Everything you've heard about the famous Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen (Charcuterie Hebraique de Montreal) is true: the food is delicious, the service is friendly yet efficient, and it's fun to sit at a long table with strangers as lunch partners.
Yesterday we waited in a line that moved along quickly as a white-aproned man chose groups of two, three or four people from the line to fill recently-vacated seats. We got in ahead of a single fellow who was waiting for what he called a "late girlfriend" and we sat beside a couple who, from their accents, we deduced were from France.
The three of us went for a "plate" (a large plate of smoked meat plus a stack of slices of rye bread), coleslaw (no mayo) and a large dill pickle. The meat, which is marinated for 8 days and smoked for 12 hours, had a soft, smokey flavour with none of the chemical backtaste that we're used to on the west coast. A slice of rye bread, a generous squirt of mustard and few slices of meat on top. Delicious! Tangy coleslaw was just right for breaking up the all-meat meal and the dill pickle tasted just like deli pickles should.
We took our time over lunch (even though the place was busy, we didn't feel rushed), and when we left there was still a lineup. The waiting boyfriend had moved to the end of the line (still waiting but still smiling) and when I wished him luck he exchanged a high five with me.
I'll always remember you, Schwartz's, and I may never eat others' smoked meat again.