looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage

Bagels

quite possibly the world's perfect food


The Great American Bagel

Terminal C, Cleveland Airport
5300 Riverside Dr,
Cleveland, OH 44135

They were out of plain bagels as we stopped briefly at Terminal C on our way back to Las Vegas, but I took the opportunity to sample a toasted sesame bagel. Extra points for the generous slathering of butter, which unfortunately rapidly soaked through the paper wrapping.

Grade: B-

Bagel Bagel

Russell Road,
Las Vegas,
NV

Three years in Las Vegas and only now have we discovered another bagel source. I guess we stopped looking after tracking down Bagels-n-more (see below). However, now we have found Bagel Bagel we can tell you that they are excellent, downgraded a notch only because the second time we went there, the bagels were just a bit over-done. I like a firm exterior but if I want crust I'll get a bagette.

Grade: A-

Wholly Bagels

BNZ Center,
1 Willis Street,
Wellington, New Zealand

Much has changed in Wellington since my last visit, not the least of which a new chain of bagel stores have opened - and they are very good! It's nice to see bagels making an appearance in amongst the plethora of coffee bars in this city. There are three stores in Wellington, but I only checked out the one in Willis Street. The bagels are very good, and they make good sandwiches and the coffee is excellent.

Grade: A

The Bagel Cafe

301 North Buffalo Drive,
Las Vegas,
NV 89145

This is a full on deli/restaurant, and if I were influenced by such things as the quality of chicken matzo ball soup, they would get an A. But I must be true to the bagels, alas. Their logo includes the motto, "Home of the Bigger Bagel" and unfortunately I must respond with the adage, "bigger is not necessarily better". This is against my better judgement, mind you, because the idea of a bagel bigger than my head actually appeals to me.

In other words, I'm not docking them points for size, but they're not getting any bonus points for it either. Overall they are pretty good bagels, but maybe a little too bready and not chewy enough. You could do a lot worse than picking up a dozen and having some chicken matzo-ball soup while you're there.

Grade: B+

Harry's Bagelmania

855 East Twain Ave,
Las Vegas,
NV 89109

These guys are hard to find, and when we finally went looking for them, we didn't have time to stop and sample the goodies that were on display. We were there strictly for the bagels, ma'am.

Unfortunately, their idea of a bakers dozen seems to be 11. Yup, we were missing 3 bagels when we got home, and only one of them was Lisa giving in to her cravings.

I'm sure this was a genuine mistake and not common practice, but they still lose points because, unfortunately, their bagels are not the best. A little too firm. Still better than Einstein's though.

Grade: C+

Sonoma Valley Bagels

Montgomery Village,
Santa Rosa,
CA

These were actually the first sub-species of bagel I ever decided to write about. I even bought one of their t-shirts because I liked the logo. This was many years ago. Since then, their logo has changed and possibly their bagels have, I woudn't be able to tell. I suspect they haven't changed much at all. They get an all-round good rating, with slight point deduction due to the kind of under-done feeling to the bagel, a bit doughy where one would expect fibrousness. Also, another half-point deduction because of an obvious manufacturing defect: I could see the join in the torus. More than just that, when I sliced one in halves, the join in the ring actually came apart, leaving me with one toasted ring and one toasted crescent. Not so good.

Grade: B

Bagels 'n More

E Tropicana Ave,
Las Vegas,
NV

Upon discovering that the bagels served at the Stage Deli in Caesar's Palace Forum Shops were of exceptional quality, we enquired as to their supplier. "Bagels-n-More", they told us. Later that week, while looking for the Guitar Center on Tropicana Ave, we drove right past Bagels-n-More, but were quick-witted enough to note its location for a return visit. Their egg-creams are not as good as those from the Stage Deli, but their bagels are the best yet from a Vegas source. Our freezer is full of them.

Grade: A

Einstein Bros Bagelry

7541 Lake Mead Blvd,
Las Vegas,
NV

After we moved to Vegas, it wasn't long before we craved bagels, and the mission to find a local bagel supplier was on. Our first choice was Einstein Bros - these are lighter and more bready than my ideal bagel, but much better than subsisting on faux-bagels from the local supermarket. Nice selection of sandwiches and beverages in their stores, and they have a good website too (click on the logo).

Grade: C-

New York Bagel Cafe

200 N Bowman,
West Little Rock,
AR 72211,
USA

These guys are easy to find, but it still took us about 4 trips to corporate headquarters in picturesque Little Rock, AR, before we finally got desperate enough to look in the yellow pages... Anyway, their bagels are as good as any I've had anywhere. They have a good range of sandwiches that they'll make up for you, and their espresso is pretty good.

My favourate so far (admittedly the only one, but it was excellent) is the Fifth Avenue: Ham, Smoked Turkey and Bacon with Swiss, Onion and Mayo.

