Poutine and Borscht at Mile End in Brooklyn

I'd been wanting to try Mile End out since I moved to NY, and I'd also been wanting to try this poutine stuff, which I'd never heard of before moving up from the southern half of the country but had since seen on several menus.  Coming from French Canada, it's taken a while to migrate to the southern parts of the U.S.

Since Mile End not only served poutine but poutine with their renowned dry-cured, oak-smoked, steamed and hand-sliced brisket, another northern style food, I put it on the itinerary for my mother's handful of days in NYC in August 2010.

We'd already shared a NY bagel and cream cheese sandwich for breakfast the morning of this adventure, and while we had walked a mile or so that morning, neither of us was fully ready for this poutine and smoked meat lunch.

Poutine with Smoked Meat

But we found a way to power through.

Poutine consists of fries, cheese curds and gravy. Thanks, Canada, for your drunk ass hibernation food. In Mile End's case, you get "hand-cut frites, Silvery Moon Creamery cheddar curds with homemade mushroom gravy", which is all vegetarian- (if not heart-) friendly. Until, that is, you add their smoked meat: "all-natural Creekstone Farms brisket; dry-cured for 11 days; smoked over oak; steamed and hand-sliced," at which point it becomes downright vegetarian-hostile (heart-destroying).

My mother was wary about even trying it, but she relented. She always insists on thoroughly and honestly answering waitresses who ask how her food is, and she let the woman at Mile End know just how too salty she thought this was. The woman expressed her surprise as she explained that she used to live in Québec and that this poutine was way less salty than all the poutine up there. It was fucking salty, though, so I can only guess as to what the Québécoises are putting in their mouths.

Maybe my mother's and my taste buds weren't ready for it because cured meat never really got a foot hold in the warmer parts of the country. In the north, you get salty pastrami, cured brisket, and corned beef.

I think my tastebuds have adapted after living in the north for a year so that I now love ridiculously salty foods.

I, of course, wanted to learn all about these northern foods, and so I wanted to return to Mile End to try the borscht and the smoked meat sandwich, which I was sure would be better than the one from famous Katz's, not to mention $6 cheaper.

On another trip, I was just going to get borscht as I didn't want to blow my diet that day, but then the knishes looked so good.

Swiss chard, Potato, Parsnip Knish, sliced up and in a to-go box $7

Plus the sour cream for the borscht and the mustard for the knishes

That was certainly the best knish I've yet had. Swiss chard, for those of you who aren't familiar, is a relative of both beets and spinach, so that it's a leafy green that has that fresh rain watery taste that we love so much about beets (without the mess!).  The mustard was so good, with just the perfect amount of horseradish, that I ate it on just about everything I ate for the next week, including several times I just scooped some out with my finger. I want more.

Shitty picture of the excellent hot borscht ($6) in a take out cup, my apologies

I haven't had much borscht yet, but this stuff rocks. It's a very light, thin soup (though it'll of course thicken if you stir in much sour cream), with, in Mile End's incarnation beets*, cabbage, kale, and potatoes.

They serve a Sixpoint beer every day here for $7, as well as a tidy selection of bottled beers, wines and Stumptown coffee.

It's about a seven minute walk from the Brooklyn Trader Joe's too, so you can do a dinner -> grocery store trip, unless of course you don't like being full when you go grocery shopping!

*There are versions without beets.

FA Rating: FFF, Favorite
Price: $$
Mile End on Urbanspoon

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