A Casualty of Sandy, Smoked Meat Returns to Mile End Sandwich

Mile End (2)Kim Davis

Smoked meat returned to Mile End Sandwich’s menu last week, for the first time since Hurricane Sandy destroyed its Red Hook commissary. Today, the shop returned to its regular hours, and it’s also delivering again. But it’s not exactly business as usual.

Noah Bernamoff, an owner, said he’s been smoking the meat upstate, at his friend Josh Applestone’s celebrated butcher shop, Fleisher’s — as a result, the sandwich is a couple of dollars more expensive, to the chagrin of some customers.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Bernamoff began preparing the first 1,400 pounds of meat at the Kingston, N.Y. butcher shop. It had to be cured for 12 days, soaked for a day, re-rubbed with a spice mixture, and smoked for eight to 11 hours before it could be brought back to the Bond Street sandwich shop, where it’s steamed and sliced.

UntitledLauren Carol Smith Mile End Sandwich

The result of Mr. Bermanoff’s twice-weekly runs isn’t exactly like the brisket that went up against Katz’s in our sandwich smackdown: Mr. Bernamoff said he’s still adjusting to the barbecue-style smoker at Fleisher’s, and he had to cut a few corners as well. “I was working by myself and when you’re doing that much with meat, things take a long time by yourself,” he said. “There were a couple of steps I tried to simplify to help myself cut down on time.”

It’ll have to do for now: though the Red Hook commissary got power back Nov. 15, it won’t be fully operational for months. Mr. Bernamoff cited “a near endless list of things that need to be done,” including plumbing and other repairs: thanks to a grease back-up and three feet of flooding, only 20 percent of the kitchen equipment is currently working.

Volunteers from as far away as New Jersey and Westchester have lent a hand via the Red Hook Initiative, but Mr. Bernamoff said he didn’t want to seek more help via something like a Kickstarter campaign. “Personally, that’s not my jam,” he said. “I don’t like asking people for money out of the goodness of their heart.” Nor does he want to take out a small-business loan so soon after doing so to fund the store’s opening.

So he has raised the price of the smoked meat sandwich. The move has caused a couple of customers to complain, and Mr. Bernamoff has in turn taken to Twitter to vent. “It’s like, I’m breaking my back to keep this running despite how shitty our situation has been recently,” he told The Local, “and someone cares so much to sit down and write some Facebook message about a sandwich they had that was maybe $1 to $2 more expensive?”

“I’m not putting a gun to anyone’s head,” he went on. “If you don’t like the price of the smoked meat, don’t order it.”

The smoked meat sandwich, now $14 rather than $12, isn’t the only menu item that was affected by the loss of the commissary. Salami and lamb sausage are currently being made at the Meat Hook in Williamsburg, hot dogs are coming from Fleisher’s, and turkey and veal sausage have disappeared from the menu entirely. At Mile End’s Boerum Hill location, items like smoked duck are also off of the menu and dinner is only being served four days a week.

But on Bond Street, the sandwich shop has returned to opening at 9 a.m., meaning you can again start your day with a Montreal-style bagel with lox.