A tiny meat counter in Boerum Hill introduces deliphiles to pastrami’s Canadian cousin.
(photo: Hannah Whitaker/nymag.com)
Montreal’s smattering of Jewish delicatessens—anchored by the legendary house of smoked meat, Schwartz’s—are astoundingly old-school in their approach to Yiddish food. Meats are cured in-house and sliced by hand; wall-mounted menus list only a few key sandwiches, steaks, and sides; and there’s nary a salad or unpickled vegetable in sight. At the heart of the tradition is Montreal-style smoked meat, a cured brisket that’s fattier than corned beef and moister than pastrami. The sandwich arrives Stateside in a few weeks, when Noah Bernamoff, a 27-year-old part-time Brooklyn Law School student and native Montrealer, expects to open Mile End (97A Hoyt St., nr. Atlantic Ave.; no phone yet), a nineteen-seat mini-delicatessen in Boerum Hill. Bernamoff, a self-taught cook with zero deli or restaurant experience, began experimenting with smoked meat in his Park Slope apartment earlier this year, curing it in his fridge then smoking it atop his roof in a barbecue. His friends loved the sandwiches so much that Bernamoff decided to take a hiatus from law school and open a restaurant. He uses prime-Angus-certified briskets from LaFrieda and Meat Innovations, which he cures for nine days in a dry rub of coarse salt, black pepper, tons of fresh garlic, and about a dozen different spices. He then smokes the brisket over oak in an electric smoker for eight to ten hours and steams it for four more, and slices and layers it atop Orwasher’s Jewish rye bread. The taste: more aggressively peppery than pastrami, and a little hotter thanks to the paprika in the dry rub. The sandwiches are significantly smaller than most of the meat towers found in New York delis, but they’re priced to match: between $7 and $8.