In my rather dated Lonely Planet, it states that the Brick Lane Beigel Bake is "renowned round-the-clock bakery, turning out some of London's springiest, chewiest bagels, and attracting daytime and after-club crowds. It's a slice of real London, but not kosher (in the Jewish sense)".
I've also heard alot about the BLBB from friends who've been there.
Located on the edgy, funky, gritty, ecletic Brick Lane, the BLBB is unassuming. It if wasn't for the long queue, you would have no inkling that the BLBB is an institution in the area.
The bakery is narrow inside, and there's quite a production line of the men in the back who boil up the bagels, and the women out in the front making the bagels.
We went for the two most popular fillings. The first in the salt beef. Generous slabs of beef with lots of English hot mustard. The beef was moderately tender and didn't taste overly salty. I felt the hot mustard was just too hot for the beef. I've been told by beigel enthusiasts that there are beigels, and there are beigels. I don't know whether these beigels were top notch - they were slightly chewy and kinda bland in flavour (there wasn't much bready flavour).
The other filling we had was smoked salmon with cream cheese. I preferred this one. Reasonable amount of smoked salmon (not as generous as the salt beef) and a good spread of cream cheese.
It's a quick, cheap nosh. I don't know much about beigels, but they did seem nice and authentic.
BLBB is geared towards the takeaway trade. It has a narrow bench against the length of the shop where you can quickly eat your beigel. However, the bench is quite dirty. But I guess it's part of the experience of being in Brick Lane.
There are many other beigel bakeries in the area, so I'm not sure whether there are better ones or not. But for the price, it's definitely worth a try.
Brick Lane Beigel Bake
159 Brick Lane