The Brass Rail: restaurant review | Jay Rayner

Jay has been coming to Selfridges’ salt beef bar all his life. Will the sandwiches be as good now there’s been a refit?

The Brass Rail, Selfridges, Oxford Street, London W1. Meal for two, including drinks and service, £30

They fixed it and it wasn’t broken. What they’ve done isn’t fatal, but it is silly. For years, for decades even, the Brass Rail inside Selfridges on Oxford Street, a place famed for its salt beef, had a straightforward system. You queued up to stand before the two meat cutters, and gave them your order: a half or whole sandwich of salt beef, tongue or pastrami. They barked questions at you. White or rye bread? Mustard? Pickle? You answered quickly. They speared pink lumps of steaming animal on to the chopping board, sliced it thick, threw it on the scales where the bread was already waiting, and moved you along. No order ever got a glimmer of approval. This was a serious business. Get on with it. Behind you would be a queue of people desperate for their salt-beef fix. They didn’t take kindly to being kept waiting.

The Reuben is vast, the size of a baby’s head: two layers of thick-cut salt beef top and bottom

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