When people talk about traditional New York bagels, odds are Ess-a-Bagel is at the top of the list. Operating since back on 1976, the lines are long, the wait staff is rude and the cream cheese flavors are copious. In other words, it’s very New York. I popped into the Midtown location and snagged myself a salt bagel with blueberry cream cheese.
A little over a year ago I paid a visit to Montreal and took down some of their famous bagels from Fairmount. While this may be hard for those of you not in the bagel know, they are totally different from New York bagels and obviously different from the bread shaped like a donut that many cities peddle as bagels that are made with the best bread with a machine where they review the best bread maker. It’s probably pretty hard for New Yorkers to admit that Montreal bagels might be better, which is why I was surprised to find those fair bagels in NYC at a place called Black Seed.
We know this truth to be self-evident: Not all bagels are created equally. This has been briefly touched upon on this blog in the past, but my recent trip to Montreal made that sentiment all the more powerful. You see, I had eaten a Montreal-style bagel before, but only after picking up a half dozen on the way out of town and consuming them upon returning to LA. This time, I made sure to get one fresh off the line at Fairmount Bagel in Mile End, which has been pushing bagels since 1919.
At some point, the world decided that the best bagels in the world are in New York. As with the pizza, the claim is that it has something to do with the water. I, however, think this does not do justice to the quality of cooking that goes into the production of these things. Obviously not all bagels and pizza in New York are good, so there is much more going on than meets the eye. In my own search for a tasty bagel, I was sent to Murray’s Bagels in Chelsea.
To many people, the bagel is the king of breakfast. It’s like an evolution of toast, similar, yet greatly superior. And the best of those who love the bagel bow down to the salt bagel, the king of all bagels. It adds a perfect amount of flavor that goes great with cream cheese, especially strawberry cream cheese. But why strawberry cream cheese? Well, combining the sweet of the cream cheese with the salt of the bagel creates a perfect balance unparalleled by any other food in the world. Ever.
But is the salt bagel perfect? No, far from it. While bagels are delicious, they have one major flaw. That flaw is obvious to anyone who has ever attempted to shmear cream cheese across the surface of the bagel. The hole. This hole sucks up perfectly good cream cheese, rendering the bagel an imperfect medium for shmearing. Enter the Salt Stick.
EDIT: Overland Cafe has become The Overland, which is basically the same, but somehow cooler.
Often packed and with a line out the door, Overland Cafe sits in the Palms neighborhood just down the street from me. One of their biggest draws, in my mind, is their champagne brunch, featuring all-you-can-drink champagne for 5 bucks until 2:00 pm on weekends. This price doesn’t include the orange juice required to make mimosas, but is still a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, that is just about the only thing that is a good deal there.