i was strolling kensington market for an afternoon of grazing when the email about goldin's at the free times cafe came in. what luck! we made our way over and thought this would be the perfect time for me to get in a second go at caplanskys (since the new place opened up) and really have at them side by side. it turned out to be a tasty afternoon.
starting out at free times cafe, the goldin's sandwich hasn't made it onto the menu yet but comes as a combo (with fries, coleslaw or salad) for $10.95. the size of the sandwich doesn't seem to be consistent because it looks to be based on the size of the bread (we invited other CHs out midway though our meal and doubled back so they could try it, their sandwich was larger), i'd say it was about the same size as at caplansky's. the smoked meat was tender, juicy and fell apart nicely (we asked for a fatty cut). the smoke was subtle and the spicing very reminiscent of montreal smoked meat but a bit muted (no spice crusting on the edges which one can keep on or reinsert at home). it was also served with caraway rye. mustard options were limited to honey or yellow. it arrived with a pickle but i didn't focus on it. it was a great sandwich. though i could have had the spicing bumped up a tiny bit, my only real complaint was the tang of salt that i felt nearly immediately after finishing at the back of my tongue. i suspect this is from the cure. i wouldn't suggest the coleslaw side because of the intense sweetness, but it had good texture otherwise.
over at caplanskys they still seem to have some serving snaffoos (fries arriving with the soup order and pretty much devoured before the sandwiches showed up) but nothing truly serious. the sandwiches were less aggressive in smoke than usual but were still smokier than goldin's. the spicing was strong but well integrated. the meat was a bit dry but still moist and tender enough at medium fat (full fat was also tasted). but it just didn't quite fall apart right and held steadfastly together. zane is holding back his personal mustard until he's ready to focus on the production he needs, but several kozlik's along with honey and yellow mustards are available. combos here are $11 and the fries as usual are quite tasty. a nice caplansky's sandwich for sure, but for me and the rest of the table goldin's won out by a small margin.