Salt Beef at Gaby’s Deli, Charing Cross

9 Aug

LOCATION: 30 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0DE [map]

PRICE: £7.

BREAD: Rye.

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.

SCORE: 4/10

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14 Responses to “Salt Beef at Gaby’s Deli, Charing Cross”

  1. Chris Pople August 9, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Here’s an interesting thing I’ve discovered about salt beef. There are only two places in London where it’s consistently good. One sells the very cheapest salt beef in town – the Brick Lane Beigel Bake – and one the most expensive – the Brass Rail in Selfridge’s Food Hall. Everywhere else ranges from occasionally good to always bad.

    I have no idea why this should be the case. It makes no sense.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches August 9, 2013 at 8:45 am #

      Both of which are reviewed on this site. Wahey!

    • Andrew MacDonald August 9, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Check out the salt beef sandwich they do at the old fountain by old st station. Big, simple, but good. Although there’s never enough gherkin.

      • londonreviewofsandwiches August 9, 2013 at 8:58 am #

        Never enough gherkin! A terrible crime against the pickle lover. Thanks, I shall check it out.

  2. hollowlegs August 9, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    my housemate came home after a sandwich at Gaby’s and ranted “so right, they put the beef in the bread right, and then they wrapped it up in paper AND THEN FUCKING MICROWAVED IT.” He was livid, though admitted it was still good.

    I’m pretty convinced that there’s nothing much better than a Brick Lane salt beef bagel, LOADS of mustard, eaten straight away while on the street corner, at around 2am. I know you know this because you were there the last time it happened 😉

    • londonreviewofsandwiches August 9, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Ha ha! Bloody love the place. The way there’s always slightly too much mustard as well, shoots right up the honker! They didn’t microwave mine, well not that that I noticed anyway. I wasn’t on top form…

  3. Taylor August 9, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Best review you’ve written, but shame about the sandwich. We all know the hangover hunger….

  4. Frank H-S August 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    I always enjoyed Reubens on Baker St. But I think a good salt beef sandwich needs a lot of extras

  5. Nick August 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Brick Lane Beigel Bake never let’s you down. And a slab of cheesecake afterwards

  6. Helen August 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    I had a salt beef bagel from Gaby’s a few weeks ago, was looking forward to my first Gaby’s experience. The meat was pretty good but I was rather dismayed to see the bagel coming out of a Marks and Spencer bag 😦 Perhaps not quite the place it used to be.

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