Bringing Mile End to Brooklyn
New York, a city of delights for the most discriminating of foodies, has been conquered by a smoked meat sandwich that traces its roots back to Montreal. The sandwich in question, which made both the Village Voice’s Favorite Dishes list and New York magazine’s Best Sandwiches in New York list, can be found in a deli named after Mile End, one of Montreal’s most fabled neighbourhoods.
The restaurant’s proprietors, native New Yorker Rae Cohen, BA’06, and Montreal-born Noah Bernamoff, BA’05, met in a Jewish Studies class at McGill. After graduating, they relocated to Brooklyn, where Cohen began producing audio guides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while Bernamoff enrolled in law school. It was during this time that Bernamoff started curing and smoking brisket in their home and on their roof.
Bernamoff, unsatisfied with law studies, transformed his hobby into a profession. The couple opened a small 20-seat deli, despite the fact that neither had any restaurant experience or training.
Mile End’s menu is inspired by the foods Cohen and Bernamoff ate in Montreal at landmark institutions such as Schwartz’s, Wilensky’s and Beauty’s, as well as the food Bernamoff grew up eating at his grandmother’s table.
A love letter to good old-fashioned comfort food, menu options range from the traditional smoked meat to matzo ball soup to the quintessential bagel and schmear—served on a genuine Montreal bagel shipped from St. Viateur. The formula is working—the couple is looking to open a second location in Manhattan.
Alongside the Jewish deli foods, the uniquely Québécois comfort food of poutine has become extraordinarily popular, says Cohen. “Fries with gravy and cheese curds can never be bad.”
Emma Lanza, BA’04