The essence of a city or a region can sometimes be distilled into a few food items. While other cities may copy or have their own versions of the food, the original association is the evocative one. For cheese steaks, it’s Philly; gumbo is N’awlins; chowder is New England. So, how far are you willing to go to get that taste?
The answer for patrons of a Montreal-styled deli in Brooklyn is about 400 miles. Montreal-native Noah Bernamoff and owner of Mile End Delicatessen gave up law school when his smoked meats was such a hit with his friends. The meat is a cured brisket that is similar to New York-styled pastrami but more moist and tender. Topped with his own mustard concoction and served on rye bread, it is being rhapsodized by Montreal expats as the closest thing to Schwartz’s (with much better service). In addition to the smoked meat, St. Viateur’s wood-fired baked bagels are available as well. 80 dozen bagels are picked up in Montreal on Friday night at midnight and driven to Brooklyn for the weekend rush. 25 dozen are FedEx-ed on Mondays for the rest of the week. The Montreal bagel is slightly sweeter, less dense and chewier than the typical New York bagel. Whether you are or become an aficionado, the bagels and the smoked meat goes fast. Also on the menu is the Quebec classic and heart-attack inducing poutine — french fries drenched in gravy and topped with cheese. To finish off the meal is a sweet cheese pastry called a cheese bagelaugh, served with an apple cashew compote and sour cream.
Word is spreading about this taste of Montreal in Brooklyn. Mile End has a twitter feed to keep their fans informed on the status and amount of food left. They usually run out of smoked meat at around 4 in the afternoon. They also take orders online for the St. Viateur bagels. So, if you’re missing Montreal or want to be part of the Montreal v. New York deli taste debate, make a trip to Mile End: Montreal in Brooklyn.