba of the smoked meat world.
The brisket is usually (and if you’re a purist always) highlighted by a squirt of straight up yellow mustard. The subdued sting and jowl seizing bite of mustard contrasts the saltiness of the meat. The juiciness of the beef is pretty much consistent throughout each piece, and this is due to the brining, then the steaming of the meat. Some may argue that the retention of moisture is the attributed to phosphates used in the brining, however, Schwartz’s boasts an all natural-non-chemical brining process. To be honest, they could marinade in a stew made of old gym socks, and I’ll probably still glob some mustard on it and slap it on rye.
We also ordered a side of fries… why? Because “A” wanted something greasy after a 15 hour flight. I’m not going to hype it up or write something poetic and floral about it… they were potatoes and fried, nothing super fantastic delicious happy fun times… they were fries.
It kind of goes without saying that Schwartz’s roots run very deep in Montreal, being opened over 80 years, Schwartz’s has had celebrities of all kinds pass through their doors as well as had a musical written about them. The old timers behind the counter are just that, “old timers”, take-no-shit-you-better-know-what-you-want-to-eat-dont-ask-me-for-suggestions. Make sure you don’t ask for mayo, rumour is that you’ll be banned for two years and no smoked meat for you.
Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen
3895 Boulevard St-Laurent