It isn’t just poutine. Montreal is definitely famous for their Smoked Meat sandwiches as well.
And perhaps it is the institutions that serve the extraordinarily plain yet delicious sandwich, that are even more famous than the food item itself. In Montreal at least, that’s the case.
There are of course many restaurants that serve smoked meat sandwiches in the city and surrounding areas, and although the city with quite the culinary history, is losing two of these locations, there are still plenty of places to get one of these mammoth sandwiches.
Wait…what? Which Montreal institutions famous for their smoked meat are closing their doors?
Smoked meat is simple, the meat, the mustard, the rye bread…. But simple doesn’t always mean bad.
My grandfather recently passed away, and if he passed anything down to me, it was a deep love for food and martial arts action movies. As far as food was concerned, what he taught me was sometimes it was the simplest things that really made an epic meal…
A fried egg or two with sautéed green onion fresh from the garden, salt, pepper, served with toast drizzled with a delicate touch of olive oil; the wonder of salt cod, simply fried next to a piece of crispy corn bread and garlic, dried seasoned black olives; a piece of dried sausage between a loaf of bread and yes, the eternal smoked meat sandwich.
In truth, he was the one that introduced me to my favorite smoked meat sandwich place. We were at a wedding when I was a small boy, and the staff had served a hot and cold buffet, and you may have guessed it, smoked meat was on the table so to speak, a table that stretched for seemingly miles, adorned with a plethora of international bites….
But it was the smoked meat my grandfather kept returning to…a guy up there wearing the tallest chef’s hat I’d ever seen, slicing it and placing a thick amount of the meat on the bread my grandfather held out on a tiny plate.
I decided to taste it on that night and all because it looked and smelled so good, and I have never looked back since. It was while I ate it that he recalled many a time when he’d stop off at Jarry Smoked Meat, and no that’s not a typo…it isn’t Jerry’s, it’s Jarry.
The first time I walked in there, it was like walking through a time warp. The booths, the counter, unchanged I’d imagined since it first opened. The beauty about this spot was that it was open 24/7 back when I was younger, and in my later years as a teenage kid, it was useful after a night out on the town…mostly hard rock concerts and pro wrestling events for me.
And after those events, there was always Jarry.
Now for those of you outside the city who have been to Jarry Smoked Meat, you may be wondering if it was Jarry that is closing its doors, and to you I can abate your fears…and although this might be a tad anticlimactic, Jarry seems to be moving along quite nicely, even after…all these years. It first opened in 1974.
But there are two locations in Montreal, formerly referred to as institutions in the above portion of this piece, which are closing for good.
According to a piece at globalnews.ca, Pointe-Saint-Charles, the Montreal neighborhood, is losing Quebec Smoked Meat, and perhaps even bigger of a hit is the fact that The Main Deli on St. Laurent has also closed its doors.
Many in the Montreal area are saddened by the loss, even Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, made a statement about the closing.
According to the aforementioned piece at Global, labor shortages, which are a massive problem in Montreal right now for the food industry, and even extremely high food costs are the reasons behind the closings.
How is smoked meat made…
The Wikipedia page dedicated to Montreal-Style smoked meat is an interesting read. Essentially smoked meat is made by salting/curing beef brisket using spices and then after a week of soaking in all those spices, it is put through a process known as hot smoking and is ultimately steamed until it is fully cooked and ready to serve.
Trust me when I tell you it’s as delicious as it sounds, dear readers.
Other great locations for smoked meat in Montreal include…
But fret not, my dearest readers…when stopping off in Montreal on your next trip, there are plenty of great spots for your smoked meat cravings to be abated.
The aforementioned Jarry is my personal favorite; Schwartz’s Deli is of course a big one; Dunn’s Famous (around since 1927), has a few locations and thank God for that, because they do it well, folks…especially their Reuben sandwich, and there are perhaps many others.
I haven’t had a smoked meat since my grandfather passed this summer, and I know I’ll eventually make my way back to Jarry. I’ll take a booth at the back, by the window, alone…maybe read the paper…order a smoked meat with a diet soda…and while I’ll wait for it, I’ll look out the window and try to imagine what the view must have looked like back in 1974 when perhaps my grandfather was seated in the same exact seat.
Thanks for smoked meat, Nonno. For that I thank you, sir.
How about you, dear readers…what are some of your favorite Montreal smoked meat locations?