Forget your hipster bars and street art tours, single estate coffee and craft beer, upcycled furniture and bleeding edge fashions, the most compelling reason to visit Brick Lane is the Beigel Bake.
Open 24 hours and selling 3,000 beigels a day (as well as platzels, rye bread, chollah, cakes and impossibly retro custard slices), it’s been around since 1976 when brothers Asher and Sammy Cohen stopped working for another brother at the Beigel Shop two doors down, and branched out on their own.
(The Beigel Shop is still going, but, although older, doesn’t match the Beigel Bake. It also is the perpetrator of the almost blasphemous ‘rainbow beigel’.)
Forget those glorified bread rolls that you buy in the supermarket, eschew the polythene-wrapped ‘New York Bagel Co’ bagels, and get the real kosher deal – the dough balls boiled before baking to give a sweet, chewy dense circle with a crisp crust.
Join the queue snaking around the shop (its formica and stainless steel loveliness unchanged since 1976) and out the door, and get yourself a filled beigel or two (smoked salmon and cream cheese? Salt beef and pickle?), or a bagful of plain beigels to take home. (30p each – I generally get two dozen at a time and freeze two-thirds for later.)
The video below is from the BBC2 ’10×10′ series in 1992. The hairstyles and the fashions might have changed, but the shop (bar the fascia) is still gloriously the same.
The Beigel Bake is at 159 Brick Lane, Spitalfields and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week