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Thread: California > Berkeley: Augie's Montreal Deli

  1. #1
    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    California > Berkeley: Augie's Montreal Deli

    Augie's Montreal Deli
    875 Potter St
    Berkeley CA 94710
    (510) 984-0283

    https://augiesmontrealdeli.com/

    This place opened up in mid-February 2018 and made a big splash in local media and among Canadian expats and Canadaphiles for bringing Montreal smoked meat to the SF Bay Area.

    What is Montreal smoked meat? Fans are quick to point out that it's not the same as pastrami, saying it's made using cured brisket whereas traditional pastrami is made using cured beef navel/plate. Well, if you're like me, you've eaten plenty of "pastrami" made from brisket and perhaps even made some in your backyard smoker. I think it's safe to say that if you were blindfolded and sampled Montreal smoked meat and pastrami, you'd say both were pastrami.

    OK, now that I've thoroughly stirred-up that hornet's nest...Augie's Montreal Deli is located in a commercial district just off busy I-580 in Berkeley. Mrs. TVWB and I shared the 8-ounce "L'Original" smoked meat sandwich on rye bread with pickles and a small container of slaw on the side. Yellow and spicy brown mustard are served at the table. There's also a 12-ounce version of this sandwich, as well as a turkey sandwich cured with the same seasonings (making it turkey pastrami!), several salads, a hot dog, and a bagel with cream cheese and lox. Smoked meat can also be had on a plate, as a combo (1/2 sandwich with one side), or by the pound to-go. The smoked meat tasted good, but the very coarse pepper/coriander crust was a bit too much for my taste.

    While the smoked meat is clearly the star of the show at Augie's, the poutine is a close runner-up. What is poutine, you ask? It's frites (french fries) smothered in brown gravy and topped with squeaky cheese curds. Now, I've had a few french fries in my day and I can tell you these were, without a doubt, some of the best I've ever had. They're triple-fried red potatoes that were really crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and stood up well to the gravy. This was my first poutine and I liked it very much, maybe even more than the smoked meat. I'd go back just for a bowl of frites and a bottle of ketchup, they were that good.

    At the time of our visit, beer was not available at Augie's (and I have it on good authority that beer is essential for enjoying poutine). We had a chance to talk to the owner, Lex Gopnik-Lewinski, and he says beer is coming soon, just waiting for final approval from the authorities. By the time you read this, you'll probably be able to enjoy a cold one with your meal.

    If you get a chance to talk to Lex, you should. He's a nice guy and very sincere about his new business and his attempt to provide quality food in generous portions at reasonable prices. He shared that he's got a co-packer in Redding, CA that's curing and smoking the brisket to his specifications and trucking it down to Berkeley by the hundreds of pounds. This allows him to get competitive volume prices on the meat and labor while avoiding the complicated permitting issues associated with smoking meat in an urban location.

    One of the few negatives about Augie's was parking. There's a popular climbing wall business across the street that co-opts much of the street parking. We had to circle the block once and park at the far end of the street and walk back to the restaurant...and this was on a Wednesday night at 7:00 PM. Lex is aware of the problem and hopes to resolve it soon.

    So to summarize, my verdict is: Visit Augie's Montreal Deli for the smoked meat, but stay for the poutine!

    Here are some photos...enjoy!


















  2. #2
    TVWBB Olympian ChuckO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Allingham View Post
    While the smoked meat is clearly the star of the show at Augie's, the poutine is a close runner-up. What is poutine, you ask? It's frites (french fries) smothered in brown gravy and topped with squeaky cheese curds. Now, I've had a few french fries in my day and I can tell you these were, without a doubt, some of the best I've ever had. They're triple-fried red potatoes that were really crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and stood up well to the gravy. This was my first poutine and I liked it very much, maybe even more than the smoked meat. I'd go back just for a bowl of frites and a bottle of ketchup, they were that good
    I rarely find myself in Berkeley, but should I ever do so, a bowl of Frites is on my to do list
    85 78

  3. #3
    TVWBB 1-Star Olympian Bob Correll's Avatar
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    Nice review Chris and some tasty looking calories.

    I would like to try poutine, but don't like cheese curds.
    So I'm thinking about a St Louis version using Provel, and sausage milk gravy.

  4. #4
    TVWBB Guru James N's Avatar
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    The sandwich & poutine look great... Thanks Chris.

  5. #5
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    Very nice ! I checked their website - good job he had his Habs jersey on. If he wore a Leafs jersey I would cry foul.
    18.5" WSM, Black Performer, Genesis CEP-310, Q-220, Jumbo Joe

  6. #6
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    Mmmm...poutine! When done right it's wonderful! One of the local restaurants here offers it with beef, mushrooms, or both.

    That smoked meat sandwich is no slouch, either.

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