Update: Delancey is now closed. I’m not sure when, but having walk by in May, I saw it shuttered up. Not surprising with the huge turnover in restaurants around Charlotte Street, but still sad. RIP Delancey, we hardly knew ye.
My original review from 2015:
Watch out, Mishkin’s, there is a new NYC-style deli player in town… and it goes by the name, Delancey & Co. Jewish bakeries are ever-present in Manhattan on the lower east side, so it was only a matter of time before the concept was brought to the ever-changing London food scene.
Okay, so it’s not that new, but it’s taken me some time to get around to writing up this article. Delancey opened around this time last year, but really caught on in the spring of 2015.
Mishkin’s has been around for some time and does a couple Jewish deli favourites, but really is more about the home-style comfort and the diner feel than it is about the lunch-counter or takeaway scene. Delancey consciously aims to bring that NYC lunch counter concept to London – seating around the perimeter on stools with counters leaving the deli serving area as the focus.
They start with breads from a traditional Jewish Deli (start off with the Rye, you heathens!) and then move on to the Irish, grass-fed beef or Scottish smoked salmon. You can also opt for British oak-smoked turkey if that tickles your fancy, but let’s be honest, it’s all about the salt beef here.
There are other bread options including marbled rye, challah roll, and plain, poppyseed or rye bagels. But like I said, on your first trip, it’s gotta be the thick-cut rye bread to start.
Then we move on to the salted beef. They use whole slabs of brisket that have been cured in the Kosher Jewish style. Salt beef is also known as corned beef because traditionally it was salted with huge rock salt, called “corns of salt”. The salt beef is bathed and simmered for hours so that it slices like butter under the knife.
They layer the beef on to the bread and pile it high – though it must be said not “NYC” levels. This is London after all and rents are high, but it’s a pretty generous helping of meat nonetheless. Then they add sauerkraut or ‘slaw, the Delancey special sauce, and swiss cheese.
Then something magical happens, a third sandwich artist appears as if from thin air with a blow torch and torch-toasts your sandwich, melting the cheese in gooey and delicious fashion. It seems this employee’s only job is to wield this torch of blazing glory. As quickly as she appears, she’s gone – and all that’s left is a deliciously toasty Delancey’s Reuben sandwich.
The classic Reuben will set you back £8.95 which is a bit on the steep side, but it will also more than fill you up. You can opt for the pared down versions of their sandwiches like the “Big Fish,” “Big Bird,” or “Big Beef” which run between £4.95 and £7.95.
One of those latter three with a whole pickle and a drink will set you back just under a tenner – not a bad deal at all, for a Charlotte Street area meal-deal. Delancey also offers a plethora of toppers from 25-50p to add. Things like capers, pickled red cabbage, jalapeño, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, wasabi tobiko, seaweed salad, mashed avocado and more.
Then in good Jewish deli style, Delancey also offers things like chicken noodle soup, matzo ball soup, potato salad, fish balls, and a selection of whole pickles. Overall it’s a great little deli for you to grab and go. Don’t expect to be able to sit across and stare woefully into your lover’s eyes over a salt beef sandwich here. It’s purely a counter or takeaway concept. Lunch is time and time is money in NYC, so the counters that line the front third of the store face the wall in a very get-down-to-business fashion.
Delancey is tucked into a little shopfront on Goodge Street just between Tottenham Court Road and Charlotte Street. Perhaps the most competitive strip of lunch joints that London has. They are competing though and doing well. I highly recommend a visit, but just remember, don’t overthink it – go for the traditional Delancey’s Reuben on your first visit. Then you can mix it up later on your return legs.
You can visit Delancey & Co. at 34 Goodge Street, W1T 2QL or check out their website here.