Brick Lane Beigel Bake
159 Brick Lane
London E1 6SB
Brick Lane Beigel Bake is an institution – a window into the Brick Lane of 30 years ago. We first heard about this shop several years ago, and were looking forward to trying it when we were in London. We were not disappointed! It seems like nothing has changed a bit in the preceding decades, from the battered sign to the linoleum floors. The bagels, spelled in the UK as “beigels” also seem to have been unchanged for years and that’s a good thing. The entire store is literally stuffed with bagels (according to Wikipedia: 7,000 a day). Piled up behind the counter were scores and scores of fluffy bagels, and one of the staff’s buzzing members was completely dedicated to just cutting bagels (definitely a full-time job).
They certainly do a swift trade, and the prices are listed in a helpful by-the-dozen price chart. Beigel Bake is open 24 hours a day, and though there are sometimes lines, there were only a few people in front of us on an odd 7 PM weeknight. You can by a plain bagel for 50P (extra charge for a cut in the bagel – no joke), or get them filled with a variety of sweet and savory fillings for a little extra. Cream cheese was an obvious choice, but we were also happy to see peanut butter, not a common sight in Europe at all!
The heartiest fare are the Salt beef sandwiches (£3.70), cut freshly from a huge chunk of beef in the window, and placed on a split bagel. This seemed to be by far the most popular choice, and almost everyone walked away with a salt beef sandwich in a little paper sack. We opted for the slightly lighter salmon and cream cheese, plain cream cheese, as well as a bagel topped with peanut butter. The bagels were delicious and had a nice, light texture: soft but still chewy. This is definitely not a place to relax: you eat at the counter standing up or take your bagels to go. We decided to stand at the counter and take in the busy atmosphere, all the while marveling at how we managed to get a meal in London for under £6!