Tag Archives: Mile End

Come back every Wednesday for another funny, informative video documenting my inept food adventures. NYC Brewery Tour explores the growing craft brewery scene in the city and visits all the unlikely spots that are brewing fresh, delicious beer.

There are lots of breweries to visit now in the city, but perhaps the most diverse is Threes Brewing out in Gowanus. It is a huge multi-use space where they often have live music, brew fantastic farmhouse beers, and have a rotating food pop-up. On this video, the food on offer was from smoked meat mavens Mile End. Currently, it’s Hill Country. Find out who it is before you go by clicking here.

Threes Brewing


Category: Beer, Video

My search for the best beer in New York continues….

THREES BREWING, 333 Douglass Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenue), Gowanus, Brooklyn Of all the breweries that have opened in New York over the last few years, none are quite like Threes. It’s smack in the heart of burgeoning Gowanus and seems to be perpetually packed with people.

Jamming at a Brewery

One of the tour companies I work for (Urban Oyster) had an annual team-building event and Threes was one of our stops. It made total sense since many of our tours involve beer and local breweries. It was a Sunday night and I was shocked to see Threes jammed with people. On a Sunday night. Good thing we had a reserved table in their party room.

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Category: Beer

For the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to eat every single item on Time Out New York’s annual 100 Best Dishes list. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100. Let the gluttony continue…

Time Out has done it again! This list, as good and exciting as the dishes are, is next to impossible to complete. This is the third list item that has not been available since the list was released in October. I understand if you’re just documenting the past, but the magazine challenged readers to eat their way through all 100. It’s like a bad reality show being staged for the contestants to fail and for drama to ensue.

Well, the only drama that ensued here is that we finally got to try Mile End’s dinner menu – even though the Whole Mishpucha is no longer offered. According to our waitress, the large format dish was one of the creations of a former chef who has not been at the restaurant since last year.

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My search for the best bagels in New York continues….

I just love finding excuses to write about Mile End. And as it turns out, I haven’t written about them (or eaten there) since February. I think we were overdue for a visit.

The real reason for my visit was because I was hungry and I was craving another smoked meat experience. But I added one extra thing to our usual order this time so that I could fit it into the theme of the blog. And that was their Bagel & Schmear.

Needless to say, the eggs, the lox, and the smoked meat were all fantastic. But I’m going to mainly talk about their bagel.

Now I’m not going to officially review this one for a number of reasons. First off, it’s not made on premises, but rather somewhere quite far away (out of the country, in fact). Secondly, there’s no choice of cream cheese or bagel toppings. And all that adds up to the final reason, these aren’t New York bagels at all. And nobody wants them to be. These are the other kind of bagel: Montreal bagels.

There’s endless debate about which version (NY or Montreal) is better and I’m not going to take sides here. The truth is they are quite different and it comes down to a matter of taste (and nurture, I’m sure). Montreal bagels are much smaller and denser than New York bagels. They’re almost always covered with seeds (sesame or poppy) and are boiled in honey water for a sweeter flavor.

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Category: Bagels

Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

It’s official. I looked through the tags for all my blog posts since I started Eat This last year. And my suspicions were correct: Mile End has been tagged more than any other restaurant on this blog (with Di Fara pizza a close second). Which means I’ve reviewed, praised, and brown-nosed Mile End more than any other place this year.

So I was incredibly pleased when I got Time Out’s list and saw a sandwich from the Montreal-influenced Brooklyn diner included.  I may have lost oodles of respect for the publication if they hadn’t. But I was a little surprised to discover it wasn’t their phenomenal smoked meat sandwich, but rather the less-talked about Ruth Wilensky that made the cut.

The first time I had the sandwich (many months ago) I asked the question I imagine most people ponder: “Who’s Ruth Wilensky?” Rae Cohen (one of the owners of Mile End) explained to me that Ruth Wilensky (now 91 years old) is a deli personality and owner of Wilensky’s Light Lunch in Montreal. The sandwich is inspired by the Wilensky Special which is a pressed sandwich of grilled bologna and salami with a helping of mustard. The mustard is so integral to the sandwich that Wilensky won’t make it without and Mile End charges a nickel if you order the sandwich sans the condiment.

