I WAS FOURTEEN IN 1966. That year, Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street opened the Brass Rail restaurant on the ground floor, with windows facing Orchard Street. Its speciality was then, and still is, salt beef. I recall visiting the place once or twice with my mother back in the 1960s. In those days, I did not particularly care for the taste of salt beef. For some reason, maybe the cost of the place, we did not frequent the Brass Rail.
Winding the clock forwards several decades, I now enjoy eating salt beef occasionally. Today, the 22nd of March 2023, we needed to go to Selfridges for something, and as we were there, I suggested that we ate at the Brass Rail. Unsurprisingly, the eatery has changed its appearance considerably since the 1960s, but it is still located in the same part of Selfridges as it was originally. Its tables are enclosed in an area lined banquettes upholstered with red fitted cushions. The service was brisk and attentive. We ordered Reuben sandwiches in rye bread. These are generously filled with warm salt beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, gherkin, and Russian dressing.
The Reuben was enjoyable, filling, and quite tasty. However, I felt that the taste of the salt beef was overpowered by that of the dressing and the other ingredients. Good though it is at the Brass Rail, I prefer eating the bagels crammed full of salt beef, which are served at the 24 hour Beigel Bake in Brick Lane. At half the price of the Brass Rail, but without the great service, they are more than twice as enjoyable.