My poor jet-lagged stomach has lost all concept of day and meal times. We’ve eaten breakfast twice today already and now, I don’t know if we want lunch or dinner or if we even need to eat anything at all! But we put all that aside when we find Brick Lane Beigel Bake that’s serving up the best salt beef on rye (£3.70) in London. Blink and you’ll miss it if it weren’t for the queues of people, wonderful smell and ladies in the window slicing meat and whipping up sandwiches at a rate of knots.
We join the queue. Trays of freshly baked bagels are being ushered in from ovens out the back – trying to keep up with the hoards of hungry customers who’ve made this place an institution. We opt for a bagel and it comes packed with wedges of lovely pink meat – so salty that I can’t help but think how good this would be at 2am on the way home from the pub. It’s open 24 hours, so I’m sure they’re still doing a roaring trade at this hour of the morning. I was too late to ask for pickles, but the lathering of some seriously eye-watering hot English mustard snaps me out of my sleepy haze.
The rather grubby looking (actually that’s kind of the whole place) glass cabinet is stacked with baked sweets of all kinds; danishes, cheese cake, coconut slice and things I don’t even recognise. It’s overwhelming and my brain is in no state to be making such pastry-based decisions, so I ask the girl in front of me what she’s ordering – an Eccles cake (£1.60). And all she can tell me is, “it’s yummy” – that’s good enough for me. A round flaky pastry coated in sugar crystals and filled with with moist sultanas and currents.
Brick Lane Beigel Bake – 159 Brick Lane, Shoreditch E1 6SB, London – 020 7729 0616