In town for my older daughter's soccer tournament, my wife and I tried out both
Schwartz's and Dunn's for smoked meat. (I used to be a Ben's fanatic, but it's
gone, of course.)
After a long day in the hot sun, the wife and I fell asleep in our room while dear
daughter went out for dinner with her team. We awoke at 10:30 pm, and decided
to try Schwartz's, which we had heard of many times (I am an ex-Montrealer, living
in Toronto for many years) but never tried.
My wife was taken aback when she saw the interior but it didn't bother me; in
Toronto, I've been known to eat at the Vesta Lunch and the late Canary, so I
don't need fancy seating or pretty paint to mask the food.
That said, I was not at all impressed with the sandwich. The slaw was fine, the
dill pickle was good, but the smoked meat, while it had an intense flavour, was
dry and stringy. My wife said that Katz's in Toronto was better (and I've always
thought Katz's was mediocre compared to Ben's).
Today (Sunday), we headed to Dunn's at Metcalfe and St. Catherine for lunch.
For the sake of comparison, my wife has the smoked meat sandwich; I go for
a Reuben. We both agree Dunn's is the best we've had; much juicier and tastier,
with a texture that lets you know you're eating meat, but not beef jerky. Slaw and
dills were fine; nothing to choose between Schwarzt's and Dunn's there.
Yes, Dunn's has more on the menu, but I don't think it's fair to compare dishes
that one offers that the other doesn't (and I'm basing my smoked meat comparison
on part of my Reuben where I took off the kraut and cheese, and just ate the
meat on its own). We'll definitely go back to Dunn's; Schwartz's, not so much...
PS To be scrupulously honest, my wife ordered the Dunn's cheesecake for dessert,
and wasn't too impressed with it. With the kids, we shared a basic poutine, which
tasted like the entire salt shaker had been mixed in with it.