When in New York two weekends ago, I took the opportunity to make a quick pilgrimage to one of my favorite bagel places.
Now, I know some of you out there may be thinking, “This guy is a bit crazy – how good can bagels be? I mean, who makes a bagel pilgrimage?!”
In fact, upon my return to the office, my Welsh colleague said, “I really don’t get what’s so great about bagels,” or something to that effect.
Well, this is obviously because he – and you, if you are doubting me – has NEVER HAD A PROPER BAGEL!
They can be amazing, but it is rare to get very good ones – nay, near impossible in London I would say. But in New Yoik, there are a few places where you can be assured of a satisfying bagel experience.
One of these such places is Ess-a-Bagel, which sadly I only discovered a few years ago, way after I moved away from the Big Apple. It was totally by accident, when we were in the NYC for a family event. Our hotel was nearby their midtown branch (there is also a downtown location on 1st Ave., but I’ve never been), and one of my relatives had been there the day before and said we should definitely go. So we did, and I go back every time I can when I am in town now.
I have been reliably informed by my relative who lives in NYC and works near the shop that on weekdays, at both breakfast and lunch time, the line snakes well outside the front door – meaning that there are normally at least 30+ people waiting for their fix at peak times. We went at a very ‘off-peak’ time on a weekend (when it is meant to be slower), and check out the line/queue…
…which meant that we still waited a good 15 minutes to reach the guy at the counter. During that time, I was debating what to order. My favorite combo - handed down to me by my father – is lox, cream cheese, onions and tomatoes (capers optional), and this is what usually have. But this time I opted to for eggs, lox and onions with a schmear of cream cheese. Okay, so not that much different, but if it aint’ broke…
While waiting, I also had a chance to snap some photos (below) to help show you the place – see, I am listening to constructive criticism! Meanwhile, Mrs. LF was hovering over the outdoor garden-esque chairs and tables for a spot to sit, and eventually found us place to plonk ourselves down.
In any case, our bagels were toasted and wrapped, and we sat down to devour these devilish beasts. The bagels lived up to my high expectations, being very crispy on the outside with the right amount of chew on the inside (although I still prefer my normal order, sans eggs). The coffee, as usual, was just about passable, in that black New York diner coffee sort of way.
Bottom line: if you go to New York City, are in midtown, and fancy a bagel, go here. Other places of a similar ilk worth a mention and/or visit are: