Restaurant: Wilensky’s Light Lunch
Location: 34 Fairmount Avenue W, Montreal, QC H2T 2M1
Price Range: $
Open since 1932, Wilensky’s light lunch is still own and run by the Wilensky’s family. The shop was featured on Mind of a Chef with Anthony Bourdain and David Chang of Momofuku, and their famous sandwich was also listed as the best sandwiches around the world in 2012. Note that if you don’t like mustard, do not come to this place. They will not take out the mustard or cut the sandwich in half for you, that’s just how they have been serving since 1932! Also, they only serve lunch and open from 9am to 4pm every day. They also only take cash and they do not allow tipping!
The decor is nostalgic with copy of articles where the restaurant was mentioned and photos of loyal customers since its opening in 1932. If you ask, they can even show you pictures of the owners with Anthony Bourdain and David Chang! Seating was quite limited with a few stools at the counter, thus this is more of a grab-and-go place. However if you really need seats, then know that the turnaround time is quick as nobody really lingers here.
The staff behind the counter were friendly and happy to discuss about the shop and its history. However, some things won’t happen, at any price. Cutting your sandwich in half, exchanging to another sauce: forget about it. There was even a big sign which reads: “When ordering a Special, you should know a thing or two. It is always served with mustard; it is never cut in two. Don’t ask us why; just understand that this is nothing new. This is the way that it’s been done since 1932.” In other words: Don’t mess with tradition.
Of course I had to order their classic sandwich, the “Wilensky’s special which consisted of all-beef salami and all-beef bologna, grilled, in a roll with mustard and you may ask to have it with either swiss or cheddar cheese. The food is made upon ordering and it arrived piping hot! Note that there aren’t any fancy plates utensils here. All the sandwiches were served on a napkin or in a brown bag.
The sandwich was GLORIOUS. So simple yet so good, it will hit you in all the right spots. If you don’t know what kind of cheese to choose, I would recommend the swiss cheese over the cheddar as the former is a bit milder, which would enhances the flavor of the sandwich. I regret not ordering the pickles and their soda as I heard Wilensky has syrups in house that they mix with soda, and there are so many flavors to choose from!
Overall Wilensky’s is a must-visit in Montreal because it’s such a slice of history. However do not come here if you’re extremely hungry, unless of course you want to eat 3 bologna sandwiches. I say come here if you are looking for a light light, then walk a block up the street to Fairmont Bagel or St. Viateur (a bit further) for some of the best bagels you will ever have.