In a city where ‘cue reigns supreme, a new kind of smoked meat is making a mouthwatering debut. Marrying Jewish comfort food with a classic deli concept, Mile End Delicatessen is filling a food void most people didn’t even know existed — except Adam Grusin, that is.
From Brooklyn to Birmingham
The first Mile End Deli opened in 2010 in Brooklyn. Joel Tietolman, Mile End’s co-founder, was on a mission to offer the classic Jewish comfort food he grew up with during his childhood in the Mile End neighborhood of Montreal to his new neighborhood in New York. It didn’t take long for Joel’s restaurant concept, aptly named Mile End Deli, to find a loyal customer base. House-made bagels, which are soaked in honey and wood-fired, and an impressive selection of sandwiches, noshes and all-day breakfast are just some of the deli’s draws.
Soon after the original deli opened, another outpost opened in Manhattan followed by a third in Nashville. In 2018, Joel decided it was time to take Mile End further South — and that’s when Adam Grusin came into the picture.
One of Frank and Pardis Stitt’s protégés, Adam spent more than a decade working the Magic City’s rising food scene. And while French cuisine is his undeniable food forte, another cuisine seemed to be calling his name last year. “Traditional Jewish food,” Adam says, “has a lot in common with Southern comfort food.” If done right, it can warm the belly and the soul. The Jewish version of a pulled-pork sandwich might be smoked beef brisket stacked high on rye, or seared beef salami smothered in mustard and a fried egg. “It all boils down to one thing,” Adam says. “The food just has to be good.”
After Adam and his business partner Nick Pihakis of Pihakis Restaurant Group scoped out the deli scene in New York to see if there were any restaurants doing what he envisioned, they landed on Mile End. The restaurant’s model captured everything Adam wanted for Birmingham.
“We’ll be curing and smoking all our meats in house, making all our mustards and making all our dressings,” Adam says. “Making from scratch — it’s the way I was trained working with Frank for so long. It’s ingrained in me. It’s the way it should be done.”
Now open to the public, Mile End Deli is located in the heart of Birmingham’s Parkside District, right across the street from Railroad Park. Days before opening, the restaurant ushered in small crowds who were able to preview the menu, which has the perfect amount of traditional dishes as well as fun takes on the classics.
Some of what Mile End is most known for, like their freshly made bagels, potato latkes, pierogies and poutine — a signature Montreal dish of crispy French fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy — is featured on the Birmingham menu.
The ambiance of the space is upscale, but not pretentious. Adam says the goal was to achieve an old-world look within a new space. Tile floors and an ornate ceiling greet customers when they first enter the space. Meander to the back, however, and you’ll find a takeout area that offers fresh bagels and coffee to go.
“You can come in, get a bagel and a cup of coffee in the morning, and watch breads and bagels getting made right in front of you,” Adam says of the restaurant’s design.
Offering breakfast all-day and a full-bar setup at night, Mile End Deli has all the right ingredients to become a neighborhood favorite.
“That’s our plan,” he says. “We want to be a thoughtful restaurant. We’re putting a lot of passion into what we’re making, and I feel confident people will be able to taste that and experience that here.”
Mile End Deli is located at LIV Parkside, 1701, 1st Ave S Suite 135, Birmingham, AL 35233. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit mileenddeli.com.