Country #020 – Israel (Sid’s Deli)

: 160 McCaul Street, Toronto

I know, I know — I’m cheating.  The type of deli that Sid’s is serving up is an American Jewish phenomenon, without much (if any) connection to Israel.  Sid’s should really fall under the United States on this blog, but since I’ve already covered that country, here we are.

Hey, if you don’t like it, start your own international-cuisine-themed blog.

The fact is, I couldn’t resist writing about this place.  There aren’t many things I enjoy more than a really good smoked meat or pastrami sandwich.  When a new deli opens in the city?  I’m all over that.

Sid’s menu features the usual assortment of deli classics; I went with a pastrami sandwich, and had it with a bowl of matzoh ball soup on the side.

I really wanted to like this — there’s a dearth of really great deli sandwiches in the GTA, and none that I know of in the downtown core (and no, Caplansky’s hasn’t qualified as anything better than okay in quite a stretch).   So I was crossing my fingers for greatness; alas, it wasn’t even good. It was catastrophically overseasoned.  Like, it was kind of insane how overseasoned it was.

The flavour was nothing but black pepper.  You could basically tell that there was a tasty piece of pastrami under there, but it was completely obscured under a deluge of overbearing spice.  You couldn’t take a bite without crunching down on whole peppercorns.  It was unpleasant.

It’s a damn shame, because the pastrami otherwise seems to be right where you want it to be.  I went with the hand-sliced option, which was cut into perfectly thick, yieldingly tender slices of fatty — but not too fatty — beef.  I had a bite or two where the fat was slightly unrendered and tough, however, for the most part it was perfectly cooked.

But this wasn’t pastrami — it was a pepper sandwich with meat.

It came with a small side of coleslaw, which wasn’t much better.  It tasted okay, but it was weirdly mushy.  The soup, at least, was quite good.  Despite my deli love, this was my first taste of matzoh ball soup, and yeah — I can see the appeal.  The matzoh ball essentially performs the same function as crumbling crackers into soup, only far more substantial and satisfying.  Aside from that, it was just an above average chicken soup.  Tasty stuff.

Sid's Deli - the restaurant Sid's Deli - the pastrami