Mile End, the Montreal Jewish Deli in Brooklyn
It’s been a while since I’ve taken in the awesomeitude of a deli. Ok, granted, Mile End is not your typical kosher deli with the old guys carving up meat behind the counter. It has a hipper (or hipster), contemporary feel like most restaurants around NYC, where younger guys with beards carve meat behind the counter. It’s in the laid back neighborhood of Cobble Hill (or maybe it’s Boerum Hill) in Brooklyn. It has bright white walls, sleek communal tables, and Portishead on the speakers. But it also has that smell that made me melt right into my seat: smoking meat, brine, toasting breads. The holy trinity of Jewish cuisine. Mile End was opened up by a guy from Montreal named Noah Bernamoff, so the deli has some Montreal-style food like poutine, a giant plate of french fries with gravy and cheese curds. Since my doctor told me to lose 6 pounds, I opted out of this big plate of man boobs and ordered the Hoyt Dog and a side of pletzel.
I might be putting up a few redundant photos, but I wanted to include the one above to check out the beautiful char on the dog and bun. First I need to say that when I took my first bite, I felt involuntarily compelled to tell one of the carvers behind the counter how incredible the whole sandwich was. His response was “Ooooh yeah. It actually won some kind of award for being the best hot dog in the city or something.” I have tried to find out what the award is and can’t find it. However, I think it deserves an award, and is my favorite of the year. Alright, let me try to reign in my stream of consciousness and get to the dog.
Everything on this sandwich is homemade, except maybe the mustard, and I’m actually not sure about the bun. BUT ANYWAY…and most importantly, the all-beef dog is homemade, smoked behind the counter, and then grilled up on the flat top. I think it’s skinless because there wasn’t any snap, but it tasted so good. The poppy seed bun was not overly bready, and was also cooked on the flat top for what seemed like a really long time. All that time helps pick up all that flavor from the grill and chars the hell out of the bread. It was crisp and soft in all the right places. My brother recently said that a sandwich is nothing without good bread, and this is a delicious bun.
I found the homemade toppings to be outstanding. The sauerkraut seemed like it was sliced off the cabbage at some point that day, taking on the irregular shape of the vegetable instead of the packages of uniform kraut that most places get. The other topping was a sweet pepper relish, sliced from green and red peppers, and marinated in pure pleasure. And like any self-respecting deli, the only mustard in sight is brown and grainy. So to recap: crispy and soft charred bun, smoked beef, sweet relish, tangy kraut, and spicy mustard creating a perfect confluence of flavors.
As for the side, I decided to get a plate of pletzel, which I haven’t had since eating lunch at my grandparents’ house over 15 years ago. Pletzel is basically onion bread. Yeah, I got a side order of bread with my sandwich. I thought it was pretty good but my grandmother’s was way better. I like this place and will come back again. There’s only 19 seats and I hear that weekends are completely jammed, but I like the idea of a take-out window. Also, the menu is a bit pricey, a fact that the owner acknowledges (in an interview I read) but also talks about the time and labor put into all their homemade items. The hot dog has me wondering about the quality of the rest of the smoked meats, like that awesome brisket the guy was carving up in front of my face. And I will embrace my future with man boobs and order that poutine!
Mile End 97A Hoyt Street, Brooklyn NY