Ever hear of the ragingly famous Wilensky special but never really quite knew where it came from? We were shocked to hear some notable Montrealers have never tried one! Simply put, it comes from Montreal, and it’s merely a grilled and pressed flat salami and bologna sandwich with mustard on a kaiser roll. That’s all. But go to Wilensky’s, formerly known as Wilensky’s Light Lunch, on Fairmount Avenue and try to order it any other way (no mustard, or add ketchup) and you will feel the wrath of the Wilensky (similar to that of Seinfeld’s infamous soup Nazi), and yes, they may choose not to serve you – you could even be banned forever. Note it: You are allowed to add cheese though.
Wilensky’s is at its heart a lunch counter and soda foundation, and for almost nine decades this has been the spot to try this Montreal delicacy (neck-and-neck with Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich and the Beauty’s Special). Sodas are mixed by hand with their old school syrup and soda water. Even if you are not a mustard lover, you will love this sandwich, and you will love the fixings that come with it. There are a few other Wilensky rules as well: the sandwich is enjoyed best with half sour pickles and cherry cokes.
Wilensky’s was founded in 1932 by Moe Wilensky. It was brought to light in Mordecai Richler’s novel, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, with scenes from the movie being filmed right in the restaurant itself. Today, the restaurant is run by Ruth Wilensky (Moe’s wife).
Many other restaurants have tried to duplicate the Wilensky special, but none have succeeded to match the original. It is well worth the trip to Mile End and to be enjoyed for either breakfast, lunch or dinner. At Notable, we do recommend you order it with cheese – it is that much better. Wilensky’s, 34 Fairmount Ave. W., Montreal.
Image from RoadFood.com.