A cold and blustery day whipping with rain was what confronted us as we strolled out from the shelter of M-Shed to once again head to our pilgrimage site, Cargo on Wapping Wharf. We’re slowly but surely making our way through each eatery on site with each one bringing a new pleasure into our lives. Of course, Cargo is no longer the hidden gem it once was and its popularity is well merited, as it is documented. We’d long heard rumours too about just how good the salt beef at The Pickled Brisket was, and I hadn’t had a decent ounce of the stuff in a long time and so we forced the door open against the wind and slipped into the unit.
We were greeted by one of the friendliest people I’ve met in Bristol, and I grew up around it. I’m sorry I never thought to ask your name, but your service is one we’ll remember. The menu is simple, a chalkboard with the variants on salt beef and other filled sandwiches listed. Who knew there could be so much stress caused by what sandwich to go for? As my eyes ran fast up and down the board, causing me near-motion sickness as the levity of my choice loomed closer. Eyes shut I chose the Bull Horn. Ladies and gentlemen, this was a magnificent beast of a sandwich (having of course, opted to add additional salt beef). Between the sourdough rye and piled high with beef, gherkins, sauerkraut, pickled red cabbage, blow torched until melted West Country cheddar (the ONLY cheddar) and a thick layer of mustard from the incredible Ginger Beard Preserves. It was a teetering stack of deliciousness held together by mere willpower so that anyone fortunate enough to consume one should be able to enjoy every flavour and component in a single bite.
Where to start with how it tasted? Everything was essentially perfect as a standalone and coming together as a sandwich. The bread was soft but a good structure and bake stopped it from falling apart under the glory of such a use, with the depth of rye coming through and the oh-so-noticeable twang from sourdough. The sauerkraut crunched and the acidity of both it and the pickled red cabbage cut through the sandwich ensuring each flavour had its moment to shine. The gherkins were sweet and took the edge off from the saltiness of other components and the cheese mellowed the flavours and provided a texture that otherwise would’ve been lacking and was reinforced with a nuttiness. Nearly all foods, come to think of it, will be complemented by mounds of cheddar. The mustard was essentially a Demi-God in the world of condiments blowing anything shop bought cleanly out of the water. An irreplaceable heat from English mustard with the flavours from a Pale Ale coming in fast and fresh behind only elevated the beef. Ah, the beef. Where this love affair starts and ends. So tender the merest glance sees it fall apart and juicy when bitten into as the weeks of curing demonstrate their worth as the perfectly pink beef is consumed. Saltiness and sweetness combined, moreish and umami at its finest. This beef is something so special, near transient I can recall it if it was sat in front of me now whilst I bash at the keys at my desk, salivating.
In short, this sandwich is nothing but a thing of beauty. This isn’t a place to stop at when passing. This is the thing to go somewhere for. Make the journey. I promise you, it’s worth it