Friday, 9 November 2007

Salt Beef Beigels, Brick Lane

Hello and welcome to my latest obsession - The Brick Lane Salt Beef Beigel. I feel the same way about these little beauties as I did when I first realised that the outwardly boring little pub at the end of my road actually turned out some of the best food in South West London - namely joy at the discovery, tinged with regret that it had taken me so long to make the effort to do so. God knows how many times I'd wasted the chance to try one whilst trooping up and down Brick Lane, dodging the hawkers for mediocre curry houses. A friend suggested the other day that if Boris Johnston added to his mayoral manifesto that every crappy curry house on Brick Lane had to by law post a sign on their front door reading "Just Go To Tayyabs", then even he'd vote for him.

Anyway, what's so special about salt beef? It's a fair question, and one I have asked myself until recently. It doesn't sound particularly appetising does it, salty beef. But try and imagine half a dozen generous slabs of juicy pink flesh, tasty rather than overly salty, bursting out of a georgeously soft fresh beigel (they churn them out at an incredible rate, so they will generally be very fresh), zinging with fiery English mustard and with a couple of gherkins on the side. There is a satisfying 'squeak' as you bite through the bread into the meat, from the unique texture of the preserved beef, and the fat in the meat oozes flavour.

Needless to say, there are numerous outlets in London purporting to sell 'salt beef sandwiches' that are actually just depressing mass-produced 'beef ham' and nothing like the real thing. Don't be fooled. In my (incredibly limited) experience, as well as Brick Lane the Brass Rail bar in Selfridge's Food Hall also does some great (if overpriced) salt beef, and I'm sure many people will have their own favourites.

Brick Lane is about 15 minutes walk from my workplace; the chances of me making it through the winter without a cardiac episode are diminishing rapidly. But damn it, the salt beef beigels are cheap, gorgeous and uniquely London. They are almost worth dying for.



Annemarie said...

There's a lot that's appealing from just the words 'salt' and 'beef' being paired together. But then, I'm a new yorker. :) If you ever feel like making the effort, I have a fantastic recipe for proper bagels which will blow just about anything else you find in the UK out of the water. Just saying, like.

Chris said...

Haha thanks Annemarie. I'm not sure how successful my home made bagels might be, but feel free to send over the recipe and you never know I might make the effort. Having said that though, have you tried the ones from Brick Lane? They really are very good.

Julia said...

I had my first Salt Beef Beigel on Saturday and am not joking, it almost brought tears to my eyes!
The flavour and texture was perfect. I only wish I bought two, rather than one.
Highly recommend it!

Chris said...

Glad to hear it Julia. Such a bargain too.

Samantha said...

How much are the Bagels? I may have to pop out on my lunch break.

Chris said...

From memory, about £2.40. Go for it!

big easy said...

i was visiting friends in london last week. stayed at columbia road - a walk away from brick lane. the first night i was there, i was taken to savour the salf beef beigels.

for 2.60 quid,
it's one of the best things on this planet. never to be missed.


Caroline said...

I went to art school at the end of brick lane and one semester ran out of money, my student loan had completely gone. I mamged to survive on brick lane bagels and I was more than happy to do so. I bought two a day, at that time they were 12 pence each and completely delicious. I remember when my next loan came through I still went but this time splashed out on the queen of bagels: smoke salmon and cream cheese, it was still only 99p!

Anonymous said...

New Yorkers are not uncommon in this Beigel shop. They vary in size and ethnic origin. What they all have in common is thay they all acknowledge that they have found beigel better than any to be found in New York or indeed anywhere else. Never a truer word.