I tried the brand new Jersey Shore food truck. It’s a smoky, sauce-soaked masterclass.
The ever-changing Jersey Shore food scene is about to taste in Canada. And it’s really very good.
Berg’s Smoked Meat & Poutine, a ghost kitchen in Asbury Park that makes Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, poutine, latkes and more, started serving from a food truck on Friday. And while there are plenty of restaurants offering thick sandwiches and gravy fries, none do like Berg’s.
I had a feeling Berg was going to make a splash as soon as I heard he was opening. New Jersey people love their sandwiches, and Montreal’s smoked meat sandwich isn’t exactly easy to find in the Garden State. I got a glimpse of Berg just before opening day and all my suspicions were confirmed. It’s damn delicious.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I’m not a big fan of pastrami. Beefy blasphemy, I know. But it’s usually too salty and fatty for me. So when I saw Berg’s describe Montreal smoked beef as “the best-tasting cousin in pastrami,” I was a little nervous about not enjoying the sandwich.
It took a Canadian import, but I think I was converted.
Wow. Berg’s namesake sandwich is as good as advertised, and I think it’s better than a typical American pastrami sandwich. The brisket is dry-dried with 12 different spices for 14 days, oak-smoked for eight hours, steamed for three hours and then sliced by hand. The result is an incredibly flavorful, tender, and juicy cut of beef that makes a hell of a good sandwich.
Customers can have their chest lean, fat, or 50/50. I went with 50/50, and it was the perfect amount of fat. The smoked beef is present without being overwhelming, and the sandwich was a lot less salty than I expected. The mustard spice cut through the richness of the beef, and the rye bread was soft but robust. I also liked that the sandwich was big without being overwhelming. He didn’t collapse and didn’t take a whole team of people to eat.
While I’m not the biggest pastrami expert, I consider myself a Thanksgiving sandwich connoisseur. Whether it’s The Gobbler at Wawa, The Gobbler at Millburn Deli, or even just a homemade Thanksgiving sandwich with Bird Day leftovers, this is one of my absolute favorite dishes. So when I saw Berg’s making one, I felt compelled to give it a try.
And man, I’m glad I did. It was certainly unique from other iterations of the sandwich and in a great way. The roast turkey – from Hinck’s Turkey Farm to Manasquan! – was thick, smoky, and not at all dry (a common complaint for Thanksgiving). It’s not your typical turkey, which is fitting given that Berg’s draws inspiration from Canadian cuisine.
The cranberry aioli was smooth and creamy, but balanced enough not to overpower the sandwich. It was the addition of a latke that really completed the dish. Not only did this add a crunchy element to an otherwise sweet sandwich, the sweetness of the potato brightened up the entire flavor profile.
I’m pretty sure my NJ.com press card would have been revoked had I not ordered the Pork Roll Poutine. New Jersey may never settle the big Taylor / Pork Roll ham name debate, but we all agree it’s amazing – and Berg’s essentially puts it on the Canadian version of disco fries. Pretty crazy, eh?
Poutine, for the uninitiated, is Canada’s national dish: French fries dipped in beef sauce and topped with cheese curds. So yes, Canadian disco fries. Maybe even better than disco fries? I’m sorry, but the cheese curds are amazingly good. And yes, there are plenty of places in New Jersey that offer their version of poutine – Wurstbar in Jersey City has a tasty selection. But restaurants are often wrong about the sauce or the curd.
Berg understands all right. Like, scary right. After being impressed with the sandwiches, I was completely stunned by the poutine. Berg’s owner, Kevin Newberg, roasts beef bones and simmers them with vegetables for 12 hours to make the base of the sauce, a tedious and laborious process that is well worth it. The result is a deeply rich and meaty sauce – far from the dinner sauce, the New Jersey food gods forgive me.
The curds are fresh from a farm in upstate New York and are better than any curds I’ve had in previous Garden State poutines. They get melt-in-the-mouth and glorious with the heat of the gravy and the fries, making them truly Instagram-worthy cheeses. And the fries themselves are excellent, with a lovely starchy texture that becomes sweeter the more they soak in the sauce.
These components would honestly be sufficient. Next time I go to Berg, I’ll probably order the classic poutine. But adding the creamy yolk of an overly easy egg and the spiciness of the pork roll to the equation makes for a decadent treat that would make a hell of a breakfast, lunch, or midnight snack. Adding all of these flavors and textures together makes this one of the best poutines I have ever had.
There are dozens of great food trucks in New Jersey, but Berg’s is about to stand out in a crowded area. With sandwiches ranging from $ 13 to $ 14 and poutines ranging from $ 10 to $ 12, it’s not exactly cheap, but the quality and portion sizes are worth it.
The sandwiches are amazing and the poutine is sublime. A nap on the beach is good. Do you know which is better? Take a nap on the beach after an eating coma caused by smoked meat and poutine in Montreal.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a nap.
Delivery is available on the Berg site, https://www.bergssmokedmeat.com/, and https://bergs-smoked-meat.square.site/.
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