I had my first taste of the salt beef sandwich at the Brass Rail in Selfridges more than 4 decades ago. I’ve never ever forgotten that first bite - and how wonderful I thought it tasted then. That first impression had always stayed with me ever since, and never changed through the years. I’ve come to regard the Brass Rail’s salt beef sandwich as the best in London, but often wondered if my palate was simply biased, being conditioned as such to the flavours & textures of this wonderful little culinary landmark’s offering.
I was back again at the Brass Rail a fortnight ago, after a nearly two-year absence - only to find the whole place changed. It looked more modern, somewhat more “international” (for want of a better word to describe it). You now order and pay to the cashier at the counter, and your order gets delivered to your table. And the Head Carver looked Mainland Chinese!
But what about the salt beef sandwich - well, I had a Brass Rail Reuben: salt beef with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, gherkin and Russian dressing on rye bread. One bite and I knew the Brass Rail was back - it was every bit as I remembered it through the years, ticking all the boxes in my taste memory of its salt beef sandwich. So good to know that some things never change
Oops, forgot to mention that I also had a chicken soup with matzo ball. No, it’s not as good as I’d expected. The Brass Rail’s wonderful salt beef sandwich had somewhat lulled me into believing that it can do no wrong where purveying non-kosher Jewish food is concerned.
Just stick to what it does best and you won’t be disappointed, I guess. The rest is a matter of discovering for oneself of what is good, and what is a miss.
Brass Rail - Salt Beef Bar, Selfridges & Co.
Ground Floor (Food Hall)
400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB
Tel: +44 20 7812 3400
Opening hours: 9.30am-10pm Mon-Sat,
12 noon-6pm Sun.