Slideshow: Mile End: Great Dinner Menu, But Skip the Smoked Meat

Matzo Ball Soup ($6.50)
Matzo Ball Soup ($6.50)
Despite claims of reinterpreted and lightened traditional Jewish fare, it's hard to see any reinterpretation in classic soups like the Matzo Ball Soup ($6.50) and Hot Borscht ($6), both of which are very good. The former comes with an intensely chicken-y broth with a single large, schmaltz-laden matzo ball, while the latter is well balanced with a pronounced spiciness provided by cabbage, kale, and plenty of black pepper.
Chopped Liver ($6.50)
Chopped Liver ($6.50)
Continuing the trend of well-executed-if-not-updated dishes was an excellent plate of Chopped Liver ($7). It's thankfully chunky and rustic and comes with a sweet onion relish and crumbled boiled eggs to be slathered onto the soft poppy seed Pletzel (you can order an extra side for $2.50) that's baked in their off-site commissary.
Brussels Sprouts ($6.50)
Brussels Sprouts ($6.50)
It primarily resembled charoset, the traditional Passover sweet-and-sour honey, fruit, and nut dish.
Kasha Varnishkes ($8/$14)
Kasha Varnishkes ($8/$14)
Mile End's version is enlivened by confit duck gizzards, crispy fried onions (not from a can), and plenty of chicken fat. Deliciously souped up.
Cholent ($18)
Cholent ($18)
Veal has a reputation for lightness and mild flavor—not so with their short ribs. Sticky, tender, and fatty, it's tough to finish a full single-rib portion, though toasted breadcrumbs add a nice textural contrast to the equally rich barley and beans. The sweetbread-stuffed kishke could have used more texture and bite.
Smoked Meat Sandwich ($9 for 7 ounces, $17 for 14 ounces)
Smoked Meat Sandwich ($9 for 7 ounces, $17 for 14 ounces)
It's not that the smoked beef brisket is badly cooked, per se. Indeed, it's supremely tender, perfectly moist, really fatty, and well-seasoned. The problem is with the smoking itself. Sooty and sour with an acrid, almost resinous undertone—as if the wood was either burning too hot or too dry. It's bearable in the poutine, but not so much in the Smoked Meat Sandwich where it becomes nearly overwhelming.