Mile End
97A Hoyt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

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As a Jewish kid from the suburbs of NYC, I naturally grew up eating Kosher deli. When I moved to Smith Street about 8 years ago I was saddened to see that none was available in the area. Sure, I could go to Williamsburg, Crown Heights, or the Lower East Side, but I wanted something local.

My hope with Mile End was that this void would finally be filled. Plus, they offered a twist – this was Montreal-style. And would you believe I took my first breath at Montreal Jewish Hospital?

Inside Mile End

My first mistake about Mile End was that I assumed it to be Kosher or at least Kosher-style. I was immediately corrected – “It’s Montreal Jewish,” said the fellow taking my order. The shop’s owner Noah Bermanoff was busy slicing smoked meat during this interaction – and my attention was drawn not to him, but the smoky, peppery goodness that resembled my beloved Kosher pastrami. The restaurant has three large wooden picnic tables, and one small one, plus a bar in front of the counter where you can watch your lunch being made before you eat it. I asked what is good, and was directed to that smoked meat (which they actually call smoked meat) which they described as being their version of pastrami. I ordered it on rye with mustard. Mile End makes their own mustard. In fact, “all meat, fish, & vegetables are house pickled, cured, and smoked using local, pastured, line-caught, & sustainable ingredients whenever possible.” I got a side of cole slaw and a Virgil’s Cherry Cream Soda to go. The whole thing cost me $13.50.

Mile End Smoked Meat

My initial reaction to the look of the sandwich was, “My savior has arrived.” This sandwich is made smaller than typical Kosher NY Deli – a good thing when trying to not eat a whole side of beef for lunch. When I finally tasted it my opinion changed, but not by much. This sandwich is good! Let’s make sure that’s clear. I was just expecting something else. The home-made mustard has great flavor, but lacks spice. The meat is smoky and tender and tasty, but again lacks spice, and is very fatty. I would take the fat and spread it on toast – it’s that delicious, but I would have preferred my sandwich to have more meat, and less fat. I also like a heartier rye. But that’s just me.

The cole slaw is also quite good, but lacks spice. Do Montreal Jews just not like their food to have a lot of spice compared to us New Yorkers? I don’t know. I ate every bite. And I enjoyed myself. I even enjoyed the Virgil’s Cherry Cream Soda – it’s not Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry, but I should probably have stopped comparing this to New York Deli already.

The Ruth Wilensky - Salami on Presed Onion Roll with Mustard

On a second visit I opted instead for the Ruth Wilensky for $7 – a salami sandwich pressed on an onion roll with their homemade mustard.  They must take a lot of pride in this mustard because to order something without mustard they charge you an additional ten cents.  I did, however prefer the salami over the smoked meat.  I felt the sandwich was heartier and tastier.

Mile End also served breakfst until noon including a bagel with cream cheese for $3 or $3.50 with tomato & onion, a breakfast sandwich for $6 with chazzer (meat hook Canadian bacon), eggs, & 2 year Quebec cheddar on rye (kosher, this is not), mish-mash for $8 – eggs scrambled with salami or lox, onion, & greens, the beauty – lox on a bagel with cream cheese, tomato, red onion & capers – $8 for closed, or $11 for open faced.  The word on the street is the bagels are inferior to others served in the neighborhood.  But they do serve Stumptown Coffee, so if your coffee is more important to you than your bagel, then you’re good to go.  Plus, I again think the bagels are a preference.  They’re not New York bagels, and when you’re used to New York bagels it’s hard to enjoy anything else.

Aside from the smoked meat & salami other lunch items include matzo ball soup for $6.50, the Grandpa – smoked turkey breast on rye with mustard for $8, sides of sour pickle for $1.50, coleslaw for $3, borscht for $5, frites for $5, and traditional Canadian poutine – frites topped with cheese curds & gravy for $8 or with smoked meat for $11. 

Mile End even does their customers the courtesy of letting us know when they’ve run out of meat for the day.  But you need to be a Twitter user.  It’s kind of like a secret club.  Click the link to follow Mile End on Twitter.