When Halifax claims (or reclaims) a food trend, it is serious business. Recently we’ve seen a boom in Korean food, for example, surging from 1 to 6 Korean restaurants in record time. Gourmet hamburgers are another example. In 2012 alone, 4 gourmet burger restaurants opened, and 2 more are on the way. Now I’m seeing a boom in smoked meat, which apparently used to be commonplace in the 1970s or thereabouts, and is seeing a resurgence now. I’ve dined at Schwartz’s in Montreal, and Katz’s in NYC, so you can imagine my excitement when a Jewish deli opened on Agricola Street, complete with matzo ball soup and half-sour pickles (half pickle, half cucumber and totally delicious!)The smoked meat sandwich ($10.99) is piled high with hand-sliced smoked meat, very little bread to hold it together, and mustard at the table for self-application (deli-style and ballpark yellow). I had to reassemble my sandwich due to disproportionate elements, and questionable bread integrity. The platter comes with fries (or sub salad $1.99), coleslaw and a half-sour spear. The French fries did not impress me, and they are way too heavy an ally to these colossal sandwiches. Fortunately, you can substitute them with items from the side menu, such as potato knish, kasha vamishkes, potato latke, and sweet kugel (descriptions of said items are on the back of the menu). If only they would let you substitute soup…Well it certainly looks good, but how does it taste? It’s good! It is nowhere near as good as Schwartz’s, but it’s satisfying. The meat is more moist, and reminds me of a pre-cooked ham more than a house-smoked brisket. I inquired into the source of the smoked meat and was told that it is shipped from a wholesaler in Montreal. Just because it came from Montreal doesn’t make it awesome… in fact, I think in-house smoking would be a vast improvement.
There is also smoked meat in grilled cheese form! (Grilled Cheese Deluxe $9.99).
I was intrigued by the grilled all-beef salami ($10.99). Not bad, but there was just too much of it. Take out a couple slices, add mustard, and then you have a sandwich.
The mixed grill ($12.99) in an onion bun was pretty awesome. The salami is balanced with smoked meat and corned beef and everything fits snugly in the onion bun. This is a winning sandwich! The pastry is the potato-stuffed potato knish.
Despite the fact that I’m not overly impressed by the smoked meat at Hali Deli, it is a welcome addition to the city. The Reuban and the Mixed Grill are worth a return visit. If you read the menu, you will also notice some very exciting breakfast and dinner options, and a rather intriguing hamburger. More “research” is unavoidable. Next week, I will be checking out Sully’s Roast Beef and Smoked Meat as the sandwich war continues!
2389 Agricola St.