Thursday, April 18, 2013

Schwartz's Deli of Montreal



After crossing into Quebec, I was pretty happy I'd been brushing up on my French. I studied Parisian French which is admittedly different from Quebecois, but it was enough to read menus, signs, and, most importantly, road construction warnings! After a few days being surrounded by French in Montreal, it was almost surreal to run into not only English, but New York accented English. At least, I used to associate it with New York. Now I'm associating it with really tasty meat sandwiches and guys in paper hats.

Greg had heard about a place called Chez Schwartz, previously known as Schwartz's Deli, and I think now known simply as Scwartz's. That's what the front window and the post card I bought said anyway. Whatever you choose to call it, this place, it turns out, is incredibly well known not just by tourists, but locals also frequent the deli, some enough to be called by name. When Greg asked if he spoke English, the waiter laughed. I think he preferred it, and I didn't notice any French being spoken in the deli. (Chinese, yes, though by patrons only.)

If you go to Montreal, you should eat at Schwartz's. You should also know that it's going to be very crowded, possibly with a line out the door. (The optimal number for a party to sit quickly and comfortably seemed to be two.) Trust me on this, though: it's worth it. There are alternatives to meat sandwiches (which means beef, by the way) – chicken, for example – but if you are capable of eating meat (beef), ORDER IT. It is so freaking delicious. We had our beef sandwiches with fries and Cokes. I also dipped bits into HP Sauce, which Greg knew from England. It tastes like America's A1 Sauce, but better.

Because it is so crowded and the deli is on the small and narrow side, they might seat your party at the same table as another party, which I know freaks some people out. I didn't have a problem with it. I was lost in sandwich paradise. Truly.

The space is so narrow, in fact, that a man in a motorized scooter who had previously been seated was having trouble getting back out after his meal. A local who knew the guys at the deli was standing by the door chatting when one of the men behind the counter called out to her, “Lucy! Make like Moses!” She helped the customers who couldn't see the man in the scooter part – like the Red Sea – and help him exit.

Everyone there seemed to be in good spirits; the crowd was just part of the experience. I can't remember for sure, but I think Schwartz's is cash only. It certainly gets you in and out faster. And don't forget to tip! The first group at the table with us were Chinese and didn't leave the waiter a tip, so when Greg and I rose to leave, he reminded us that we had to leave a tip. Since we had already left one, this prompted us to leave a bigger one. The staff definitely deserves it for all their hard and busy work.

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