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Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

Yeah embee, you're right, Chenoy's may have opened around 1970 and hadn't made its mark yet when you arrived and left. Until mid-eighties, it was the best greasy-spoon diner around, plus 24 hours. By the mid-80's and on, the city decided that there were better places to go for similar food - except between midnight and 5 am - when the place was packed on a nightly basis (it became the best 12-5 am restaurant in the city).

To be honest, you say you've heard bad things about it - if Chenoy's opened in Toronto, it would be the best diner in the city (plus the ony one that's open 24-hours - which violates Toronto's unwritten curfew of 10 pm).

I have a personal connection to Miss Montreal, it's funny that you mention it. I also went to Pumpernicks and Brown Derby on a regular basis from birth !!!

It's too bad you never tried the cheesecake. You can't possibly say "it's not for you" without trying it. That's ridiculous.

Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

Jay, there is no mousse in the cake. The picture is deceiving. The cake as a whole is about 20 times the size of the Baker's oven cake. If you put four of the PC cakes on top of each other than glaze the top, you have Montreal deli cheesecake.

By the way, there are endless bakeries in the city that make all kinds of fou-fou cheesecakes, just like in Toronto, some with kumquats, some with peaches, all variations in the book, even diet ones. But the deli's all have this Monster cake, and it's been around for a good 40 years, despite embee's memory (which could go from time to time at his age).

Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

Embee, it looks good but I have to taste it. I'm a little surprised that in your 3 years in Montreal, you never tried a slice of cheesecake from Chenoy's at 3 A.M. (it's a tradition) !!! Plus you were around the right age to be swinging at those hours!!

Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

I tried to describe it. The cheesecake itself is NY style, plain white cheesecake, very, very thick. The cashe is that it's about 10 inches high, so they serve the slice sideways. The outside of the cake has delicate slightly candied nuts (think of it like a thin layer of pralines) - as opposed to cheesecakes in Toronto that sometimes coat the outside with graham. (I prefer plain over graham). Traditionally, it has a stawberry topping (not pie filling), but fresh strawberries and a sweet strawberry gelatin to glue the strawberries to the top of the cake. I posted a pic from Dunns-Montreal above.

A Toronto version in a cake-house would be half the height, it would have graham on the outside and blueberry or cherry pie filling on top. Plus I can't forget, the cheesecake base here is about half as thick as a Montreal Deli Cheesecake (but similar taste).

Jay, I have one consolation for you - after "Mike's Subs" and "Montreal style Szechuan", the list is pretty much done !!! :)

Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

Embee, I'll confirm or reject your suspicion after I try the PC cheesecake. I tried Star, Sara Lee and Baker's oven, and out of the three, only Baker's oven is edible. And you're exactly right. For $5, it would cost me more for the ingredients than to buy their cake which is "very good" cheesecake. If memory serves, I believe I saw the PC cake a couple of times but opted out because of the gourmet price for a grocery store cheesecake!!! You vouch for it so I'm getting it this week. As for the one that I pictured for you, it's the version of cheesecake that I grew up with so of course, I'm partial to the sweet nuts surrounding the cake and strawberry as opposed to cherry or blueberry on top. I prefer plain cheesecake over "pie filling" topping that I noticed is quite common outside of Montreal. I'm focussing on the PC one for now because in the near future, I won't have time to shop to gourmet bakeries - although I'm referencing this post with your info. By the way Embee, why haven't you written a book yet on "how to eat in Toronto"? You're awesome.

Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

Thanks Embee. I'll check out these places. I've never tried the PC brand - how does it compare with the plain Baker's Oven brand? (I first bought it on a whim because it was on sale and it blew me away :) I couldn't believe that a $5 frozen cheesecake could satisfy me !!! and I'm very fussy with authenticity, quality and taste etc...

