As a native New Yorker, I’ve oft been ridiculed for never going to the “real” bagel joints in the city. For me, bagels are simply a neighborhood thing, a weekend breakfast food that you pick up on a short walk, along with a cup of coffee and the day’s paper. While I have had the privilege of living near some excellent bagel shops (especially in Queens), I’ve never lived near any of the more famous ones, and so I never had reason to make the trip. Then, on one of my Fridays off, B brought me to Ess-A-Bagel in Midtown East after an early afternoon workout. While it was not the epiphanic moment I had been almost hoping for, it was a solid bagel and certainly better than what many of the delis and other breakfast places in the area have to offer. Also, all of their bagels (and most everything on their menu) is certified kosher.
Eager to go on a carb binge after a long cardio workout, I opted for the Nova Lox sandwich on a Cinnamon-Raisin Bagel. (I know, I’m crazy, and I don’t blame you if this causes you to lose faith in my review. It’s a taste I acquired at some point, what can I say?) In any case, I highly recommend this particular sandwich on the bagel of your choice. The cream cheese was generously applied but not overwhelming, the lettuce was fresh, and the lox was particularly outstanding. My only disappointment, actually, was the bagel itself–it wasn’t stale, but it was noticeably hard. Still, the Nova Lox made it thoroughly enjoyable, and now I’m curious to try the Belly Lox next time.
B and I ate our bagels there, which worked out fairly well since it wasn’t a particularly busy time of day. The line was long but moved quickly, and though seating is a little cramped at this location we found a table just fine. Service was short and surly–but at a New York bagel shop, that’s sometimes how it should be, especially when it helps move the line along. And finally, I don’t always comment on bathrooms, but theirs was impeccably clean. So clean in fact, that I was kind of embarrassed thinking about the condition of my own.
Domestic woes aside, Ess-A-Bagel is well worth a visit, and I would consider anyone who is able to make it their neighborhood bagel stop very lucky indeed. While the one particular bagel I had was not especially life-changing, they have an impressive selection of cream cheeses, fish, and salads, and all of these looked fresh and delicious.
- Food: B+
- Service: B
- Atmosphere: A-
GPA: 3.425 (B+)