Salt Beef Bagel at Beigel Bake, Brick Lane

25 May

LOCATION: Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB [map]

PRICE: £3. 70 (possibly)

BREAD: White bagel

FILLING: Salt beef, mustard, PICKLES (we’ll get to those shortly)

PROS: Ahhh Beigel Bake, you nostalgia arousing, late night vending, hangover soothing old friend, you…KISSES. Me and BB, we got history, see? I can’t begin to count the amount of times I’ve staggered over that threshold, drunk as a skunk. I’m in and out in a matter of minutes, clutching my beefy booze sponge. Efficient. I want to love it and hug it and squeeze it but mostly, I want to get it in my face. It’s best not to look directly at me while I’m doing that by the way, a bit like the way one shouldn’t look directly at the sun. That shit can get a little explicit. Beigel Bake is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for all your drunken needs. This of course means it’s also there for you when you’re hungover, which is how I found myself queuing up on Sunday afternoon, shuffling along, semi-catatonic, pawing at the wall for stability. I never order anything but the salt beef, which they cut into soft slabs of obscenely pink meat, gilded with glistening wibbly fat. Melty. There’s mustard of course and it’s proper gnarly – the kind that shoots up your nose and gives you a head rush; a bit like an Embassy Number One at 6am. In fact the mustard is one of my favourite things about Beigel Bake, largely because when you say that you would like some, they shout, “ONE WIV!” at the bagel assembly person down the front. He doesn’t respond; he just gets on with the spreading, the slicing, the wrapping, the twenty four seven churning…I’ve met only one person who lives in London and doesn’t like Beigel Bake. He’s American. Go figure. Over and out.

CONS: I always seem to forget (nothing to do with the fact I’m always inebriated when I visit) that pickles do not come as standard and need to be requested as an extra (for 50p). This means I ended up, yet again, with no pickles in my bagel. I was on the verge of calling Amnesty International. Why not offer them at least? Point. Lost.

SCORE: Nostalgia + booze = 7/10

24 Responses to “Salt Beef Bagel at Beigel Bake, Brick Lane”

  1. Gourmet Fetish Girl May 26, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Beigal Bake is one of my favourite places for a bagel. The supposed rival Carmelli bakes lovely bagels but are no comparison when it comes down to their sandwiches.

  2. Ian Goodrick May 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    It has become quite an tradition in our family to visit Beigel Bake on any evening trip to London. We have managed to freak out a few of our children’s friends, when after an evening trip to London ‘to see the lights’, we have taken them for a Beigel in Brick Lane. Another tradition is the chorus of sneezing as the mustard hits!

  3. William May 30, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Salt beef is way the better at W1 Deli or whatever it’s called on Blandford Street. Shit is ILL SON

    • londonreviewofsandwiches May 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Wicked, cheers Will. Must check that shiz out…

      • Jessep September 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

        If you haven’t eaten a Harry Morgans salt beef on rye with pickles you need to make this a really urgent priority.

      • londonreviewofsandwiches September 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

        Consider that priority made…

  4. Tom May 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    The smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels are excellent, but obviously there’s no way I’m leaving without a salt beef one so what I do is buy a smoked salmon and cream cheese one at the same time to eat later.

  5. The Grubworm May 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Is there anything better than a fleshy salty slab of tender beef – flopping out of the wee little bagels like some sort of obscene tongue – at 3am? No. There definitely isn’t. It’s rescued me on many an early morning tramping back from East to North because it seemed like a good idea at the time. This is one of those timeless joints where location, crowd and grub are all perfectly matched.

  6. Gene June 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    My apologies from America. That sandwich looks amazing! I fail to see how anybody would or could not like it. Beefy booze sponge, indeed!

    • Tony June 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Happy memories! They also do a great cream pineapple slice – oddly. The two bagel shops were owned by two brothers who fell out. One of them closed his shop for a few weeks and when he came to re-open it he found all his customers were now going next door. That’s why ones still vastly more popular than the other.

      • londonreviewofsandwiches June 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

        ooh interesting! Is that true or did you make it up? Also, cream pineapple slice sounds well random but I’ll take your word for it…

      • Tony June 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

        Actually the story is a little bit more juicy but I have forgotten it in the mists! Something about one brother being nicer than the other? But I’m thinking that why it’s 24hrs – because if it ever closes the other bagel shop will get back the lost customers. Next time you are in there ask the oldest member of staff for the full story.

  7. Windmill June 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    I shed a tear of sheer joy looking at this. I need to move to london.

  8. Jonesy June 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Errrrrrm, awkward… Make that 2 people in London… Had one 3 years ago on the invite of a friend who is a night worker. Tasted like old leather belt, you know, like the ones gentlemen’s barber shops sharpen their cut throat razors on… Bread was stodgy and felt like it sat in some forgotten corner of my stomach decompossing at the same rate as weapons grade nuclear plutonium. Great otherwise!

  9. Jonathan Bright (@brightywriting) September 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Gotta be honest I prefer the rival shop, though I admit I haven’t compared the two salt beef bagels recently, only smoked salmon+cream cheese – but the other shop have nicer bagels and more salmon. Like you I had a longstanding late night love affair with BBake, until I visited them sober, when I realised the proprietors are grumpy as hell all the time, don’t even attempt to smile, and I can be pretty bloody charming. In my experience the other shop’s much friendlier.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches September 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      Oooh I’ve never had the smoked salmon from either place, see…

      • Jonathan Bright (@brightywriting) September 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

        smoked salmon’s just smoked salmon really, I doubt either of them are forking out for some Taste the Difference fare but I do think the rivals put more in. Maybe I’m biased. In any case though you can’t get a smoked salmon anything for £1.60 anywhere else in the country let alone central london, cheapest lunch around IMO! Quite interested in the aforementioned backstory to the two shops

  10. thedalstonyears January 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm #


  11. Bertie Worton April 1, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    I love the ambience of the shop – it’s unique – don’t change it. I guess they still feed the homeless at a certain time during their early morning trading with a bagel and a cup of tea or coffee.

    This shop really is unique – its the one nearest to the Bethnal Green Road not the one a bit further along.

    I almost had the nerve to ask if they would cook me a salt beef joint to take home and I would let it be thought of as my own cooking as the last time i cooked one is was not up the the delicious standard that Hot Bagel Shop’s salt beef is. I will do that one day- probably be told to ‘sod’ off in a way that only they would say it. -Love the place – don’t ever, ever close down.

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