Wilensky’s Light Lunch

Review by: Michael Stern

Moe Wilensky’s Light Lunch – a Spartan corner diner with institutional green walls and an elbow-worn wood-grain pattern Formica counter – might depress a patron in search of fun. Wilensky’s has no sense of humor. It has rules. Pay when served. No tipping allowed. Sandwiches will not be cut in half. The Wilensky “special” is available garnished one and only one way, with mustard. Because all specials are the same, yours will be slapped down on the counter in seconds. It comes on wax paper; a plate would be too decorous. It is thin slices of all-beef baloney and salami on a roll (a slice of cheese is the one option), the whole package cooked in a press similar to the plancha used to make a Cuban sandwich. The press squeezes it flat and the roll becomes two crisp tiles around the meat. Served steaming-warm, its flavor teases the same pleasure zone as a kosher hot dog, but with the added crunch of the toasted roll. Soda fountain Cokes are available with cherry flavoring; the beverage menu also includes soda frappes, known in New York as egg creams.

Unlike the city’s delis, which seem always to be boisterous, and its espresso shops, which fairly buzz with caffeinated joy, Wilensky’s is museum-quiet and the staff can be more curt than courteous. Opposite the nine-stool counter where diners eat side-by-side are shelves of beat-up paperback books. “For sale?” we ask the widow Wilensky, who stands with her arms folded to express annoyance at our curiosity.

“Half the cover price,” she answers wearily.

On top of the case that holds the books is another bargain: a pair of P205x55Rx16 B.F. Goodrich snow tires that look good as new. “What else do you have for sale?” we inquire.

We have pressed our luck too far. Madame turns her back and attends to business. We’ve paid, we’ve eaten, our seats at the counter have been occupied by others. Our time is up.

What To Eat

Wilensky Special

Frappe (egg cream)


Wilensky’s Light Lunch Recipes


What do you think of Wilensky’s Light Lunch?

One Response to “Wilensky’s Light Lunch”

Jess Siu

March 13th, 2009

As a student at nearby McGill University, I feel Wilensky’s is a great place to go for its bargain price. A Wilensky Special is a deal at $4.50 when ordered with cheese. The all-beef salami combined with Swiss cheese and mustard make the sandwich altogether very satisfying. The cornbread roll is one of the best parts since it adds a bit of sweetness with every bite. It’s pressed down and has a nice bready, slightly-fluffy texture. Their side dish of pickles complements the flavors very well.

Wilensky’s also has cold sandwiches that can be ordered on the cornbread roll or the same roll with onions. Traditional egg salad replaces the all-beef salami for one in particular. It’s a no-frills kind of egg salad sandwich, very traditional, with no relish or added condiments.

The chocolate milkshake is simply chocolate syrup combined with 2% milk, but its whipped texture is quite nice. It is also important to note that you should pay immediately after you order to look like you’re a regular. Oh, and the staff is polite, but definitely not super-friendly.

Overall Wilensky’s is a great lunch counter with lots of history (open since 1932) and provides a satisfying meal for less than $8. Well worth the trip!

The best bagel shop in Montreal is also on the next block! Fairmont Bagels is by far the best I’ve ever had, and you can get a half-dozen to go for only $3.50.


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