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Eat & Drink

Caplansky's food truck

Posted by Lauren Souch / July 24, 2011

Caplanskys Food TruckCaplansky's Deli has officially joining the ranks of gourmet food gone mobile. On Thursday, the neighborhood favourite launched a much-anticipated Food Truck, hitting up the Beaches Jazz Festival for its debut night.

While at the Jazz Festival Friday, I stopped by the truck, nicknamed "Thundering Thelma" (after owner Zane Caplansky's Nana) to check it out.

caplanskys food truckTo start off the meal, my friend and I split a Pickle on a Stick ($2). Yeah, that's exactly what it sounds like. I'm a recent pickle convert - and was eager to try a kosher deli pickle. We ordered our entire meal, were given a number, and stepped aside for a few minutes to wait for our food. The pickle came out first - and not only was it giant, it was also deliciously juicy.

caplanskys food truckCaplansky's truck had a consistent stream of customers, but little to no line, so our sandwiches came out before we had even finished the pickle. I ordered the traditional smoked meat sandwich ($10, and a favourite) and my friend Mike ordered the BBQ Brisket on a Bun (also $10).

caplanskys food truckNow, I'm not usually a fan of brisket - but I of course had to at least try it. It was really juicy and saucy (perhaps a little too saucy, in my opinion - but Mike disagreed). The sauce tasted both sweet and tangy, and was a nice complement to the perfectly cooked and seasoned brisket.

caplanskys food truckThe smoked meat sandwich came with the right amount of meat (not too much, but not skimping) and was exactly the one-of-a-kind smoky flavour I've come to expect out of the sandwich in-store. My only complaint is the mustard pump squirts out WAY too fast, essentially drowning my poor sandwich. Luckily there were some plastic forks nearby to help with that situation - I'll be sure to press very slowly next time.

caplanskys food truckTo top off our meal, we shared a bag of Maple and Beef-Bacon donuts (which were actually donut holes). How can you resist that combination? We chose to get 6 ($5), but you can also order 3 ($3), or 12 ($9).

caplanskys food truckAfter my first bite, I have to admit I was disappointed. The inside of the donut itself was slightly dry and plain tasting, and the maple glaze over top was lacking a little something, though I couldn't put my finger on it. There was no sign of the beef bacon. After eating three, however, we discovered the problem: all the beef bacon bits had fallen to the bottom of the bag. Once we realized this, and scooped them back onto the donut my opinion changed drastically: they were absolutely delicious. The sweet, sticky maple glaze soaked the bacon bits, providing the perfect compliment to the salty flavour of the beef bacon, and with the extra glaze the donuts no longer seemed dry.

caplanskys food truckThe only thing we didn't try were the fries and coleslaw, but judging by the quality of the rest of the food I imagine it would be similar to the ones found in the Deli.

Thundering Thelma, who has her own Twitter page with updated location information, will be at the Toronto Waterfront Night Market today (Sunday).



Khristopher / July 24, 2011 at 04:06 am
I really think that $10 for a basic meat sandwich is a bit much. A few slices of meat, and a couple of slices or rye bread, and some mustard.
Scott / July 24, 2011 at 07:38 am
I went by twice last night; once around 6:30 and again around 9. On the first pass they had two customers; on the second none at all. One person said "Hey; It's Caplansky's" and wander over for a closer look but when they saw the prices they walked away. Their pricing was definitely working against them; most of the other vendors were selling a full meal for $8.
jer / July 24, 2011 at 11:40 am
WOW.... it is good that the the pickle was put on a stick to look like a lolipop because only suckers would buy that thing at $2... I had no issues with Caplansky before but his pricing is ridiculous. If he can find people to buy sandwiches for $10 and pickles for $2 then I guess it just shows there is demand for food trucks... but, still... that is nuts...

Bartek / July 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm
As someone from Eastern Europe, I will never justify paying $2 for a godamn pickle!

Caplansky's makes a good sandwich, but it's tough to dish out $10 for a simple meat/bread sandwich, especially from a food truck. Food truck eats should be affordable and simple to chow down, and the only thing this truck has going for it is the simple portion.
markb / July 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm
Cap's is only ok at the best of times. Decidedly average deli fare. At those prices, I'd never buy their food. Drop the prices and maybe I'd consider trying it.
Pickleschtick, Mr. / July 24, 2011 at 01:01 pm
If it's too expensive (which I believe it is), don't buy. They will get the message soon enough. Simple economics.

