Salt. Beef. Two words close to the hearts of many a man. Words that may get too close to the heart without the required level of restraint in life but whilst my blood pressure readings still please the local GP, two components of life that I find hard to pass by. Whilst I’m no danger to a cow in a field (m’lud…). Once that bovine bounty has made it onto a menu, I find it hard to resist.
So where better to fall into during a few easy pints on a Saturday evening but the Bell & Brisket, currently popping up at the Dukes Head pub in Highgate Village. As a local(ish) resident, this pub has passed me by many a time. But when all you hear about is burger pop-up followed by burger pop-up, the lure of a pub re-vamp and a salt beef bagel was too good to miss.
The pub welcomes you with warm, low lit, comfort. Usually reserved for the hipsters of Hackney but a welcome addition to the Highgate drinking drag. The adventurous drinker is rewarded here with more taps than a bathroom showroom. Craft beers are the order of the day and those seeking the holy trinity of Fosters, Becks or Carlsberg will be left disappointed. But with an open mind and a sense of adventure, a beverage here can be found to suit any taste weather you want slight refreshment or to bid farewell to a few brain cells.
Alright then, I’ve teased you enough. Let’s bring on the beef! There’s a choice of six (sorry Veggie’s, I’m ignoring that section of the menu) served up with a mix of various things of a mustard and pickled nature. We plumped for The Lord Rupert (salt beef, pickled cabbage, gherkins and melted cheddar) on traditional Brick Lane bagel and The Viscount Vimchi (salt beef, kimchi and melted cheddar) on Black Rye, accompanied by a large helping of ‘hot’ fries – covered in cheese and horseradish, yes horseradish on chips! What a world we live in.
Starting on Lord Rupert, all the ingredients are generously heaped inside our bagel. Brick Lane bagels rarely disappoint and the salt beef here marries up superbly along with juicy cabbage and pickles all dissolving wonderfully together. The Viscount Kimichi offered similar bursts of flavour with my drinking companion declaring the rye bun surprisingly ‘light and bready’ (thanks, Shakespeare). I’ve built up the beef but we need to make another special mention to the fries. In a taste combination not shared since Peter Kaye first ingested bread with garlic, fries with cheese and horseradish is a taste sensation worthy of a souvenir t-shirts and commemorative pottery! We managed to savour these enough to put into words here, but in truth the whole experience was so good it barely touched the sides on its way down.
This could be a new ‘regular’ in the making. If greeting you with a smile and a bagel worthy of hero worship ( and chips that almost made grown men cry with happiness) weren’t enough, they also provide a dart board and the best ‘old skool’ selection of crisps sold this side of 1989.
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By Gavin Haynes of Shouting from the Cheap Seats