Beigel Bake is an institution. There was a magical quality to this small piece of East London, offering authentic, no-nonsense, affordable food. Beigel Bake’s been bustling away since Shoreditch was a ditch. As Vice Magazine lamented, “I watched Shoreditch go from magical hinterland to the abattoir of culture it is today”. In the meantime Beigel Bake’s been extraordinarily industrious, open 24/7, cranking out an impressive 7,000 bagels a day.
Honest, family-owned, working-class eateries should fuel a city. Despite London’s vibrancy, residents lament the ubiquitous sandwich chains and predatory fast-food corporations everywhere. Foodies fighting for freedom against these globalised monoliths suffer the burden of £4 loaves of bread.
But let’s be fair, Beigel Bake’s staff are outrageously rude. After my first visit to Beigel Bake, I attributed this to a stressful day, thinking nothing of it. I empathised that 24 hours in front of a perpetual line of Shoreditch hipsters could turn Mother Theresa into Robert Mugabe. The second time, the same older lady unnecessarily barked menacingly. The third I time waited patiently, and meekly pleaded: “Can I have four almond croissants please?”. The patron saint of impatience rolled her eyes so far back she toppled over. Every time, irrespective of customer’s behaviour, they are treated like a student telling their PE teacher they’ve forgotten their kit. I’d get my atonement by summoning the courage to ask for a bacon barm cake sarcastically, but I’m terrified of getting a hot cleaver hurled at me.
Regarding food, Beigel Bake’s salt beef bagel’s are the star of the show. The meat is thickly sliced, hot, juicy slabs with a mouthwatering depth of flavour. The generous fillings make queuing out onto Brick Lane worth it. The mustard packs a real punch, and the pickles are an absolute necessity. If the mustard brings too many tears to your eyes, the salmon and cream cheese is a reliable alternative. The bagels themselves vary from soft to chewy, and the mustard portion control fluctuates between a splodge and a deluge. It’s either a by-product of working so industrially or just spitefulness. On various occasions, the fillings were pelted toward the bag, rather than served on the bagel itself. However, this scatter-gun approach to bagel production was forgiven as the prices were so reasonable. It’s not all bagels; the giant croissants are the best possible way to spend 50p in Shoreditch.
Beigel Bake’s perpetual stream of jolly police officers, snap-happy Brick Lane tourists, irritated local alcoholics and cooler-than-thou shell suit-clad students, all eagerly anticipating their 30p doughnuts, is as far away as Great British Bake Off as possible – which isn’t a bad thing. To learn more about Beigel Bake, this charming short film provides a nostalgic bagel-focused memoir of the food and people of Shoreditch.
Beigel Bake Shoreditch
Atmosphere 10 Cost 10 Quality 8 Service 2