New Yorkers think they know their cured brisket, and what they usually have in mind is pastrami from places like the venerable Katz's. Mile End in Brooklyn gives brisket a smokier, spicier spin in an equally venerable tradition from the delis of Montreal.
Hounds familiar with the style are glad to see it in New York. "Mile End fires up those neurons in me; the meat was smoky, moist, and tender," says JackS. "Well cured and smoked. Tender and delicious," seconds StheJ. "Numerous ahhs were heard." But those new to Montreal smoked meat may be in for a surprise. Pastrami King (who wears his cured-meat allegiance on his every post) found it "very spicy, almost too spicy—not for the faint of heart." Steve R doesn't object to the spicing—in fact, he finds the meat very good—but stands by the local champs: "I'll stick to Katz's or Mill Basin Deli or 2nd Ave Deli."
Opened two months ago by a young Montreal transplant, Mile End glories in its hometown foodways. It presses house-cured salami in an onion roll in the Ruth Wilensky, named after the beloved owner of the landmark deli that invented this sandwich. (It's terrific, says guttergourmet, just as good as the smoked meat sandwich, which he loves.) On Saturdays you can get real Montreal bagels, smaller than the New York version and seeded with sesame or poppy, brought in fresh from the famous baker St-Viateur.
Mile End has drawn crowds and props since day one and before, but it's not a high-volume operation. The signature brisket is cured for more than a week in a spicy dry rub, then smoked over oak, and they don't make tons of it. So they tend to run out of meat at unpredictable times, which has exasperated some hounds. Those who really want to stay updated on the brisket supply can follow the Twitter feed.
Mile End [Boerum Hill]
97 Hoyt Street (near Atlantic Avenue), Brooklyn