Montreal Cheesecake in Toronto

Hi Again: I'm getting a craving for my old faithful slice of Montreal Cheesecake. I'll describe it for those in the dark. The base of the cake is similar to New York cheesecake (creamy, a little sweet and Freaking THICK), however, it's about 10 inches high, it has slightly candied nuts surrounding the entire side of the cake and has fresh strawberries with sweet strawberry gellee on top. As far as I know, this type of cheesecake is unique to Montreal deli's (Dunn's five locations, former Ben's, mom+pop deli's, and Chenoy's restaurants across the city and outskirts). I have a pic from the Dunn's (Montreal) website for reference:

Does anyone know if the Dunn's downtown Toronto has the Montreal cheesecake? And a better question is - does anyone know if this place is still in business? (Their smoked meat wasn't served properly and the service was lousy a few years ago when I went there before heading out to the theatre - wasn't interested in dessert).

I'm hoping to find a similar cheesecake in central Toronto. I tried many "New York cheesecakes" and suffice it to say that most were awful and no-where close to either Montreal or NY cheesecake.

The closest plain cheesecake base that I have found is "Baker's Oven" brand, found in most supermarkets - It is actually closer Montreal or NY cheesecake base than any fresh baked cheesecake that I've found here. I actually like it very much. I'm just looking for a place to hang out and order a $7 mammoth slice with the topping etc... like the good old days in Mtl.

Finally, to all restauranteurs and bakeries, if you're going to serve diet cheesecake, please put it in BOLD writing and tell the customer "it's Toronto's best DIET CHEESECAKE". I must have had three vendors in the city who, while telling me how phenomenal their cheesecakes are, omitted to tell me that they used a low-calory, diet recipe (which completely defeats the purpose to eat it). While I swallow the disgusting bite of white slop, they tell me "and it's only 100 calories per slice".

"Diet Cheesecake" is an oxymoron!!!

Thanks for helping chowhounders.

Disappointed with Caplansky's

Went back to Caplansky's, I was in the area. I'm just going to address new topics that were raised on this "Caplansky" string of posts.

1) I agree that mustard is a condiment and is a matter of choice. In Montreal, the default on deli sandwiches is a "brushing" of yellow mustard on the top bread, almost to the point that you can't even taste it. Every deli puts out mustard on the table so you can add to your level of satisfaction. For take-out, if you don't say "extra mustard", you won't taste the default. I respect Zane making a home-made mustard, but the staff should default their service by asking "yellow or house mustard" - Every time someone orders a sandwich (like a wing place asking "medium or suicide?"). My American relatives always insisted on Gulden's Mustard on their deli in Montreal, and they were the exception to the yellow mustard standard. I dined in for the first time and ordered my sandwich bare, and was handed a tray of 3 choices of mustards - it was all good.

2) My cole-slaw looked appetizing and I was excited to dive in to home-made slaw. I was dissapointed. It tasted like simple raw shredded cabbage. I was expecting a home-made vinaigrette dressing. Honestly, without dressing, it's completely pointless to serve the slaw. Everyone knows my deli-going experience, and I always noticed at ALL deli's, most people leave over 90% of their plate or cuppette of slaw - it's more decoration than a side. I always thought "imagine serving cole-slaw with home-made dressing and having people craving the slaw instead of having it be decoration". I guess I still have to wait.

3) I heard many people mention that the fries are too salty. I disagree. This was my third fry order and third time that I added a little bit of salt to my fries. (Delicious).

4) I knew that poutine was added to the menu. I love plain crispy greasy fries with my deli and Zane delivered for the 3rd consecutive time. Yes, I am from Quebec - and yes, I've had my share of poutine and I miss having it, however, for my personal deli experience, it doesn't go with deli. If I lived in the area, I would pop in once in a while to get a poutine believe me. Whenever I have had poutine in the past, it was the main focus of the meal (being that it is soooooo rich, and I usually ordered a 'family-sized' for myself) - so when I go out for deli, I want the focus to be on the sandwich, not on the side dish. Just my personal preference.

5) On the authenticity of poutine if it has bits of smoked meat: Definitely still authentic!! The general rule is that if you add anything to poutine that will raise your cholesterol level the authenticity remains intact.

6) The sandwich tasted "ok". It was less salty than the last time. I'm just not adjusted or addicted to the flavour of the meat yet. Clearly, I want to be !!!!!!

