The best sandwiches in London? In a word: yes. The City Pantry team catch up with Monty's founder Mark...
Bringing Jewish soul food to the streets of Hoxton, Monty’s Deli has become an East London institution since its making at Maltby Street Market back in 2012. We grabbed five minutes with founder Mark Ogus on what success tastes like, his favourite thing on the menu right now and the Chinese restaurant that everyone needs to try.
What was your inspiration for Monty's Deli?
I’ve always loved the Jewish delis of the US. The style of service and size of the portions... the fact that each place has its own secret recipes and stories... I felt like there was nothing in London that could compare to that experience, so I wanted to try to make that happen.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced with Monty's Deli?
One of the biggest challenges is getting people familiar with this kind of food. Not just salt beef, which is well-known, but all the other magnificent dishes that come from a Jewish deli. In the UK, people just think of a salt-beef bagel with dry salt beef and English mustard on a stodgy bagel at 2am for £3. We're trying to show that with the care, love and attention that we put into our food, you can taste the difference – and it's worth a little bit more money, too.
What is the best part of running Monty's Deli?
Meeting all the wonderful and interesting people that come through our door every day. Everybody seems to have an emotional connection to the food in some way, or they have a fun story connected to delis that they want to tell. When our American customers find us they are so relieved to be able to find a great Jewish deli in London, and that is always a great compliment for us.
What's your favourite thing on the menu?
At the moment, I’m loving the smoked turkey and the braised brisket sandwich served with slow-cooked onions and house mustard on toasted challah bread.
What's your favourite restaurant in London?
Murger Han on Eversholt Street - incredible X'ian province food, and the best Biang Biang noodles I've ever had.
If you could be mentored by any chef, who would it be?
Our Owen Barratt, of course.
Thank you to Mark for speaking to us for our Meet the Restaurant series. If you want to read more, you can check out our interview with the founder of Mexican sensation, Corazón.