Snowdon Deli Montreal
sum up: In Montreal, everyone is a Canadiens fan, but the city is divided about who makes the best smoked meat. Me, I'm a Snowdon Deli girl. In terms of fame, Snowdon Deli is the single A team to the major league Schwartz's (which was recently bought by Celine Dion). Yet, when talking quality and the charm of a family-run deli, Snowdon wins the smoked meat championships hands down. Plus, Snowdon Deli brims with Jewish classics, especially the transcendent, chopped chicken liver.
looks: Even with a recent renovation, Snowdon Deli looks timeless with its retro palette of beige and pink. The walls are a 2-dimensional, time capsule, covered in old photos and articles that highlight the deli's 60+ years of history.
ambiance: Tucked in the residential neighborhood of Côte des Neiges, a steady stream of regulars keep Snowdon Deli humming. Equally popular as a take-out joint, swing by for your Jewish deli standards: smoked meat, knish, matzo ball soup, and bagelach, the sweet cheese, U-shaped pastry only sold in Montreal.
Jewish chopped liver ups the chicken ante, since they can't plump their pâté with pork fat like the French. Crisped chicken skin (gribenes), rendered chicken fat (schmaltz), and sautéed liver make three times the fowl. A fourth, hard-boiled eggs, add fatty heft. Snowdon Deli's liver is a rich brown thanks to a mess of caramelized onions, which are also used as an accompaniment. Ever since I tasted this, I've don't leave Mount Real without a tub of this tastiness.
Famed Montreal scribe Mordechai Richler calls smoked meat a maddening aphrodisiac. No matter how you slice it--lean or medium (aka less or more fat)-- the salt-cured brisket is addictive. Sandwiches come crammed with meat spilling out the sides; or, order a plate to make your own. Mustard and pickles are a must, natch.
My family jokes that french fries are in our DNA. A byproduct from Hannukah, the holiday where fried foods (latkes and sufganiyot) symbolize the oil that kept the temple lit, we have oil coursing through our veins. Snowdon Deli's fries are phenomenally fresh and wonderfully squishy, the perfect pairing to the smoked meat.
Montreal's other famed food, the bagel, is less salty and more chewy than it's American counterparts. Do not leave Montreal without tasting them; better yet, take a dozen (they freeze well). To order like a local, opt for white (sesame) or black (poppy). Stacked with onion, tomato, and some of the loveliest lox in town, this is bagel bliss.