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

Magic: I think I'll try Yitz. The menu looks great (DD, on the website, click on "catering", right away you'll see corned beef on their menu). The guy who told me not to go there probably had Montreal Smoked Meat on the brain and they probably have nothing to substitute for it - that's probably what he meant. Since coming to Toronto, I started getting addicted to Corned Beef (the next best thing in Toronto), so based on your recommendation, I will try it. Montrealers usually view corned beef as a bland, drier, less fatty version of smoked meat. Since coming here, I've grown to appreciate corned beeef - plus it's a lot healthier. So far my favorite that I've had was at Pancer's. I assume I'll have to also try Corned Beef House - if it's not their specialty, they should really change their name!! Let's see Embee's take on these two institutions.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

DD: I'm still building up the moxy to head over to POE. I have to pack a lunch and check my tires first, then I'm heading out West. :) I've been wanting to try it since you mentioned it. I just haven't had time.

About Yitz: This is another Toronto deli institution. I've never been there and I'll tell you why. I was recommended to go to four different places for deli in Toronto and only one of them was borderline "ok". I was told "Do Not Go to Yitz". So I figured if I didn't like the places that were recommended to me, it was logical for me not to go to one that I was told that I wouldn't enjoy. Once again, I was never there, so it would be unfair of me to say any more. Embee will be able to fill in the rest from his experiences there.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

DD, what should I get as my side instead of the frozen fries? I assume they don't have knishes :). p.s.: You don't have to defend Peter's - I read rave reviews on three different web-sites.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

Dee: I don't know. I've had fries all across the city for 13 years, never had one as good as Caplansky's. Please share your knowledge. Who has better fries? (Fresh-cut I assume).

Montreal style bagels, anyone?

I've said it before, I'll say it again. "The definition of Toronto food and dining: absolutely no consistency".

I went back to Bagel House Friday night at midnight (Avenue location). I literally passed the place on my drive home from visiting friends. Completely different experience than the first time I went.

Last time, it was dark inside (half of the lighting was turned off), the employees were depressed and the baked goods looked like they were there for several weeks. The bagels were also far from fresh.

Last night, the place was lit up (and it actually looked pleasant inside). The employee who served me was happy and somewhat passionate about her goods. The shelves were loaded with baked goods that appeared very fresh. I felt like I was in a different bakery.

I bought 6 sesame bagels. Delicious and fresh (despite not being straight out of the oven). Authentic Montreal bagel recipe, for sure. Very close to the Fairmount bagels that I have been eating all week. I toasted one this morning and applied cream cheese - I defy a Montrealer on a blind taste test to tell me that it's not a Montreal Bagel. Phenomenal Bagel, and definitely a Montreal bagel.

Obviously, this place is inconsistent, however, at least I know they have the potential of making real Montreal bagels. It's very exciting for me.

The baked goods:

Latke: It crubled apart on my first bite and half of it fell on the floor. It needs a binding agent. It also needs more potato and a little more onion in the recipe. This latke shouldn't be sold.

Potato Knish: Delicious greasy pastry shell on the outside. The inside needs work. There's a "funny" taste in the recipe. I don't know what it is, but it's a cross between fish and cat-food (and I never had a cat).

Cherry Cheese Danish: Excellent Phyllo pastry, good ingredients - just not sweet enough. It needs more sugar in the recipe.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

My second visit to Caplansky's - I took out a fresser sandwich on Thursday. It was different from the first ones that I got last month. This sandwich was EXTREMELY dry. I ordered fat, and I got fat in the sandwich, however, even the fat was dry. No grease in the sandwich whatsoever. The sweet hickory was also in full force to a fault. The sandwich was also too salty. When the fat is as dry as the meat, it's a real f***ing problem.

Last week, I polished off two pounds of Schwartz. I'm not basing the following comparisons on a "memory from childhood" or a "past tourist visit to Montreal".

I'll put it simply and tactfully. Caplansky's sandwiches are not Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches. It's an insult to Schwartz' and the Montreal deli-loving community to even mention Caplansky's sandwich in the same sentence.