If it seems like too much it probably is.
Nicole / July 24, 2011 at 03:04 pm
Awesome to finally see some great street food trucks in business in Toronto!!! - it's not a hot dog people!! it's not going to cost $4
Ms. Sticky Pickle / July 24, 2011 at 03:35 pm
I don't think anyone wants it to cost $4.00, but maybe $8? It's a truck. Much lower overhead. Also, it's a vehicle (pardoney pun)to lure people into the restaurant. Don't scare 'em away.

$2 pickles = gouging.

Jordan / July 24, 2011 at 03:45 pm
Free the pickles!
P replying to a comment from Marc Bernstein / July 24, 2011 at 04:04 pm
Schwartz's is $6.15 for a sandwich dude.
nick d / July 24, 2011 at 04:59 pm
yeah, and a pickle at Schwartz's is $1.67...
big deal! if you don't want one, don't buy one.
ml replying to a comment from Marc Bernstein / July 24, 2011 at 08:14 pm
Mark, I couldn't agree with you more! That Duckdown guy has nothing but bad things to say about anything new. I've seen his comments for the past several years and he will never have anything positive to say. (see Chowhound)
Duckdown, find a new alias and try to be nice for once!
Or open your own place and let us critique you.
Good for Caplansky for giving this a go.
harry / July 24, 2011 at 08:38 pm
Duckdown is an idiot who thinks anything that requires a knife and fork is pretentious yuppie food but he's nothing compared to texsqaured who is a loudmouth hypocrite with a pro-American bias that is nauseating. His constant refrain of 'death to poseurs' and 'give me an American chain any day' is so tired. Add in the chorus of kagemusha, vinnie, et al and chowhound is unbearable. The amount of hate they take delight in dishing out on zane is almost psychotic.
Zane / July 24, 2011 at 09:53 pm
Thanks for your support and constructive criticism, peeps. You may notice in the photos that the menu is printed on a vinyl banner. What you don't see is the regular menu underneath. We created a Festival Menu for two reasons: 1. Because this was our first event we wanted to keep the menu limited and 2. Because the landing fees were quite high so we had to slightly raise our prices.

In the deli we charge $8 for a 7oz. sandwich. That's $9.04 with tax. The regular truck price is $7 per sandwich because of the lower costs in operating a truck. Take a look: http://www.torontolife.com/daily/daily-dish/opening-daily-dish/2011/07/22/introducing-thundering-thelma/attachment/caplansky-truck/

I want to thank everyone who stopped by. The hundreds of people who bought sandwiches overwhelmingly liked the food and I loved the way our team came together and managed the service efficiently.

Given all the hoops we have to jump through, bringing great street food to Toronto isn't easy but its something I believe in passionately. We're on a steep learning curve and I appreciate all the feedback.
Brad / July 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm
Another reason Caplanskys deserves support, the guy who runs it really gives a shit.
I can't wait to try the truck, and really, a bucket of fries will cost you $6.00 I don't think a sandwich made with such authenticity is expensive at $10.00
Deli Mensch / July 24, 2011 at 10:56 pm
Kudos to ZK for making this happen. Gotta say, though.... a real deli sandwich isn't cheap - the very essence of it is to fress: big portions! Ya can't give that away. Now that being said, I wish Pancer's had a truck, because that the best deli sandwich you'll have in TO. Their pastrami is the best. Pancer's Deli on Bathurst. Caplansky's smoked meat is ok..... too smoky... it's like they put liquid smoke in there.... too smoky. But I still support the idea of Ashkenaz grub on wheels. Mazel tov.
deliguy / July 25, 2011 at 12:26 am
1) caplanskys is no way at all better then schwartzs ever, its not even better then pancers (which is the best deli in TO by any and all standards).
2) $10 for a good deli sandwich is not that unreasonable, plus who wants the change in their pocket. if only it tasted as good as it did when they were cooking out of the monarch tavern, then it would have been well worth the $10.

