Simplicity is an art form that has eluded many London restaurants. Long menus that take an hour to read, or unnecessarily over-complicated recipes that distract from the essential quality of the ingredients. This is not a problem at Bell and Brisket however, which eschews all complications and keeps everything nice and simple.
Specialising in salt beef sandwiches and bagels, the menu is simplicity itself. Inspired by classic Reuben sandwiches, you are required to choose no more than which type of cheese you'd like to accompany the salt beef. While this obviously isn't great news for vegetarians, it's perfect for the rest of us because focusing on a narrow menu has allowed the sandwiches to be developed to perfection.
A traditional Reuben would be salt beef, pickles, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing on rye bread, but Bell and Brisket have put their own British twist on this. We sampled the Lord Rupert which uses pickled cabbage in place of the sauerkraut and cheddar cheese in place of the swiss cheese; and the Blue Rupert which is identical except with Stilton in place of the cheddar. The sandwiches are stacked high with layers upon layers of beef providing a very satisfying bite between crisp dark rye bread. The melted cheese is an inspiration and - in our opinion - even better than the classic dressing. Served with kimchee-style spicy pickled vegetables and chips, it's a great sized meal and is even better when accompanied with a pint.
The second reason to come here is for the pickleback shots - a shot of whiskey chased down with a shot of pickle brine, which tastes a lot better than it sounds! The salty pickle juice cleanses the palate and compliments the sandwich perfectly. Be warned though, they're quite moreish and it's unlikely you will be able to stop after one.
The Bell and Brisket is a nomadic enterprise that pops up in various places all over the city, but their present home is at The Queens Head in the heart of Soho, a quirky back street pub. Having previously operated from Brewer Street market, they will again be taking their deli delights to the streets and will be popping up in East London for the duration of the Olympics. Look out for them, because you never know where they will pop up next.
The Queens Head, 15 Denman Street, W1