Is August a bad month for salt beef? I certainly hope so. For if the drop in form at two of London’s very best salt beef purveyors is not due to seasonal disruptions, it isn’t only my list of the top 5 salt beef sandwiches in London that will need to be overhauled. I’ll have to rehabilitate my good name among those who’ve acted on these recommendations. The distance between youngandfoodish and youngandfoolish can be as short as a rubbery strip of salt beef.
The first August disappointment occurred at the De Gustibus sandwich carvery at Borough Market. It’s true, I did draw attention to inconsistency while rating DG salt beef as the 5th best in London. But I’d also identified meat colour as a reliable indicator of quality: pink = good, grey = bad. On this summer Friday the warm briskets appeared to be deep pink to their very core yet the slices of salt beef were dry and chewy.
Even more disturbing was a recent rendering of the Nosh Bar‘s SB, which I’d rated best in London. On the 14th of August, the meat I had described as surrendering to the chew and melting in the mouth was tough. It was difficult to tear into it with my teeth without dislodging entire slices from the sandwich. I might dismiss this as an off day were it not for the troubling manner in which the meat was carved. Without bothering to steady the hunk of brisket with a fork, much less lift it out of its puddle of broth, the cutter gingerly worked his knife through the meat and held each slice aloft to let the broth drip back down into the tray. Also troubling, the crusty rye bread used in the past had been replaced by a squishy one.
I see no other alternative but to post a notice of cancellation from my top 5: If De Gustibus and Nosh Bar cannot bounce back from a rubbery August to a tender September they’ll be struck off the list.