And it took a homesick Montrealer
to bring it to us. Mile End
, which opened a couple of months ago in Boerum Hill, is named for a Montreal neighborhood
that has been home to numerous European immigrant groups over the years. It's a Montreal-style deli-cafe that offers a number of that city's specialties
, including smoked meat, poutine, and Montreal bagels imported from St. Viateur
Not so long ago I researched the current Brooklyn Jewish deli sandwich scene
. One of the places I visited, Jay and Lloyd's, had a formidable pastrami but a piss-poor corned beef.
Mile End's house-cured smoked meat is better than any pastrami or corned beef in Brooklyn, certainly up to a contest with any in Manhattan, and even better than lots of smoked meat in Montreal. The Montreal smoked meat process involves both smoking and slow steaming, which gives it a pastrami-like flavor with more of a corned-beef consistency, the best of two worlds. But even in Montreal you'll find that the texture varies from place to place. Indeed, most Montreal smoked meats I've tried (e.g., Reuben's and the now-defunct Ben's) had a rather smooth, slippery surface to the sliced meat. Not until I tried Schwartz's, with the craggy texture of a good old New York corned beef, did I find a smoked meat I could truly love. Well, Mile End's smoked meat is clearly modeled on the Schwartz's style.
The meat is hand-sliced, but Mile End slices theirs much thicker than any I've had in Montreal--a tad too thick, I'd say. It is wonderfully moist, with a good fat to lean ratio. My only real complaint is the overabundance of black peppercorns, which threatens to overpower the other flavors. The sandwiches, at $8, might be smaller than the humongous New York deli sandwiches of today, but they're quite ample, and ounce for ounce I'd say more bang for the buck. The meat tends to act a bit unruly and tumble out of the bread, partly due to the thickness of the slices.
A little more slicing finesse and a little less black pepper and this smoked meat could be a contender for the best damn deli sandwich in all New York.
97A Hoyt Street
Brooklyn, New York 11217