Review of Wilensky’s Montreal, Quebec by Bill Wilkat
Originally Reviewed January 7, 2015, updated Sept. 6, 2018
I’d long planned to go to this small restaurant since I first heard about it back in 1974! Yes, it was long overdue and I was thrilled to be able to take it off of my bucket list. However, we will have to go back as it’s a “blast from the past” with wonderful people working there (including a true Wilensky making it as authentic as we’d hoped for). I say we, as my wife and two of my closest friends who were visiting from out of town were also there to enjoy their famous fried salami and bologna sandwich, (traditionally served only with or without mustard on a paper napkin), and your choice of a variety of sodas made on the spot! You can also have it with or without cheese and I opted for no cheese, and thoroughly enjoyed this simple but delightful treat! Moe Wilensky was the creator of the original Wilensky Special Sandwich, and you can still see his name in the lower righthand corner of the shop’s window!
The buns are made to order for them and are slightly sweet and with just the right amount of delectable toasty crispness coming fresh off of the grill where they are gently pressed while cooking.
We were fortunate to be there at about 2 pm when it was not very busy and we could ask questions that were graciously and happily answered in a super friendly manner (which I guess might be difficult after so many years of hearing the same questions over and over).
But the history is a large part of Wilensky’s and when the late, great Mordecai Richler helped put them on the map in 1969 to have his photo taken with his son for a newspaper article, and having previously featured them in two of his books, (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Solomon Gursky Was Here), there was no going back–and, that celebrity status strengthened further in 1974 when “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” was released as a movie featuring a very young Richard Dreyfuss in his first lead role. Notable celebrities also visited and ate there such as the late Anthony Bourdain, so that should make you curious enough to go and see why!
Now after 86 years in business, it’s wonderful to find a Montreal institution like this where time seems to have stood still, and you can enjoy not only a delightful, quickly served, hot sandwich, but also feel so welcomed and appreciated. In an era where things change so rapidly, and often not for the better, it feels like going home again, and a true pleasure.
If you are a tourist, be sure to stop in and see what I mean, and bring cash as just like the old days, you’ll need it to pay for your meal. If you live in Montreal and have not been there, there’s no time like the present–go and enjoy!
Oh, and be sure to have a pickle with that sandwich too! I forgot to ask, but they seem like they must have been made there too.
Now you can “Time Travel” and satisfy that hunger at the same time!