Winter is coming! Words that make most Calgarians cringe, myself included. It’s unfortunately time to dust off the winter gear and get ready for the deep freeze. When the weather starts to change (for the worse), my food cravings tend to follow suit. Gone are the cravings for light and fresh dishes and in comes cravings for something rich and hearty that will stick to my ribs. Luckily, I’ve discovered a joint with some killer comfort food a few short blocks away in Grumans Delicatessen. With a Sunday lunch planned with my parents, I could think of no better place to go, now that the snow is upon us.
If you did not know where Grumans is, you would pass by it without a second glance. Tucked away on 11th Ave in between 1st St SE and Macleod Trail, this hidden gem offers many different options when it comes to the Jewish deli classics. Take note, Grumans focuses mainly on the breakfast and lunch crowd, as they are only open until 3:30 PM everyday of the week.
When you walk into Grumans, the space screams “old school deli” – warm and inviting with aromas of smoked meat filling the air. On this particular Sunday, the dining room was completely full giving Grumans a good buzz! The aforementioned dining room is filled with tables and booths leading to a take-out counter. One wall is covered in sports paraphernalia and old school family portraits, the other side really brightens up the restaurants with some windows lined with empty Matzo Meal containers. Meanwhile, the back walls were adorned with words of wisdom, my favorite being “Stay Until You’re Full”.
I opened the menu and wanted to order one of everything! Latkes, knishes, kosher pickles – I’m drooling just thinking about it. However, my craving were for comfort food so I just had to order the classic Chicken Motza Ball soup. I have never had this Jewish favorite but figured it was about time to change that. It featured a clear homemade chicken broth, with a few carrots and scallions. Dropped right in the middle, the star of the show, the motza ball, which was surprisingly light and added substance to the dish. A very simple dish, with nothing to complicate or muddle the flavors. The dill garnish added a whole lot to this classic soup.
I let my parents decided what to order before making a choice of my own, since my family tends to share everything around the the table. I already knew my mom would order the burger, while my dad flip-flopped through the menu while finally landing on the classic Ruben. Seeing as my parents ordered my first and second choice, I asked the waitress for her recommendation and went with the blackened salmon sandwich.
The Maple Bacon Burger, sans bacon, was gigantic! The fresh ground chuck patty gives great beefy flavour while maintaining a great texture. Fresh ground meat makes a huge difference in a burger! The fried onions added a crisp, the tomato salsa cut through the richness, the bun was soft on the outside and toasted on the inside. The citrus aoili was missing in action but there was a lot going on in this burger, so that wasn’t surprising. The fresh cut fries were crispy on the outside with soft on the inside – the perfect fry. The plate also came with some lightly dressed coleslaw, a deli classic that was well done.
Up next was the Reuben, which was a great take on a timeless sandwich. Grilled rye bread piled high with loads of fresh smoked meat, topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. I mean when everything works so well together, sometimes you just let the picture tell the story. The one glaring omission from the dish was the lack of a pickle, which should 100% come mandatory with this sandwich to cut the richness. This is like having pizza without cheese, pad thai without noodles…I think you get where I’m going with this.
The blackened salmon sandwich was a lighter lunch option, which wasn’t a bad choice considering the other heavy items on the table. Pan fried salmon filets, which weren’t as blackened as I’d hoped but still tasted delicious, sat on top of a freshly made bun. The raw onion was a bit overpowering but added a nice kick while the fried capers added a bit of texture and brininess. The dill remoulade was the creamy component to tie the sandwich together. This dish was served with a fantastic potato salad which had great balance of flavours. Perfectly cooked potatoes, with raw carrots and scallions, that came heavily dressed.
If you’re looking for something flashy and out of the box, this won’t be your destination. Instead Grumans offers you perfectly executed deli staples, with everything made in house. So if you’re looking for comfort food, Grumans is a solid destination. This was an easy 4.0 on Zomato and may have even been higher if not for the missing pickle!