The cache of a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich is the melt-in-your-mouth, tender fat combined with the loaded peppercorn spiced, smoked and steamed, greasy, marbled brisket that creates a taste sensation that can't be matched by any other deli experience. Caplansky's is on the other end of the spectrum. No grease, cured and smoked to a fault, almost no peppercorn spice and no greasy fat.

The Caplansky sandwich should be under a heading such as "Unique Deli Experiences". This place is not for Montrealers (at least as far as getting their fix).

Unless I'm downtown, it's a one hour treck for me to get to Caplansky's. It's about 35 minutes to the Gardiner, then 25 minutes negotiating through traffic and construction to Little Italy, then finding parking and walking down the street to get this sandwich. In terms of "getting my fix", it's not worth the effort.

This is important to mention: If you have friends, associates or relatives in town, please Do Not boast about Caplansky's and represent it as Montreal Smoked Meat. If your guest is here from Montreal, you will be SEVERELY embarrassed by your recommendation. If your guest never visited Montreal and wants to try an authentic Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich, you're GRAVELY mis-representing this place as such.

I love the concept of Caplansky's, although I've never dined-in, it feels like a warm atmosphere for me. I love Zane and I love his passion - and I would probably be back if I was in the area. It's just not Montreal Smoked Meat.

If Zane is trying to replicate Montreal Smoked Meat, the recipe need a serious overhaul. If he's "makin' his own thang", G-d bless, and I wish him all the success in the world.

Montrealers are as passionate about their fresh-cut fries as they are about their Smoked Meat. Caplansky's serves by far the best fresh-cut fry in the GTA. I had them on the side of my fresser and they were the highlight of my meal. They were crispy, greasy and very tasty. I also got mostly full-length sticks unlike the stumps that I got last month. If I lived near by, the fries alone would get me into his place on a regular basis. I'm proud to call them worthy of a Montreal fry. They are a cross between the Harvey's fries from the 80's and "Decarie Hot-dog". Very high praise considering where I'm from.

Bottom line in Toronto: If you enjoy Southern dry-cured, hickory-smoked lean brisket, this place is for you. If you want a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich, grab a Lester's sandwich at the locations mentioned above in this post - and hopefully you could get the cutter to slice lots of edible fat into your sandwich.

Before putting Caplansky's and Schwartz' in the same reference in a post, please try Schwartz' again.

My next smoked-meat fix will be relieved by Peters on Eglinton. I will post my review upon my return.


Forget about ruler-length karnatzel - how about a link that wraps over your shoulders like a towel? That's another food that I could eat in unlimited quantity.

If Caplansky had home-made onion-potato knishes and karnatzel, I would move to little Italy.


I just tasted a dozen St. Urbain knishes. They look the part and the pastry is perfect. It's the style that we're looking for however, the potato filling is bland.

I toasted their sesame bagel a couple days ago thinking it would be closer to a Montreal bagel than eating it fresh. The bagel had almost no taste. I won't be getting bagels or knishes there again. They make good home-made cream cheese and that's about it.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

Although it's not up my alley, power to the tongue lovers. I'm all for anything old-fashioned, so lead the way Pinstripe!! Maybe you should start a new tongue post for "closet" tongue lovers.


Wow !! I'll be there this week some time. I hope he has knishes left.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

It may be available in Montreal, however, I haven't seen anyone eat it or serve it at occasions for about 25 years. No-one under the age of 60 in Montreal has any desire to go near tongue.


That's it !! I took pics of some Montreal Knishes that I had delivered but it will take me a few weeks to figure out how the heck to load them up. They look similar to the pic you put on.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

No insider meaning - just typical men from the 40's and 50's who lived for smoked meat, chopped liver, Sinatra records and Broadway.

Montreal style bagels, anyone?

Thanks Doc - I'll check it out and let you know how it goes.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

Last night I unwrapped my two pounds of Schwartz from the fridge. I used Mr. Bozo's tip and steamed 3/4 of a pound in my chinese bamboo steamer. I steamed the meat for exactly 10 minutes (once I had nice steam coming out of the pot). I made two sandwiches. By far, the best "take-out-by-the-pound" smoked meat sandwich I ever had. Absolutely no flavour loss, the meat itself was greasy and the most tender I've ever had. Even the fat was 100% tender and completely "melt-in-your-mouth style". I wouldn't revive my smoked meat any other way now that I have the perfect method.

