hen Caplansky’s Deli opened in the dingy Monarch Tavern last June, no one expected all the hype and accolades that it would soon receive – especially owner Zane Caplansky himself. Jestingly Caplansky explains “I started making smoked meat in my apartment because one of my jerk friends reneged on his offer to bring me back a sandwich from Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal… I thought why the hell can’t I get this meat here… and so the experiment went.”
“When I opened my little business. I never expected any of this,” he says. “I always thought it would just be me, and I would never need anyone to help. In five weeks I had five major news outlets print positive reviews and I was on the cover of Toronto Life.”
From Toronto Life and food blogs to martiniboys.com; from the Monarch Tavern to the paint’s-not-even-dry Caplansky’s on College, which opens Saturday, the smoked meat business is indeed booming. Well, the quality smoked meat business I should say (now that Mel’s thankfully closed down). That being said, it is not exactly a surprise that Mr. Caplansky’s specialized meat business is on the rise. Since the recession hit, the culinary world has been met with an in flux of burger joints passing themselves off as high cuisine by offering fancy meat selections and accoutrements.
But Zane C is not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. Caplansky’s is an old school deli through and through. Featuring a card that could make anyone’s bubbie proud (that is if she can handle a little traif), this legitimate, un-ironic bit of old-school is exactly what Toronto needs. Serving up all day breakfast, the menu includes versht and eggs, which is pan-fried Chicago 58 all-beef salami with scrambled eggs, potato latkes and toast; a bagel lox and cream cheese platter; and who could forget, smoked meat hash. Other than the 7oz. smoked meat sandwich, which of course is the pièce de résistance, the smoked meat burger, made with 20% smoked meat and 80% fresh ground chuck, is an absolute must.
And don’t expect to feel out of context while munching on your BBQ braised brisket, kishkas (and yes that means stuffed intestines) or liver and onions. With the help of designer Harvey Cowan (Centro, Splendido), Caplansky’s is an unpretentious looking diner that seems as if it has always been there. The original art-deco terrazzo flooring that was excavated under layers of linoleum and wood, as well as the fact that the spot was both a barbecue chicken spot and a delicatessen in its previous incarnations are certainly not hindrances to the ‘just right’ feel of Caplansky’s.
So, Caplansky’s might have started, as Zane says, all for the sake for his own “pleasure and consumption,” but I have an idea that from now on, pleasuring himself will be the last thing on his mind.
Address: 356 College St., Toronto, ON
Cuisine: Deli Fare
Area: College Street
Hours: Sun. – Wed. 10:00am – 11:00pm
Thu. – Sat. 10:00am – 2:00am
Price Range: $$ (Affordable)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express
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