Grade: B+

New York Bagel Bakery

7750 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX

Stuck in Dalls, TX, for two weeks on a corporate partner's training course, imagine my surprise at finding a very traditional-feeling bagel deli just around the corner. Frankly, I did not expect to encounter this level of authenticity in Texas. These bagels are very good, but if you order a reuben, skip the dressing. Oh, and contrary to expectations, the bagels were just regular-size.

Grade: A-

Noahs Bagels

Telegraph Road,
Berkeley,
CA

These bagels are pretty good - round, fat, with small holes. Best un-toasted, I think. They have a tendancy to crunchiness when toasted, which is unfortunate. They make great bagel sandwiches here too.

Grade: B

Manhattan Bagels

Strawberry Village,
Redwood Highway,
Marin County,
CA

Imagine my surprise when I saw this logo. Look familiar? I'm sure that this is the real Manhattan Bagel and those guys in NZ (see below) have either franchised it, or I suppose it could be a knock-off...

Anyway, the important thing is: THESE BAGELS ARE PRETTY GOOD! They have a little cafe outlet in Strawberry Village with great decor, and even though they were very busy when we were there, it was so nice that we didn't mind joining the queue and waiting. The bagels are crusty, a little doughier than the average, but this is how I like them so I'm not complaining. They seem to have all the usual flavors and no hideous combinations (although they seem to offer some weird spreads...). Their espresso coffee is passable, but seeing as they are right next to Starbucks, if you prefer, you can get your coffee next door. They don't seem to mind!

Grade: B-

New York Bagel Bakery

240/1 Greenlane Rd West,
Epsom,
Auckland,
New Zealand

Ron Roman has got the secret of baking the best bagels this side of the Pacific. I don't know what the secret is, but the other bagel bakeries don't have it. Ron's bagels are firm, yet chewy, and not too shiny. They make no compromises at the New York Bagel Bakery: they are not a cafe or espresso bar, and they don't pretend to be one. Just great bagels, and cream cheese spreads if you want them. My favourate bagel: The onion blend. Great slightly toasted, with a schmear of NZ butter.

Grade: A

14.June.2000 Update: Ron Roman reports: "We sold the bagel shop in August 99." This means that I have no idea whether the excellent quality of these bagels has been maintained. If I ever get back there, I'll check them out and update this entry.
24.May.2003 Update: I did get back there, and alas the bagel store no longer exists.

Manhattan Bagel

Ground Floor,
246 Fashion Centre,
Queen St,
Auckland

A new outlet has just emerged over the last few weeks. Manhatten Bagel will sell you plain bagels by the bag, and not bad they are, either. They also have pre-made up bagel-wiches. Bonus points are earned by putting real saurkraut in their Reubens, but unfortunately their non-biodegradable packaging negates that. Their coffee is so-so, so no extra points gained there.

Grade: C+

14.June.2000 Update:
Ron Roman reports: "Manhatten Bagel at in the 246 building no longer exist. This was just an offshoot of Abes."

Zarbo's Delicatessan

24 Morrow St,
Newmarket,
Auckland,
New Zealand

These guys are a really, really good deli that does great lunches. They get included in my bagel list (rated 2nd) because they also have real bagels, which are pretty good. Extra bonus points earned because they actually stock anchovie paste, and real marzipan, and roasted garlic, and their deserts, and...

Grade: A-

Wofem's Bagels

54 High Street,
Business District
Auckland, 
New Zealand

Until recently, Wofem's were rated number 2 in the "genuine bagel" scale. However, recently Wofem's were demoted to street cafe, second class, due to a certain incident a week or so ago. I won't go into details here, except that they couldn't get my order correct, then couldn't find me (even though I was sitting in plain sight) and then they ate my bagel for lunch. When I finally reminded them that I hadn't been served yet, they had another go, but still got the order wrong. I should have realised something was amiss when I walked in and found the familiar staff had been completely replaced by "bagel bimbos".

Despite this, they still serve the best espresso out of all bagel cafes surveyed. Favourate Bagel: Sesame. Recommended with turkey, cranberry, and mustard. (If you can get them to make it without stuffing up.)

Grade: B+

14.June.2000 Update:
Ron Roman reports: "Wofem's sold their shop at 54 High Street and opened another one at 50 High Street. Strangely, the 54 High Street shop still sell bagels, both NYBB and Wolfems!!!

Abes Real Bagels of Chicago

12-26 Swanson Street,
Business District,
Auckland,
New Zealand

These are the only people who I've seen selling _Parmesan_ Bagels. Weird! Abe's Real Bagels win a third placement in the ultimate bagel quest (which is not a bad thing. Remember that I am only listing providers of what I consider are "genuine" bagels (as genuine as you can get in this part of the world). Their bagels are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Wofem's. Light and airy. They offer Reuben bagels, which is good, but they don't use saurkraut, which is not so good. Also, even though their bagels are steamed rather than boiled (and normally this is grounds for disqualification), they make up for it in other ways. Bonus points are earned for their really great orange cake, and very good espresso.

Grade: C+