Yitz’s Delicatessen and Catering
346 Eglinton Avenue West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $30
One of my very first jobs in Toronto was at Eglinton and Avenue Road, and ever since then, I’ve loved going to Yitz’s. Between the Eglinton location and the old Switzer’s on Spadina Avenue, these two restaurants often made me wish I had my very own Jewish Grandmother who would stuff me with blintzes and latkes and matzo.
Yitz’s offers a weekend brunch menu in addition to their regular fare of sandwiches, beef hot dogs, boiled chicken and flunken. Other than pancakes, pretty much everything on the brunch menu is eggy with a pile of omelettes and variations of scrambled eggs. There are also lots of bagel options ranging from a basic bagel with butter ($1.35) to a bagel with lox and cream cheese ($9.95).
We mix and match from the brunch and regular menus, starting with a couple of knishes, one meat and one potato ($3.50 each). The pastry is golden and eggy, the potato filling rich and creamy. The meat knish impresses less, with the ground beef filling having a dark, beefy smell and flavour that, as a former vegetarian, I often find a turn-off.
After first considering the classic lox and eggs and onions ($9.25) the husband settles on salami and eggs, pancake-style ($7.95). This is basically an omlette with the salami mixed into the egg mixture. It’s good and greasy, the eggs fluffy and almost batter-like, with some not too spicy salami. But it’s heavy and along with the side of lattice cut flat French fries, the hungry husband is overwhelmed, particularly by the sheer quantity of meat.
Since Yitz’s doesn’t offer blintzes, I’m all about the latkes. The appetizer version ($3.95) is two golden hockey puck-sized potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream. These ones are slightly overdone on the edges and are onion-free, so they’re not actually my favourite latkes in the city. But they’re fluffy and golden on the inside, and crisp on the outside, which is what counts.
I pair the latkes with an order of gefilte fish off the “healthy” selection on the back of the regular menu ($5.25). This classic Jewish dish of deboned and poached fish is formed into a quenelle or football shape, although it can also be served in balls or patties. Yitz’s serves up their gefilte fish with ruby-red horseradish sauce made with beets. This size of the dish (as opposed to the appetizer version at $3.95 or the entrée version at $7.95) was accompanied by a salad made predominantly of diced cabbage, sliced carrots and peppers in a light vinaigrette. It was an interesting and refreshing dish that would be lovely on a summer day.
Service at Yitz’s is always amusing and interesting. We watched a manager efficiently directing customer traffic to the empty tables, as the place turned over quickly without there ever being a line backed up at the door. The food was fast, the coffee was refilled regularly, and our server was friendly and efficient.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a visit to Yitz’s without a stop at the bakery take-out counter at the front, and a mixed box of rugelach ($14.95/pound) to take home for later.