This past Monday, the much buzzed about Mile End, a "Montreal Jewish Delicatessen" located in Boerum Hill, opened to the relief of the local meat lovers and Québécois. Owner Noah Bernamoff, a Brooklyn Law School student who let meat cravings get the best of him, serves up Montreal-style smoked meat, salami sandwiches, and poutine. They're even flying in bagels from St. Viateur, a bakery from back home, and serving the seemingly ubiquitous Stumptown coffee. Though it's only been a few days, critics haven't delayed voicing their opinions. Seems like Mile End still has a few kinks to work out.
The Disappointing News: There may be a shortage of poutine offerings in the city, but it doesn't seem like Mile End hits the spot, either. A concerned Chowhounder reported on behalf of his other half: "My wife went earlier today and was underwhelmed sadly. Hopefully it's opening day jitters. Per her quick review:'The sauce on the poutine was creamy and the curds were hard ... the sandwiches are tiny and pricey.'" Another Chowhounder confirmed the upsetting small portions - "Sandwiches are tiny but on the other hand are half of what you would pay for at katz's. They could benefit from more curing and smoking too" - and lack of poutine mastery. "Poutine, seemed like deconstructed version instead of the real thing. more gravy and more cheese curds please! gravy could be hotter too, my curds didn't melt." [Chowhound]
The Smoked Meat Sandwich Letdown News: Apart from poutine, this is the most hyped-up item on the menu. Yelpers weigh in on how Montreal-style smoked meat performs. Apparently, some seem to know more about the meat preparation than Bernamoff does: "I take a smoked meat sandwich, a regular poutine and a black cherry cola. The sandwich is small to begin with and for $8 you think they could throw in a pickle on the side. However, the texture is on point. It is hand carved as tradition dictates and it is deliciously tender and juicy. There is a sufficient amount of spice and smoke present in the meat but it might have benefited from a longer curing period as it was lacking a certain punchy bite." Can Bernamoff benefit from some slicing advice? "The meat was good not great. A lot of that has to do with the slicing. Pieces where too thick and tended to fall out of the sandwich." A Foursquare user concurs. [Yelp; FSQ]]
The Condiment Assessment: Or perhaps he should focus on the even less successful mustard: "Their homemade mustard was AWFUL. Very coarse (almost like chomping on seeds) with little flavor. A true Viande Fume (smoked meat sandwich) goes best with a basic yellow mustard." Maybe basic yellow mustard is the way to go, but another Yelper would rather have spicy brown mustard - "The sandwich just wasn't the same because of this." Of course, Bernamoff can't make everyone happy. [Yelp]
The Admitted Shill: Bernamoff and his wife may have been this wedding planner's clients (hence the lack of criticism), but for a first-timer (and for many of us, that's the case), she's impressed: "The small, but atmospheric restaurant seats about 26 and serves absolutely some of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten including a smoked salami sandwich, fabulous turkey on the most amazing rye bread and a Montreal style bagel with lox and cream cheese. For those of you don’t know (which means me, until we went to the restaurant) a Montreal style bagel is baked in a wood, coal burning oven? And it’s amazing. The final item I have to write about are the frites poutin? which in Brooklynese would be called Disco Fries- gravy (veggie or meat), fries and glorious cheese." [Always a Blogsmaid]
The Ecstatic News: This report comes from another friend of the owner, Save the Deli's David Sax: "Take the beef salami he cures and smokes himself, slice it thin, and grill it between two halves of an onion bun?with mustard. No mustard is ten cents extra?just like Wilensky’s. It’s hot and crisp, and the homemade salami just seems to crackle with each bite. Really perfect...Poutine: Half my party came for the poutine. Three were vegetarians, and the poutine with mushroom gravy, fresh cut fries, and cheese curds, was actually better than the one made from a chicken/veal stock. Both required ordering a second and even third round of...The meat was glorious: a fatty debauchery with flavor in every ounce of its fibre. Don’t compare it to Schwartz’s or Abie’s or anything else. Don’t compare to Katz’s or Carnegie or Empire National pastrami. This is something unique, which you’ll only find at Mile End, and it’s worth a taste, if not your outright devotion...What Noah and Rachel have done at Mile End is take a first step toward a new future for Jewish deli in New York." [Save the Deli]
The Optimistic News: As any restaurant-goer knows, an experience can be tarred by a rude staff, so although the food may not be perfect yet, at least clients
"appreciate the enthusiasm of the staff on hand here-i hope they will work out the kinks over time." [Chowhound]