I've had Schwartz "by the pound" takeout countless dozens of times and never did it taste the way it did from the chinese steamer. The meat and fat were so tender, that it made no difference that I'm completely inept at piling the meat in the sandwich (plus I wouldn't waste my time craftily piling when there's fresh smoked meat to be eaten). It made no difference at all. My sandwich tasted like it was handed to me by one of the cutters at Schwartz. Heaven!!

Thanks Mr. Bozo !!

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

To my recollection, even the crooners at my table who ordered speck on the side knew that "there was something about it that wasn't kosher" (that it wasn't good for you) - and I've never seen any of them get a bundle for take-out. When they ordered it, all their wives would say "what do you need that for?" (very much like the banter you see with George's parents on Seinfeld). None of their wives would ever allow a bag of speck for takeout !!! - In that vein, embee, you're going to have to cover the take-out commentary on speck. I'm wondering if they charged their "greasy spiced lard" by the pound or by the container. :)

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

Doc, back in the day, my elders at my table at Schwartz wouldn't eat their meal unless they got a side of speck. Like your nephew, I was told to not go near it, it's not for kids. I tried a little taste once. It was greasy, peppercorned fat. I heard that they stopped serving it (inappropriate in today's world). It was my impression that it was part of the brisket fat that was trimmed before the cutters made sandwiches, and someone waaaaaaay back probably said "Are you throwing that out? What are you nuts? Put it on my plate !!!!!" - so they started collecting the spiced fat for customers who requested it on the side of their plate. It was 'en vogue' for crooners to order speck. It wasn't on the menu, and they didn't charge for it.


T-Vore: I'm 99% sure that's minced corned beef in the knish. It looks fantastic.


MrBozo, just to prevent confusion, the twinkie knish isn't a pastry shell. It's more like a "tough corn-meal balloon" that surrounds the delicious thick potato filling. It tastes similar to "baked potato skin". To better understand, Torontovore posted a picture of the Toronto Kosher knish in his post below which has a similar casing. Both knishes tasted pretty good, however, because there is no greasy pastry on the outside, it's not my type of knish.

Montreal Smoked Meat in Toronto

I used to make sandwiches with it in the 70's when our mixed deli platters ran out of smoked meat. My memory is that it was good, but couldn't hold a candle to smoked meat. As I said in another post, pickled tongue died out in Montreal in the early to mid 80's. It's almost impossible to find it there today.

Montreal style bagels, anyone?

Exactly. The St. Urbain and Bagel House Bagels came out of the oven white - yet the one at Fairmount has home-made-looking char on the outside.

My Fairmount bagels are now 17 hours out of the oven and now taste similar to the 2-4 hour Bagel House Bagel that I had last week.

Definitely in Toronto, the closest is Bagel House.

As for Fairmount mixing and matching, in 50+ years of business, I think you're the first to ever ask that question. I always just bought a dozen of each if I wanted to mix. They're so good, there's no such thing as over-buying (I used to give away some to neighbors or relatives if need be). Plus as they are a wholesaler, their prices are so low anyway.

Montreal style bagels, anyone?

Meclone, I just finished a 12-hour, Toasted Fairmount Sesame Bagel. Forget about it. The Fairmount bagel has 4 to 5 times the amount of seeds on it, it's sweeter, the inside is markedly chewier and the outside was cooked to the point of "just before burnt". The St. Urbain appeared to be taken out of the oven "medium done". St. Urbain is no-where near a Montreal bagel !!!! It's a "bad imposter".

As for Bagel House, I think I agree it's closer to a Montreal Bagel than Fairmount. I would have liked it to have more seeds and have the inside being a hint sweeter. It's probably better toasted as well.

When you first asked us to import bagels I thought you maybe had a screw loose. Now, I don't think so anymore. I'm not in because I have friends who bring me a dozen Fairmount with 2 Lbs. of Schwartz every couple of months and I'm not a bagel-per-day type of guy anyway. I'm sure someone will go in with you.