Biting into the warm sandwich, I experienced that first joy all over again. The roll (called a pletzel) is studded with bits of charred onions not unlike an onion bagel. Here, they forego the bologna, but to make up for it, Noah Bernamoff (chef and co-owner) makes the beef salami in house and uses all the finest local ingredients. Those ingredients make for a nostalgic sandwich (even if you’ve never tasted Wilensky’s original). It makes me think of a really great crispy hot dog wrapped in a perfectly tender onion bun.

Clearly, I love all the food (and the ambiance and service) that Mile End produces. The Ruth Wilensky may not be my favorite (I prefer both the smoked meat sandwich and the smoked salmon Beauty), but there’s no question that this is a scrumptious throwback to some great comfort food with all the right ingredients. I could go on and on about it, but I think I’ll save it for another Mile End post.

Would Mile End’s Ruth Wilensky make my Top 100 of the year? If I could put all their menu items on my list I would, but since other things here reign supreme I give this an 8 out of 10. It‘s still a delicious option, but I only have room for so much at each visit.

MILE END
97A Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street)
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 852-7510
mileendbrooklyn.com

If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.

5. TOMATO COURSE at THE KITCHEN AT BROOKLYN FARE

You can’t get this amazing tomato dish without making a reservation well in advance, paying the $135, and sitting through the fantastic eight-course meal at Brooklyn Fare (which is a kitchen attached to a high end grocery store). So in many ways, the entire meal should be on my Top 100. And it’s a spectacular meal, but early in the dinner something happened that really stood out from the rest of the food.

On the “menu” it’s labeled as the tomato course and we watched as the sous chefs all helped Chef César Ramirez compose the six-part dish that featured tomatoes every possible way you can imagine. Even the ways you can’t imagine, including my favorite: the tomato marshmallow. Each component was explosive with flavor. And you kept finding more components to the components, like the little gazpacho underneath the white tomato mousse. And of course, as almost an afterthought (or palate cleanser), we got a scoop of some sweet, spicy tomato sorbet. It was fantastic.

And it really stole the show that made the rest of the meal pale in comparison. And the rest of the meal was phenomenal. Explain that. Price: Available seasonally with the $135 prix-fixe

KITCHEN AT BROOKLYN FARE
212 Schermerhorn Street (between Hoyt Street and Bond Street)
Downtown Brooklyn
(718) 243-0050
brooklynfare.com

4. SMOKED MEAT SANDWICH at MILE END

Oh boy, Mile End! This is one of my favorite new restaurants in the city. The owners, Noah Bernamoff and his wife Rachel Cohen are both savvy business people, innovative foodies, and an important addition to the neighborhoods near Boerum Hill.

Mile End is the first Montreal style deli in the city and it’s much more modern and culinary focused than our typical New York delicatessens. And it’s the place I first discovered the Smoked Meat Sandwich. Smoked meat is very similar to what we think of as pastrami, but the seasonings are more aggressive (clove, fennel seed, and paprika). And unlike most delis in the city (Katz’s being the exception), the briskets are sliced to order so they break down for as long as possible in the steamer. That ensures perfect tenderness and meatiness. These are no cold cuts.

The sandwich has so much flavor and literally falls apart in your mouth. The small layer of fat is soft and not greasy or overwhelming at all. And the smoke and spices really light up your taste buds. It reminds me of both Jewish pastrami and Southern smoked brisket. Two of my favorite things in the world.

And unlike most of the corned beef/pastrami sandwiches in this city, this baby is more manageable and you can actually finish one all by yourself. And trust me, there’s no better feeling. Price: $9

MILE END
97A Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street)
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 852-7510
mileendbrooklyn.com

3. KUMAMOTO TASTING at LE BERNARDIN

I was blessed to be invited to one of the most famous, well-respected restaurants in the city by a dear friend. Her boss had bought her an all-expense paid dinner to Le Bernardin. If you live in New York, you know that this seafood restaurant is one of the few NY Times four star restaurants, along with perfect scores in Zagat, and lots of respect from the Michelin people.

This dining experience is as good as it gets. And of course, it’s ridiculously expensive. And I’d like to say that the best part of the experience was that I didn’t have to reach for my wallet, but the truth is, the food was phenomenal.

One of the stand-outs that I will never forget was a bit unexpected. It was simply labeled kumamoto, which referred to a “progressive tasting of kumamoto oyster ‘en gelee’, from light and refreshing to complex and spicy.” I absolutely love oysters, but I find it hard to tell a kumamoto at one restaurant from that at another. So unless you do something special to it, it’s all about the freshness (which I always hope is the highest possible).

