Friday, March 1, 2013

Bagel Cafe

There is a bagel joint pretty much across the street from us, and I went there several times last year after moving to Brooklyn, but eventually I gave up on it. It's incredibly inefficient (several times I had to wait fifteen or twenty minutes just to buy one bagel, uncut and un-toasted) and they weren't particularly friendly. It's not like there aren't a lot of bagel options around here, so I crossed that place off my list.

But Elizabeth still liked a couple of things from there, so one night in the fall I fixed myself something to eat at home and got her dinner there. I'll spare the details but we were at the emergency room for nine hours, racking up $4800 in charges before being told the obvious: food poisoning.

Suffice it to say, we have not and will not eat from there again, a decision that was reinforced a few weeks later when the place was shut down by the Department of Health. The verdict: food not being held at the proper temperature, evidence of live mice, live roaches present, food not protected from cross-contamination, and a whole bunch of other things.

A few days later the place reopened, and from what I can tell most of the crowds returned. (Maybe people aren't aware of the violations or maybe people just don't care.) But I had already changed my allegiance to a place called Bagel Cafe down on Atlantic. It's a longer walk by several blocks, but exercise is supposed to be healthy for you (healthier than live vermin and roaches, at any rate) so I don't mind. I've been there more than half a dozen times now and received good service each time, never spending more than five minutes inside the place.

Wanna take a look at the menu? (Well, some of the menu - it's huge, I'm not posting photos of all of it.)

I have yet to eat inside Bagel Cafe; if I do I will try one of their sandwiches. I always get food to go.

 A sample of some of the stuff they offer.

My favorite of their bagels is the garlic, although it smells stronger of garlic than it tastes.

The smoked whitefish salad is delicious. It's a little pricey at $18 per pound, but unlike a lot of other local places that have plenty of filler in their whitefish salads and spreads, this is almost exclusively the smoked fish. It's great on the garlic bagel.

When I get food for breakfast, I like the plain bagel with scallion cream cheese.

It doesn't matter if you ask them to go light on the cream cheese: you still get a massive amount. As long as you're prepared to scrape off the excess it's no big deal. (I scraped off what I didn't want into this small dish - I could smear three bagels with it.)

I usually get Elizabeth a plain bagel. (If she wants cream cheese, there is plenty extra, as I just showed.)

I like the potato salad. It's very common around here that potato salads are completely drenched in mayo, tasting like a container of mayo with indeterminate objects suspended within. This one is more reserved; you can definitely tell that you're eating potato.

The chicken salad, however, is the only item from Bagel Cafe that I did not enjoy. The chicken was rubbery and, unlike the potato salad, I felt there was too much mayo.

Bagel Cafe isn't cheap and there are several closer bagel joints to me, but I like their food, I really like their bagels, and as long as nobody in my house gets food poisoning from this place, it's worth the extra effort and cost.


Bekah said...

I'm jealous. The best bagel I've ever had was in Brooklyn. And here I sit in Washington. Sigh.

Vito Andollini said...

Uhhh don't you know that here, in the EAST coast (NY/NJ), our bagels ALWAYS come with an excess amount of cream cheese. That's standard for all good bagel joints, just use the wrapping to scrap what you wont eat. I liked H&H but Absolute Bagels is the best in NYC.

JustinM said...

I am aware that they usually come with an excess but I have yet to have it to this extreme.

Chico'sHotPotato said...

Decent chicken salad is a difficult find, I find most of them to be narsty.

Legit question: are there any garlicky things that DONT smell more like garlic then they taste? I love garlicky stuff and would love to find something that tastes as garlicky as it smells.

JustinM said...

Damn, great names today. First Don Corleone and now Chico.

Good question. On one hand you have the Lebanese/Armenian garlic sauces like Zankou, or my recent find of Damascus, that smell strongly of garlic and taste it, too. (The latter, being the most aggressive garlic item I have ever tasted, certainly provides a resounding yes to your question.)

The other thing that comes to mind right now is that I have had pizzas at many places that I have ordered with my standard garlic and basil and not seen or smelled the garlic when it arrived, only to find it was minced so finely that it was barely visible but the taste was very strong.

Diana said...

Hey, are you planning to try those new Lays chips at any point? I'd be interested in your review!

Anonymous said...

I actually been here twice. Shitty bagel place.