A little over 6 months ago, my fiance and I visited Caplansky’s Delicatessen for the first time. There was big hype about it, even back then when it was on the second floor of a dingy sports bar on Clinton called The Monarch Tavern. As you walked in the door a sign printed out on copy paper exclaimed: “At Caplansky’s, Cash Is King!” In those days the menu was small but good: Smoked meat sandwiches, knishes, borsht, and poutine with smoked meat gravy. After one meal we became regulars and later I ended up doing some photography work for Zane, the owner and chef.
Last night we were invited by Zane, the owner and chef, to the pre-opening of what people are calling “Caplansky’s 2.0”. I had stayed away from the ever present online reviews and speculation about what the restaurant would be like, so all I knew was what Zane had told me about it when we had dinner together earlier in the summer: It used to be a butcher shop in the 60s, he was going to have a cutting station in the dining room of the restaurant, he wanted to have local craft beers on tap, and his menu was expanding to include some Jewish deli favourites like matzoh ball soup, kishkes, and bagels with lox and cream cheese.
The new restaurant looks really great. It’s fresh and bright, and if you were a regular at The Monarch you’ll notice that he’s kept a few of the old trademarks. Instead of a small framed 8x10 portrait of him sitting beside the cutlery organizer, there’s a large version of the same portrait on the wall near the door. He stuck with the colour and font scheme of his old menu with his new one. I’m also fond of the signs on the window with exclaimations like: “Our Knishes Are Delicious!”
Caplansky’s now serves all day breakfast (you can get 3 eggs, smoked beef bacon, latkes, toast and a cup of coffee for $9!) The lunch menu is similar to the one at The Monarch with a few additions like smoked turkey sandwiches and a smoked meat burger. The dinner menu is full of things your bubbe used to make, like beef brisket and liver and onions. We tried the chopped steak and the beef brisket last night. Both were excellent, but the chopped steak was the star of the show. It was tender and juicy and covered with that signature smoked meat gravy that we’ve come to know and love. I would definitely order it again.
For those of you (like me) who are interested in what’s on tap, you can take your pick of 4 tasty local brews: Dennison’s Weissbier, Mill Street Organic, Magic Hat’s #9 and King Pilsner.
It’s worth going at least once to say that you were there when it first opened. Because this place is going to become a Toronto institution. Trust me on this one.
New Location: 356 College Street, Toronto Ontario.