Well, celebrity chef Eric Ripert doesn’t just get the freshest, sweetest kumamotos possible, but he adds an extra flavor component to each one. There were eight raw oysters and each one had a special flavored gelee to bring out the natural flavors of the shellfish. I find flavored gelee one of the most unique and exciting additions to any meal. And the fact that they were all so unusual and sat above a pearly white oyster made my night.

The tasting started with a light green apple gelee that was tart and fruity and played off the briny richness of the oyster itself. Six oysters later the tasting ended with kimchi gelee that had a nice smoky, spicy quality that contrasted the natural flavors of the kumo. In between, we got to try everything from shiso gelee to dashi gelee.  It was a beautifully constructed start to an immaculate evening of feasting.

The only downside to this dish is I may never get to taste it again. And I’m not referring to the fact that Le Bernardin changes the menu every so often, I mean I can’t afford this stuff on my own!

LE BERNARDIN
155 West 51st Street (between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue)
Inside the Equitable Building
Midtown West
(212) 554-1515
le-bernardin.com

2. YUBA AND UNI YOSHINO-STYLE at KYO YA

Let me just say up front that I love Japanese food. Which is weird because the one really bad food experience I remember from childhood was eating at the casual Japan restaurant at EPCOT. There was some brewed flavor (soy perhaps?) in their soup that really turned me off to Japanese cuisine for many years.

Well, I’m glad I found it again. I love the clean, delicate, raw flavors. Sushi, tempura, ramen, yakitori, wasabi. You name it; I’ll eat it.

Since I love Japanese food, I was so excited to try Kyo Ya in the East Village. It’s a little hideaway below 7th Street and it opens up into a relaxed setting that feels both casual and fancy at the same time. The staff was welcoming and happy and just made us feel at home. I was ready to order everything on their menu and give them all my money. But since I need to pay my rent, I decided to be a little discerning.

I would have probably glossed over the Yuba and Uni Yoshino-style if Time Out hadn’t urged me to try it. I had never had anything like this before in my life, but after my first bite, I hoped I would have it again and again.

Yuba means tofu skin and uni is sea urchin. I’m not a huge fan of tofu, but I don’t mind it if it’s in a flavorful dish. The first time I tasted sea urchin was many years ago at a sushi restaurant in Pittsburgh. At the time, I remember it being the most disgusting thing I had ever put in my mouth.

Well, times have changed and either now I like disgusting things in my mouth (no comments, please) or this was a whole other level of sea urchin. It was so fresh and the texture was both creamy and chewy. The tofu skin was like cold wide noodles with a milky flavor and firm bite. All this was served cold in a clear broth with black seaweed and wasabi for a little texture and heat, respectively.

The sweet and briny flavors made me yearn to be both a sea creature and a vegetarian. Or a vegetarian sea creature. Price: $12

KYO YA
94 East 7th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)
East Village
(212) 982-4140

1. RICOTTA GNOCCHI at UNION SQUARE CAFE

Here’s one of those dishes I discovered from my Time Out journey that was just heavenly. If I discovered nothing else on the list that was worthwhile, this would have been enough. And it easily became my favorite dish of the year.

The Ricotta Gnocchi at Union Square Cafe made me think of sleeping. I wanted to fall asleep right in the bowl. It would have been a mess and a bit of an embarrassment. But they were so light, delicious, pillowy (there’s the sleep again), and flavorful, that I just wanted to let them take over and let me dream. Dream about perfect food.

The little dumplings were served with a Meyer (Danny?) Lemon Butter and it was garnished with fresh herbs. And as light and tasty as the sauce was, I really don’t think it mattered what these were swimming in. They literally melt in your mouth and give way to a rich ricotta center that’s barely held together, yet there’s still that initial firmness. It’s just as much fun to pop them open with your teeth as it is to savor the flavor in your mouth.

Union Square Cafe is a bit on the pricey side (although they do offer cheaper, smaller portions of their pasta – the gnocchi included), but it is worth the splurge. The dishes are not overly complicated, yet the flavors are balanced and well-executed. Looking at the menu, it seems like you’ve had all this before (lasagna, roasted chicken, gnocchi). And you may have, but here you’ll have them cooked to perfection. Price: $15/$25

UNION SQUARE CAFE
21 East 16th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Union Square West)
Flatiron District
(212) 243-4020
unionsquarecafe.com

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