There are few food items that my husband Chris loves more than cured meats, and there are few cities I adore more than Montreal. My parents grew up there, so I spent many years eating across that city when I was a child. When Mile End Delicatessen opened in 2010, we were absolutely thrilled–Mile End’s specialties are Montreal Jewish deli staples, such as Smoked Meat Sandwiches. Chris was a huge fan of smoked meat when we visited Montreal with my parents years back, as the flavor & consistency of the meat is very similar to pastrami–it’s cured and smoked brisket. When my parents came to visit us in Brooklyn recently, this was the obvious choice for lunch.
We led off with a pair of polar opposite starters: Smoked Meat Poutine and Dandelion Greens Salad with Fava Beans, Ewephoria Cheese, Rye Breadcrumbs & Lemon Vinaigrette. By taking a French-Canadian classic, poutine, and adding the house staple, smoked meat, Mile End nailed the flavors here. They layered cheese curds and gravy with the fries, so you had ooey gooey bites from start to finish. The fries stayed remarkably crispy, even covered in gravy. The dandelion greens salad, by contrast, had incredibly bitter overtones–and a fun crunch from the breadcrumbs. It was aesthetically pleasing. Besides, who doesn’t want to try a salad with an ingredient named Ewephoria Cheese? The cheese itself didn’t stand out in flavor to me, but the name was cute.
- Smoked Meat Sandwich: Cured and Smoked Beef Brisket, Mustard on Rye
- The Ruth Willensky: Smoked Beef Salami, Mustard on Onion Roll
- Beef on Weck: Wagyu Roast Beef Au Jus, Horseradish, Caraway & Sea Salt Bun
These sandwiches have been listed in order of our preference. You really can’t go wrong with the smoked meat sandwich, especially if you love pastrami. I’m particular to the fattier slices of brisket, where my husband prefers the lean. The Ruth Willensky is a dark horse–their house made salami offers a bold, garlic laden punch. This is a simple sandwich, but the mustard and onion roll are a perfect accentuation to the meat. Lastly, the Beef on Weck was just okay. I’ve eaten these sandwiches in Buffalo on multiple occasions, so I certainly appreciate the flavors, but something was lacking here. It seemed like they were a little too reliant on the horseradish, rather than let the flavor of the roast beef shine. Next time, I’ll order this without the horseradish to see how the beef stands on its own in au jus.
At the end of our lunch, my dad commented that he truly felt as if he had gone home to Montreal for a moment. This statement is a testament to how well Mile End embodies the spirit of this amazing city just six hours to our north. We’ve had some pretty intense moments in life recently, which have reminded us how important family is. Being able to share such a culturally rich culinary adventure with my parents was great, because food truly is love.