1990s >> 1995 >> no-1096-december-1995

Obituary: Phil Rabin

Obituary: Phil Rabin

An organisation calling itself the Socialist Party of “Great Britain” might not be where you would expect to find the grand old man of traditional east European Jewish cuisine but for most of the sixty years since he first joined our old Hackney branch, Phil Rabin was an active participant in our advocacy of a new world-wide social system.

Before the Second World War – when he joined – Phil was a keen amateur boxer and his talents in this field were sometimes called upon to protect our outdoor platform from being attacked by fascists when certain of our speakers were speaking. At that time he worked as chief carver at Bloom’s Shoreditch restaurant and at the end of the war he played a key part in building up a chain of shops selling government surplus goods for recreational purposes trading as Millets, Victoria. That phase enabled him to set up his famous salt beef bar in Windmill Street, Piccadilly designed by his architect son. It became the focal point for figures from the sporting scene, the underworld and showbiz.

After Arthur Miller once brought in Marilyn Monroe for a snack she expressed her satisfaction by giving Phil a peck on the cheek, which he would never forget. Some of his comrades in Islington Branch like to think that the Beef King’s adoption of a vegetarian diet in his later years might well have assisted in his reaching the ripe old age of eighty-five although for those interested he would still provide the recipe for making authentic salt-beef. To wash it down only he could make the perfectly thirst-quenching glass of lemon-tea.

Phil was a widower for thirty years but gained much comfort from his son and daughter and their families. He was a keen fisherman and guided by Isaak Walton was a “Brother of the Angle” of whom it might be said, “This dish of meat is too good for any but anglers, or very honest men”. Years after he sold it the Windmill Street business still operated under the title, “Rabin’s Nosh Bar” but he was to spend several years in the catering trade in Portugal and South Africa where he had relatives, before settling down in his flat in Dalston.


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