LOCATION: 30 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0DE [map]
FILLING: Salt beef, mustard.
PROS: Gaby’s deli is famous. When threatened with closure they started a campaign to keep the place open. I supported it. They were obviously successful and so, well, here we are.
You’re going to get an idea of my experience immediately because I’m going to start by telling you how much I enjoyed the pickle. I mean, I’m a pickle lover, a pickle fiend, in fact, but still. The pickle wasn’t in the sandwich. It was a quid extra but also huge, crisp and perky. A fine example.
CONS: I am hungover. I’ve been sat in the hairdressers for 3 hours, having made it there I don’t know how. The hairdresser has taken pity on me, giving me first a Diet Coke, second an Alka Seltzer and third, a glass of prosecco. None of them touched the sides, not even the prosecco. I’ve been sat there for 3 torturous hours planning what I am going to eat that is going to save my ass and I decided that a Gaby’s salt beef sandwich was it.
As I watch the sandwich being made a pang of hunger comes over me, of the kind that can only be produced by a hangover. I check several times that the sandwich comes with mustard and a pickle. The man making my sandwich is starting to look pissed off. I decide it’s best to takeaway so I pay and, clutching sandwich, scuttle off to the bus.
The bus is hot, really hot. The air inside is a thick fug of human sweat and bad breath. I feel dizzy and nauseous. I can’t even think about eating the sandwich. Eating on the bus is disgusting, but I’m so ravenous I’d totally do it if I could. The sandwich sweats inside its bag. The salt beef suffers. When I get home I eat half of one half, but the poor beef has started to dry up at the edges because it’s been about an hour since the thing was made. Then it occurs to me that actually, it’s all pretty damn dry. I dunno, 45 minutes on the bus ride of hell isn’t going to do much for a sandwich, but should the meat really have been as dry as it was, even on the inside? I thought good salt beef was all about moist meat and even with the fat in there it was hard work in places.
There’s also just a really one note flavour profile; yes, you’d expect caraway to be prominent but there’s honestly nothing else to it, to the point where my boyfriend and I both remark on it.
I had really high expectations for this sandwich, which made it all the worse when it let me down. Has Gaby’s changed hands? Something must have happened. I refuse to believe that this was/IS the norm. The staff were pretty surly too, and I don’t think just because my hangover was in the room. I mean come on, it’s central London, I’m a pussy cat compared to some of the shite they must have to deal with.
A thoroughly disappointing salt beef experience. Funny thing, salt beef – the expectations are always so high, the taste of glory always so nearly within reach and then…meh. I’ve heard on the grapevine however that there’s a Canadian in town with a passion for salty b and word is he’s packing the goods. You can bet I’m all over that.
Watch this space.