The hole truth

AFTER AN INTERESTING visit to the Bank of England’s museum, we headed north east to Brick Lane. Our destination was Beigel Bake at number 159. Not to be confused with its near neighbour, Beigel Shop, the far superior Beigel Bake, which is open 24 hours a day, was established in 1974. Although now a separate business from the Beigel Shop, the two places were originally the same business, as is recorded in an online article (
“Although widely seen as rivals, the two shops were originally owned by the same family. Brothers Asher and Sammy Cohen started off working for another brother at The Beigel Shop next door, but eventually branched out to 159 Brick Lane in 1976. When the brothers aren’t putting in a shift, Nathan Cohen, one of two sons can be seen overseeing the sale and production of the 2,000-3,000 beigels baked in-house every day.”
I am uncertain whether the brothers are still with us or whether Nathan still oversees the place. In any case, Beigel Bake is well worth a visit. We did so today, the 4th of April 2023.

A few weeks earlier, we ate salt beef (Reuben)sandwiches at Selfridge’s Brass Rail eatery, which I have described elsewhere ( We went to Brick Lane both because we were hungry and, also because we wanted to compare the salt beef on offer there with that we ate at Selfridges. After waiting in a long, but fast-moving queue, we were served our beigels, stuffed full of warm salt beef, some mustard, and slices of pickled gherkin.

Beigel Bake salt beef in a beigel (bagel)

As the Beigel Bake does not offer any seating, one has to eat the generously filled beigels elsewhere. At the Brass Rail, you can sit at a comfortable table, where a waiter brings the salt beef sandwich to you. The salt beef served at Beigel Bake is much tastier than that at the Brass Rail. Unlike the latter, Beigel Bake does not put sauerkraut and cheese into the sandwich. Without those ingredients, the salt beef tastes far superior to when they are present. In addition, the beigel suits the salt beef much better than the rather soft bread used at the Brass Rail. In brief, to my taste the Beigel Bake offering is far superior in all respects to that of the Brass Rail.

As mentioned, at the Brass Rail you can sit and eat your sandwich comfortably. However, currently the sandwich costs £14.95 to take-away (more if you eat-in). In contrast, a salt beef beigel with pickle and mustard, currently costs £6.00 at Beigel Bake. What you get at the Brass Rail is definitely not worth £8.95 more that at the less pretentious Beigel Bake, and it seemed like there was more beef in the latter’s offering than in the former.

A word of advice: do not bother with the nearby Beigel Shop even if there is a long queue at Beigel Bake – it is well worth the wait.

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