My father always “knows a guy” or has “a very good friend” he refers me to each and every time I go anywhere or do anything new. “Jessie. I hear you’re going to Rome. You know, I swim with a guy who’s a very close friend of the Pope.” By very close he meant the guy shook his hand once and has photographic proof. The way my dad tells it he knows someone, who knows someone, who knows everyone in the world. Forget six degrees of separation. He’s certain that he’s three away from everyone, tops. His connections don’t always pan out but when they do I’m happy he’s such a social butterfly.
We were headed to Quebec and Montreal (among other places) and he connected me with a woman from Montreal who gave us a tip that started out as a quest to see some distinctive architecture (they’re known for their outdoor staircases of all things…you can see them in this handsome picture of the hubby) in the Plateau-Mont-Royal area of Montreal. We went. We saw. We took pictures. We got hungry. What we didn’t know was that that we had unknowingly strolled into the Mile End neighborhood. What a delightful, delicious neighborhood it was.
Two of the best bagel shops in Montreal are located in Mile End (I recommend Fairmount). Delicious poutine can be found around every turn (we liked Resto la Banquise). And then there’s the smoked meat.
A Jewish deli staple in Montreal, smoked meat is a cured, then hot smoked, then steamed brisket. It is divine. The exact origins are disputed but it’s pretty well accepted that the creators are of Eastern European Jewish decent and the smoked meat sandwich made its debut in Montreal around the early 1900’s.
In a city like New York where you can find just about every type of food it’s no wonder you can find an outstanding Montreal smoked meat sandwich…in two locations none the less. Enter, the aptly named, Mile End Deli.
I have to start by saying that this place is some kind of expensive. Nick and I shared a smoked meat sandwich “delux” which consisted of the sandwich, a drink, two pickles and a small side of poutine. The cost was about $25. That being said, it was absolutely delicious and cheaper than a plane ticket to Canada.
Similar to corned beef, smoked meat is a cured brisket. But unlike corned beef Nick and I found the smoked meat to be delicate and tender without having the slightest bit of grease. Although Nick wasn’t fond of the price tag he did utter the phrase, “I think I like this better than corned beef”. I agreed with him.
They serve it on good quality rye with mustard. The poutine we had as a side was great (you can kill two Montreal culinary gems with one stone here). Gooey cheese curds, a very rich and meaty gravy and nicely cooked fries. We shared a celery soda and although I’m not a big soda drinker I found it refreshing and not overly sweet. Honestly, sharing the sandwich and the poutine was enough for the two of us and we’ve got shamefully large appetites.
Of course their menu is more extensive than just the smoked meat. I’ve read good things about their brunch, but honestly I’d go back for their chopped liver or maybe their Grandpa sandwich which is smoked turkey with turkey rillettes. They seem to do meat right so I’m sure both would be amazing. They also have a smoked meat burger that a gentleman across the counter from us seemed to be in love with.
There are two locations (NoHo and Boerum Hill in Brooklyn). The NoHo location is the one we visited and it had seating for about 20 people at a long counter. The Brookly location offers a few weekly specials like a $45 pre-fix Shabbat menu every Friday and a $19 smoked meat burger night that includes fries/poutine and a beer, wine or soda.
The service was extremely friendly and the food was top notch which almost made me feel bad about complaining about the cost…almost.