Tongue and Brisket Soho
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A second no-frills kosher-style deli specialising in freshly sliced meaty lunches.
A really excellent salt beef sarnie is a rare breed, and one that gets you change from a tenner is rarer still. This might explain why, come 1pm, the queue snakes out of Tongue & Brisket’s Soho branch. The menu is short but sweet; salt beef brisket, chicken schnitzel, roast beef or tongue on rye or in a box. ‘Have whatever you want. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lazy or lying,’ quipped the jolly old-timer behind the glass counter-cabinet. I’d edit that sentence after our visit – have whatever you like, as long as it’s the salt beef on rye.
Chunks of freshly carved deep pink brisket and ribbons of refreshing pickled cucumber came wedged between soft sliced rye. The meat, not overly lean or fatty, had the perfect salt balance. My request for extra mustard was more than met, sharp enough that it brought tears to my eyes. For a blindingly affordable £5.60 you get sharpness, sweetness, tang and crunch all wrapped in a wax paper parcel.
The rule of thumb (or perhaps tongue) here is if you can’t see it, don’t order it (with the exception of the mammoth house pickle – a snip at £1). The food at the deli counter is homemade and delicious; by contrast, the cooked-to-order chicken schnitzel had the air of cardboard about it and sauerkraut from a jar lacked flavour.
If it’s sunny, eschew the somewhat hostel-like dining space and take your lunch to St. Anne’s Church Gardens off Wardour Street. Pure salt beef bliss.