Mile End Deli Coming to Midtown

Mile End Deli Coming to Midtown by Ari KellenIf you visit some of the old Jewish delis that have feed hungry New Yorkers for generations, it’s easy to feel like they’re a dying breed.  The big ones are alive and well, but they’re also major tourist traps, and feel like the exception rather than the rule; Fine and Schapiro, Second Avenue Deli, Ben’s Best and Sarge’s are seldom the full, bustling spaces they once were.  Yet not all hope is lost, as in recent years a new generation of deli men and women have started to reclaim this food and open new businesses.  Places like Shelsky’s and Frankel’s have recently opened to major acclaim, yet one of the most prominent of New York’s new Jewish delis is Mile End.  Since it first opened in 2010, Mile End has been introducing Montreal-style Jewish deli food to New York.  While they started out in Boerum Hill, they have since opened more locations, both in NoHo and most recently Midtown, just around the corner from Grand Central.

Montreal Jewish deli food has a lot in common with its New York counterpart, and there’s still plenty of salami, rye bread, matzoh ball and salmon.  Yet there are some major differences: bagels are made slightly differently, but most noticeably pastrami is replaced with “smoked meat”, a type of smoked brisket made famous by Montreal institutions such as Schwartz’s.  The Midtown location will be offering Mile End classics such as smoked meat and poutine, but the menu will be modified for the new spot: hot dogs, reubens and most noticeably Canadian corn dogs, which aren’t available in the deli’s other locations.  

The deli will be open between 9 and 5 on weekends, then 7 to 9 on weekdays.  As a promotion for the new location, the new location will be offering bacon egg & cheese sandwiches with coffee for $5 through Labor Day every weekday before 9am.  

This third location of Mile End reveals that this Jewish deli is taking a much different route than its other counterparts.  Since first opening in Boerum Hill six years ago, Mile End has gained a reputation for great food; their bagels, lox, smoked meat and poutine have been hailed as some of the best that New York City has to offer.  In listings of the top Jewish delis around the city, Mile End has been consistently ranking alongside names like Katz’s and Carnegie.  But while most of the old New York institutions are content to have one location and wait for the customers to come to them, Mile End is the only one that’s been progressively building more locations.  Although three locations doesn’t feel like much, they have been steadily growing, much like other recent New York restaurants that are steadily gaining multiple locations around the city, such as Xi’an Famous Foods (Chinese) and Mighty Quinn’s (BBQ).  While these have ambitions to expand outside of New York (and Mighty Quinn’s already has), it’s clear that out-of-city expansion is the next step.  Where Mile End chooses to go next has yet to be seen.

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration


The State of the Mets

The State of the Mets by Ari KellenFor New Yorkers, it’s that time of the year once again when the Mets have their annual Food Drive.  The donations are being collected for the anti-poverty organization The River Fund New York.  Mets fans who drop off 10 or more nonperishable items before the team’s matchup with the Washington Nationals from July 7th through 9th will get a pair of tickets to another Citi Field game.  Donations can be dropped off from 5pm to 7:30pm all three days, and can include canned fruit and vegetables, peanut butter and cereal.  No homemade foods, dented cans or opened packages will be accepted.  

This upcoming series against the Nationals is going to be an important one for the Mets.  Even though the Mets’ rivalry with the Braves and Phillies is better-known, in recent seasons that has become eclipsed by a bitter rivalry with the Nats.  However, the Mets and Nats are currently the two highest-ranking teams in NL East.  The two teams have already squared off several times already this season, and while the Nats have won most of those games, that’s not to say the Mets can’t make a comeback.  The Mets have been doing well this season, but if they can’t start winning more games, they won’t make it to the playoffs.  

While the Mets aren’t likely to become NL East champions this season, there is a very good chance that they could make the wild card.  They’re currently competing against the Dodgers for the wild card, and the Dodgers are currently ahead by several wins (48-39 instead of 46-38).  The Dodgers have been winning most of their games, so that means the Mets need to start winning more games if they want to take the wild card from them.

While the Mets don’t traditionally have a rivalry with the Dodgers, they’re personally my least favorite team in baseball.  As a New Yorker, I’ve never liked Los Angeles, and the Dodgers, formerly the Brooklyn Dodgers, represent the worst kind of Los Angelite: the ex-New Yorker.  So the Mets beating the Dodgers is particularly important, and that can’t happen unless the Mets start winning more games.  And that can start with the Nationals.

from Ari Kellen | Sports

McCarren Park Pool Is Open!

McCarren Park Pool Is Open! By Ari KellenIt’s been getting pretty hot in New York the past few days.  But fear not: the McCarren Park Pool is back in business for 2016.  The pool, when originally opened in 1936 by Robert Moses, was one of the largest public pools in the world (three times the size of a standard Olympic pool). It has a capacity of 6,800 swimmers, although it’s now capped at 1,500.  The pool was part of a Works Progress Administration project, when Robert Moses opened one pool every week during the summer of 1936.  

In 1979, the city received funding to renovate the pools that Moses had opened more than 40 years later.  In 1983, the McCarren Park pool was closed for renovation, although the project was put on hold indefinitely.  Community members protested the pool’s renovation, claiming that it attracted undesirables and petty crime, and successfully prevented the renovation from happening.  The pool sat fenced up and unused until Mayor Bloomberg put in a bid for New York to host the 2012 Olympics, proposing to use the pool as a training facility for Olympic swimmers.  The proposal to renovate the pool didn’t come to fruition, but it was re-opened as an entertainment space in 2005.  During this time, “pool parties” were held every weekend in the summer time, which attracted hipsters with PBR, indie acts and slip-n-slides.  Nonetheless, it wasn’t opened as an actual pool, partially due to speculation that the peeling paint on the surface of the pool contained lead.  In 2008, nearly 30 years after funding started, a $50 million proposal to renovate the pool was approved, and it finally reopened in 2012.  

80 years after it was first opened, McCarren Park’s pool is open daily from 11-3 and 4-7.  It’s fun to visit, but there are still rules to bear in mind.  For one, you need a combination lock to hold your stuff, but lockers are small, so pack lightly.  The only items allowed on the pool deck are towels and sunscreen, and t-shirts have to be white.  Colors and patterns are strictly prohibited, partially because of potential gang violence and sports rivalries.  However, the best part is that the pool is free.  If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration