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Food

American Deli Culture Is All The Rage In London

Beer and bagels may not sound like an obvious pairing. But for Joel Braham, co-founder of London eatery, The Good Egg, they’ve proved the perfect vehicle for bringing a flavor of US deli and restaurant culture to a London audience.

Each Monday until 13th August, The Good Egg’s Soho outlet will be serving up their home baked, chewy bagels stuffed with a different filling, each provided by one of a list of US of Canadian delis or restaurants.

The flavour fest was inspired by the passion Braham and co-founder, Alex Coppard, share for US deli culture. “We did a beer and bagel pop up at our Stoke Newington restaurant about a year ago,” says Braham. “There were six beers and six different fillings. Each filling was a twist on something from our menu like courgette and labneh or za’atar chicken. It was so popular, we thought we’d try it again in Soho, and it felt obvious to bring a recipe from a restaurant on the other side of the Atlantic that people may not ever get to try.”

Braham and Alex Coppard (co-founder of the restaurants, which serve up an Ashkenazi/Sephardi mash up menu at their two sites) were inspired by a recent tour of North American and Canadian delis and restaurants.

The eateries they visited ranged from iconic Ashkenazi-inspired fish emporium, Russ and Daughters; American/Japanese inspired Ivan Ramen and the Mediterranean mezze spot, Glasserie in New York; to Montreal’s Joe Beef and Philadelphia’s Rooster Soup Kitchen, one of the stable of Israeli-inspired eateries from Michael Solomonov.

Image by Kaminer

“I’m a huge fan of Michael Solomnov and his food,” says Braham. “Our Soho head chef, Rachel Karasik (who hails from Philadelphia) did a stage [chef apprenticeship] with him at his Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav, so they were happy to entertain us.”

Each American or Canadian restaurant created a signature topping. Russ and Daughters offered up their secret cream cheese and top notch salmon, which was paired with a strawberry and cucumber beer from Brick Brewery, which was selected by the London Craft Beer Festival and The Good Egg’s beer suppliers, the Bottle Shop. Bagels are baked in-house to the recipe of third co-founder of The Good Egg, Israeli, Oded Mizrachi.

Braham and Coppard have long been fans of US deli culture, and dreamed up The Good Egg over giant sandwiches in New York’s Katz’s Deli. “We sat for four hours drinking beers and working our way through our sandwiches and grazing,” recalls Braham. “Eating there felt an event, like in the Middle East. You’re not just eating to get by — it’s very Jewish. We wanted to bring that feeling back to the UK.”

Eight American and Canadian restaurants have been happy to share their recipes with The Good Egg.

Image by Kaminer

“After checking out who The Good Egg were and what they were all about, we were super excited to do a collaboration with them on a bagel. We also love beer here at Glasserie,” says Jeff Kouba, whose Jerusalem mixed grill bagel filling combined Baharat spiced chicken thighs, with amba, zhug, caramelised onions and a shmear of zhug cream cheese.

John Nicolo, GM of Rooster Soup Co, shared a mushroom Philly cheese steak bagel. “It was an incredible opportunity for our small restaurant to have an appearance across the pond with people who would not typically visit us or even know of us,” Nicolo says.

The bagel and beers series runs at The Good Egg Soho until 13th August.

Image by Kaminer

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