Thursday, May 20, 2010

Absolute Bagels - an absolute must in New York

Although bagels were invented in Europe, they are synonymous with New York and it's worth seeking out some local examples while visiting.

While many bagels are just baked, New York bagels are boiled first, then baked, and they come in many varieties: plain, poppy seed, sesame seed, cinnamon and blueberry are just some of the versions on offer.

Debate over where to get the best bagels in New York is fierce and H&H Bagels on the Upper West Side is usually named as one of the contenders. We did visit H&H and got a cinnamon bagel to munch on as we headed to Joe's for a coffee and then to Central Park. The downside at H&H for us was that their bagels are served unfilled (all the better to go with the feast of goodies available from Zabar's across the road), but we wanted ours ready to go.

Absolute Bagels at 2708 Broadway (between 107th and 108th Streets) on the Upper West Side was recommended to us. A short subway ride from our Midtown hotel got us there at 9.30am, where we found all nine tables packed, along with a queue and a regular stream of take-away customers. Fortunately service is quick and turn-over is high and we snagged a table before we even had a chance to order our bagels. I chose the quintessential New York bagel: a lox smear (cream cheese mixed with smoked salmon), while Adam opted for bacon and cheese.

The bagels have great vertical height and are evenly balanced between the bagel layer and the smear, which is a misleading name - this was a huge hunk of smooth cream cheese, mixed with very finely chopped smoked salmon. The bagels have a crispy surface but are soft and chewy inside and a delight to eat. Adam enjoys his bacon and cheese bagel, but I found the orange-coloured small dices of cheese off-putting.

Service is brisk, bordering on curt, and it pays to know what you are after before you get in the queue, but the dumb questions from bagel novices such as ourselves were answered patiently and our bagels were ready in double-quick time. The internet is littered with reviews naming Absolute Bagels as the best bagels in New York. We didn't try any others to compare but we were completely satisfied and this will be one of the first visits on our next trip.

Absolute Bagels
2708 Broadway (between 107th and 108th Streets)
Upper West Side

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