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Beigel Bake, Brick Lane

April 16, 2009

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Beigel Bake has been one of the most highly recommended places to go if you’re looking for good, honest, cheap eats. Whenever I passed by the stall after a long wander at Spitalfields Market, temptation would pull me towards the door – and then the long queues would turn me away. However, just a few days ago, I had motivation in the form of a visiting friend from Singapore.

There’s a competitor two stores ahead, but I don’t feel sorry for either one of them; both had hungry, queuing customers.

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The hot salt beef, advertised on their windows, was calling to me. I love beef in almost any form.

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The ladies at the counter inside were efficient. They had to be, in order to deal with the quick turnover. Inside, I could see two men working away at dough for massive rolls that I can’t remember the name for. I ordered a beigel with salt beef for myself, and one with cream cheese for my friend (this was not intended; we just didn’t have enough change between us for two beef beigels). The woman behind the counter asked if I wanted mustard. I said no. Thus I was handed a paper bag with a lovely, beefy treasure hidden inside.

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Large, juicy chunks of pink meat were crammed inside a soft, fluffy white roll with a hole. (It looked more like a roll with a hole than a bagel.) I’m a bit stingy, but I swear the price of this did not used to be £3.30. However, the portion was extremely generous.

As for how it tasted, my friend took one bite and said it tasted like luncheon meat. After that comment, I couldn’t help but agree with him. The texture of salt beef, however, combined with an encasement of a soft beigel, takes it out of the ‘luncheon meat sandwich’ category and into something else entirely. I wouldn’t make a special trip across London just for this, but I would be kidding myself if I said I wouldn’t go again.

Brick Lane Beigel Bake
159 Brick Lane, Brick Lane

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    April 16, 2009 9:08 pm

    £3.30 for a bagel? That’s outrageous! When I was growing up, we always used to stop off for bagels there at the end of the night, but I have to say, they were never the best bagels in London, even then, and I’m going back the best part of 25 years, I suppose.

    If you ever find yourself in the deeply unglamorous surroundings of Gants Hill, check out the bagels at the bakery by the bus stop on Woodford Avenue. Now they were good. (Thanks to the wonders of Google street view, I just spotted it’s got the really snappy name of ‘Hot Bagel Bakery’.) I don’t remember them doing salt beef though, although they had just about everything else, including some terrific chopped liver.

    There also used to be a place in Hatton Garden that did truly spectacular salt beef on rye sandwiches. I wonder if that’s still there?

  2. Moshe Feder permalink
    December 7, 2009 3:59 pm

    I love the Beigel Bake, both for its food and its hours. I haven’t been there in a while, but £3.30 is certainly a _lot_ more than I remember the salt beef bagel sandwich costing. Perhaps the BB is taking advantage of having become more of a tourist destination (i.e., less dependent on native local patronage) to raise their prices? That makes me wonder what the herring bagel, which I get more often, is now going for.

    I’m going to have to try those other bagel places John recommends, although I actually think the ones at the Beigel Bake are pretty good. They’re smaller and chewier than most bagels here in New York are these days, more like the bagels of my youth, and I appreciate that.

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