Following my magical mystery tour yesterday (here if you want), I stopped in at Reuben’s (established 1976) for their $9.95 smoked meat special. Mike Williamson had suggested I try Reuben’s, and I was starving after roaming around looking at nearby hotel doors and glorious hockey sweaters all day, so in I went.
There are two Reuben’s, about a block apart on Ste. Catherines, just west of University. I was at the one downstairs, where for some reason, it had this nice downstairs feel to it. I like that. There’s too many restaurants out there that feel like cafeterias. So a nice, clean, dark downstairs with booths and some stained glass in the ceiling was a good place to eat smoked meat, I thought.
Reuben’s gives you the choice of lean, medium, or fatty smoked meat, which I appreciated and what sets them apart from Schwartz’s and Smoke Meat Pete’s. I chose medium, because that’s the kind of guy I am, while Schwartz’s automatically came lean and Smoke Meat Pete’s fatty. Pete’s had better french fries than Reuben’s. And they have live blues. So it’s a tough one.
I didn’t like the cole slaw at either place, and at Schwartz’s, all I had was the sandwich. So I don’t know how the fries and extras are there. But it doesn’t really matter, because I go to these places because I’m on a quest. And the quest isn’t to put on four hundred pounds.
All in all, when it came down to the nitty gritty, I feel Reuben’s smoked meat was just as good or better than Pete’s, but in my heart, not as good as Schwartz’s. But Reuben’s has kind of a old-school, downtown, downstairs Montreal feel to it, which is a real plus.
I wonder how much the leases are on stores and restaurants in areas like downtown Ste. Catherines. How many thousands a month it must be. How many smoked meat sandwiches must be sold to pay it. And how do little shops do it? That’s a lot of gum and postcards.
My meal came to me not even five minutes after I ordered. And the male server in my area serenaded the next table and continued to sing as he left and went elsewhere.
One thing I don’t have a handle on yet is how to hold a smoked meat sandwich. All three places pack nearly two inches on three tiny little pieces of rye. Picking it up means it falls all over the place. I don’t think there’s any other way. All I know is, this smoked meat thing isn’t helping my stomach.
The scoreboard reads so far – A-plus for Schwartz’s, A for Smoke Meat Pete’s and Reuben’s.