Customers here can order a variety of East End-meets-Jewish classics, including salt beef, chips, and gravy. The eating area is just a long thin counter facing the wall and stools, with a community salt shaker, bottle of ketchup, and bottle of malt vinegar—the best blending of cultures and tastes reflecting the setting and its history.
Tongue & Brisket is one of the few places left in London that still proudly cures its own salt beef in-house. Fat slices of the perfectly brined beef, accompanied with a swipe of spicy English mustard and a sour pickle, are a popular favorite. The reuben adds a much-appreciated crunch, moisture, and sour note of the sauerkraut and just a hint of tangy thousand island dressing to balance out the rich and tender salt beef and soft caraway rye on which it is served.
The owner, a Greek Cypriot man named Bambos Georgiou, immigrated to the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Georgiou began in the restaurant trade by working his way through well-known and now mostly closed Jewish delis, including Carols, Rabins, and Nosh Bar, then being hired to open up the iconic Brass Rail at Selfridges in the 1960s before opening up his own place, B&K Salt Beef Bar, in Edgware and carrying on to open three more centrally-located offerings, under the Tongue & Brisket moniker, now run by his grandsons.
A crisp latke doused in malt vinegar and served in a small white paper bag makes for the perfect takeaway street snack. The gefilte fish balls are cooked in a traditional Anglo-Jewish way by deep-frying rather than boiling and come with a brightly colored beetroot-based dipping sauce that tastes like Passover.
Know Before You Go
Tongue and Brisket is at the Oxford Street end of Wardour Street and can be reached easily from Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road and Soho.
Arrive before 11am to snag the breakfast special of salt beef and a latke on a bagel.
The place is extremely popular so be prepared to queue out the door.