As the snow fell delicately, quenching the parched grooves of the asphalt, we trudged like soldiers along the slushy sidewalks of downtown Montreal. Suddenly the building blizzard adopted a sideways trajectory, awaking the already fallen snow from its brief slumber, and stirring the ground into a murky frenzy. While the storm grew and our faces yielded to the elements, we sought cover and a hot meal. As if our prayers had been answered, the clouds parted and the sun radiated the brilliant orange and black awning of Schwartz’s Delicatessen (http://schwartzsdeli.com).
The choice was simple: brave the raging storm and stay hungry or indulge in world-famous smoked meat sandwiches in the snowless indoors. After little thought, we decided on the latter. In heated pursuit of one of those colossal carnivorous creations, we bounded into Schwartz’s and scanned the vicinity for an open table. Usually, Schwartz’s flaunts a tremendous snaking line that stretches around the block, but it seemed we had arrived at the perfect moment, bypassing the crowd entirely. As we surveyed the restaurant, we were greeted by a bubbly waiter who guided us to our table and broke down the menu for us. After glancing momentarily at the succinct menu, containing only the classic deli options, we settled on our lunch feast. Our meal consisted of: a Smoked Meat Sandwich, a Small Plate of Smoked Meat, Homemade French Fries, a Monstrous Pickle, and two Cott’s Black Cherry Sodas.
The famed Smoked Meat Sandwich, built upon two firm slices of mild rye bread, was swelling with supple, unctuous smoked meat and was finished with a light, complimentary schmear of yellow mustard. We decided to order our sandwich “medium,” which means that we received our smoked meat with a medium fat content. Though fatty meat is not overly welcoming to the consumer, I would recommend getting the sandwich with medium fat, as it is the source of the meat’s flavor. The sandwich is quite simple in its presentation, yet complex in taste. The rich, oily smoked meat is leveled by the slight bite of the mustard, while the dense rye bread provides palatable relief from the intense flavors of the meat.
The Small Plate of Smoked Meat was truly a treat. The dish was piled high with rigid, succulent shards of meat and was accompanied by a spongy half-loaf of sliced rye bread. The purpose of ordering a plate of the smoked meat is that you are able to concoct a sandwich to your liking. If you prefer less meat and more mustard on your sandwich or if you choose to eat the smoked meat straight up, you are free to craft your meal in that fashion. The beauty of the meat plate is that you can consume your meat in whatever way you please.
The fries were the perfect side to our feast. Not only did the crisp fries provide us with a much need texture change, but the starch of the potatoes also allowed us to clean our palates between bites of sandwich. The steaming fries prevented our mouths from being muddled by the robust flavors of the meal.
In addition to the fries, the monstrous sour deli pickle was the ideal side to accompany our meat-mania. The pickle supplied an acid relief to an otherwise full-flavored meal, and cut through the sumptuous smoked meat with ease. The pickle was thick and snappy and served a vital role in rounding out the meal.
To extinguish our massive thirsts brought on by the salty smoked meat, we ordered Cott’s Black Cherry Sodas (per the recommendation of our waiter). We initially asked for cream sodas (a classic choice at American delicatessans), but our waiter immediately called our bluff and implored us to try black cherry soda with our meat instead. It turned out to be a good move, as the chilling soda successfully washed down all the goodness of our meal with ease.
Overall, our trip to Schwartz’s was well worth the weather. I would recommend this joint to any carnivore looking to sate their meat craving or any vegetarian looking to break their diet temporarily. I would give it ZZZZX – 4 and ¾’s Z’s – Delicious.