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Salt Beef on Challah Roll from Delancey & Co., Goodge Street

2 Apr

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LOCATION: Delancey & Co., 34 Goodge St, London, W1T 2QL [map]

PRICE: £10.65

BREAD: Challah roll.

FILLING: A huge amount of salt beef. I went for the ‘bigger beef’. A smaller serving is available at £8.75, although that isn’t actually small, either. Also American mustard, and mixed pickles.

PROS: All the pros. The challah roll is just sweet enough, just sturdy enough, and just about big enough, so it struggles a little to accommodate all that glorious meat. There are rye options, but they do far too good a job of containing everything and I prefer to pick up the spillage with my mustard stained mitts like a feral. Also, it’s tastier and it’s SHINY. Oh and it’s made by a Jewish baker who bakes it only for them. Just get the challah, guys, okay?

Oh, the beef! So soft, with lovely edges of fat. Just like me. They make it themselves. This has to be the best salt beef in London right now. Easily. Sorry Selfridge’s, sorry Monty’s, sorry…actually Beigel Bake isn’t really about the quality of the salt beef, is it? Anyway, sorrys all round. Forget about all others. Eat Delancey dust, etc. etc.

The pickles are excellent, by the way. Did you think they wouldn’t be? Ha, fool!  They make those, of course, and you can get sweet n’ sour, salty or New Green (NYC half sours – seasonal). I get a mixture of sweet n’ sour and salty in my sandwich. Do that. Sometimes I get a slice of Swiss. That’s not really necessary.

CONS: Well, I say ‘cons’ but really I just need something to write here. The menu can be a little overwhelming at first, with so many options for ‘load ups’ but it’s not, once you get started going there every week. What? The smoked salmon is worth a try, too. I like it on a plain bagel with chive cream cheese schmear and seaweed. Bonus picture at the end.

I love Delancey and Co. so much I just did a little spontaneous rap about them. Here it is.

Delancey and Co, I am a ho, for yo,

Can’t spend enough of my dough, getting your beef into my face hole.

Yeah okay maybe not.

SCORE: 10/10

Delancey and co smoked salmon

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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

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

Selfridge’s Brass Rail Classic Salt Beef & Reuben

16 Jan

Two sandwiches for you today! See the lengths I will go to in order to find London’s Best Sandwich? Let’s deal with the Classic Salt Beef first:

LOCATION: Selfridge’s Brass Rail, on the ground floor at the back of the food hall.

PRICE£8.75 (for regular size; there are also half sandwiches and a large size available)

BREAD: Caraway-seeded rye.

FILLING: 200g of salt beef plus your choice of mustard (I chose American – mistake) and a pickle on the side if you want it (of course you do).

PROS: it may cost the bones of £9 but the amount of salt beef is very generous. 200g generous. They slice it and weigh it in front of you, see. I’d say this is the best salt beef I’ve tasted in London so far and the texture was fantastic – incredibly soft and juicy, it just melts in the mouth. Some of the pieces had fat on them which made me feel delirious with happiness.  The pickles are ace too – excellent crunch – the sort of crunch that they didn’t even have pre-pickle. Nice and sweet. Perfect. The caraway-seeded rye is dreamy and to be honest, I wouldn’t deviate from rye anyway when it comes to a salt beef ‘wich.

CONS: There’s a choice of mustard and I chose wrong because I panicked. While my brain was saying ‘get English, get English, that’s a lot of beef you need the kick’, I made the decision to get American. No. I wanted it to work but it doesn’t have the backbone. Also, £9 is still expensive.

SCORE: 6/10

LOCATION: Selfridge’s Brass Rail, on the ground floor at the back of the food hall.

PRICE£14.50

BREAD: A massive white sourdough bun of immense crustiness.

FILLING: Salt beef, sliced pickles, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and sauerkraut.

PROS: This is a right beast of a ‘wich and so it should be for FIFTEEN POUNDS. A very generous layer of that wobbly beef again though, and those perfect sweet pickles topped with two slices of Swiss. The sauerkraut and dressing smoosh together into a juicy layer of sharp/sweet mush which oozes out all over your hands, your chin, the table. Good stuff.

CONS: I know this is Selfridge’s and the sandwich is big but OUCH, that’s expensive. I also think the bread is wrong. I know it needs the structural integrity to hold up under all that filling but it’s just too crusty and it overwhelms the fillings, which frankly, takes some doing. I couldn’t believe my ears but I heard myself saying I preferred the simplicity of the Classic Salt Beef.

SCORE: 5/10