Syncros / July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Props to ZK for having cans of Vernors available. Best ginger ale ever and the perfect way to wash down a delicious smoked meat sandwich. When I walked by the truck there was very short lines.. compared to the Churros stand which was lined up 30 people deep. Maybe add Churros to your menu? :)
leo replying to a comment from Syncros / August 3, 2011 at 12:41 am
I know the churros... he has a place in Kensington Market at el gordos fine foods. check out the food court and patio there..wow just fantastic... $10.00 bucks fpr a plain meat sandwich... dam the pulled pork in kensington is a steel for $6.00 topped with garilc black beans and cheese and plantin.
FTWK / August 6, 2011 at 04:56 am
$10 for a boil-in-bag 6oz portion of meat slapped between some rye is highway f*cking robbery.

That anyone can try and defend the "authenticity" or "slow food" aspect of this truck makes me gag.

I waited a long time for this truck and was sorely disappointed by the result.

Don't even get me started on how far before the horse Zane put his cart. Most shrewd businessmen would have all their ducks in a row before BLASTING the world with PR and hype. Two months of delays and excuses predated this monstrosity.

The worst part: he spent weeks and months talking about this being the "first truck of its kind in the city," completely disregarding all of the other trucks with high-quality food being passed out their windows for quite some time.

To think that there are only going to be more trucks and trailers with his mug splashed across the side (tacky self-absorption much?) makes me throw up in my mouth a little.
Jason replying to a comment from Zane / August 6, 2011 at 08:54 am
Props to you, Zane, for coming on the board. Good luck with the truck.

Marc Bernstein / October 19, 2012 at 05:29 pm
I have been a loyal booster and supporter of Zane Caplansky's fantastic deli since Day 1.
My late father,Former President of Famous Players Theatres Jack Bernstein,would have respected and patronized Caplansky's great deli. I grew up with some legendary delis in Toronto: the unique,long gone original Shopsys,when Sam Shopsowitz still ran it,Switzers,(sic) Yitzes.
I think Zane Caplansky is exactly right and I for one applaud him when he tells it like it is: Re: nameless nasty,super pretencious,snobs,anti-semitic Chowhound Toronto,Yelp,Blog TO assholes or trolls who post without their real names!
In the wake of that sad girl who killed herself due to internet cyber-bullies (Trolls) I say it is time to expose these hateful,sick,rotten internet trolls and ruin them!
To Zane Caplansky: you have a great deli.
It is wonderful and for me personally Zane,a great mitzvah that you are reviving a once long extinct Toronto Jewish neighborhood deli tradition-following in the wake of United Bakers on College,Benny's Bagel,long gone-College,Switzers-used to be on College-long gone.
Frankly,Chowhound,Yelp,Blog TO and other foodie "clubs" are becoming a forum for trolls to try to ruin people.
Marc Bernstein / March 10, 2013 at 03:23 pm
Each time I read Chowhound Toronto board I become more turned off than ever by the hate and anti-semitism shown by nasty Chowhounders like Kagemusha (A real bitch too)
Duckdown, a "varmint" from Brampton,Vinnie Vindamangi,
(A putz) Hopefully,Chowhound and Yelp and BlogTO boards will all go the way of the Passenger Pigeon.
I still think Caplansky's is wonderful,love going to UB or United Bakers Dairy,love and enjoy Yitzes, love Bagel World, St.Urbain Bagel at Bathurst and Eglinton.
In addition for out of town,I really love lunch or dinners at Chez Piggy in Kingston.
Who is this lousy witch Kagemusha anyway?!
to Kagemusha: up yours you nasty Chowhound Nazi!
Steven replying to a comment from Marc Bernstein / March 10, 2013 at 05:16 pm

Your last sentence on your post is considered a hate crime, especially using the 'N' word to which you freely posted.

Think of YOUR consequences before calling people names on a public board.
Ashley / September 17, 2013 at 06:18 pm
My experience with Caplansky's food truck was recommending them for my friends wedding, for which I was doing the day planning.
It seemed like a great option, they went for the tasting, loved the food and booked the truck. Email confirmation and contracts in place.
Four months before the wedding my friend called to confirm numbers and food specifications and they didn't return her calls. A few days later, they called to let her know that they wouldn't be at her wedding because they were going to go to the CNE instead.
The CNE is the exact same time every single year. And they knew that when they took her booking, but told her they didn't want to turn down the CNE because it was more money.
Four months before her wedding. On one of the busiest wedding days of the year. They offered little apologies and no recommendations for an alternative except offering to 'drop off' poutine around 7pm. Obviously cold soggy poutine was not what she was hoping to serve.
Thanks for nothing Caplanksy's.

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