Part One, August 15
As I walked up to the store front I immediately thought, “We are off to a great start… this is promising!” What impressed me right away from the sidewalk was the statement, “Bagels baked on premises.” There was all sorts of tasteful and artsy signage customary to NYC style of sidewalk chalkboard stand up signs. I was blown away by the freshness, cleanliness, and simplicity. I took a look around and saw a full staff with 7+- persons in the front end behind the counter and more than were not visible through an open doorway to the kitchen area. They do a lot more than bagels and this place has a very steady stream of customers coming for baked treats, bagels, wraps, deli salads, fresh fruit juices, shots, and smoothies. Another observation was that at 10 a.m.+/- all the deli and baked items displayed in the open cases and closed cases were fully stocked with as near to perfect presentation as you can imagine.
Let’s talk about the bagel experience.
I ordered the my favorite as I have been doing through my NYC bagel quest, “A whole wheat everything bagel with lox spread on one side and scallion spread on the other, and then squish the two sides together.” These are the very close if not the exact words I use when I order. I try hard to not alter my wording much so I can keep the scientific aspect of this quest consistent.
They boil them. +1
They had all the traditional primer recommended flavors available.
The clerk asked if I wanted it toasted, instead of assuming. +1
The bagel had all the appropriate seasonings that make it an everything bagel. +1
They gave me a whole wheat everything bagel with scallion spread, fresh lox, capers, red onion, a lot of thin slices of tomato* (I have a high standard for tomatoes). -3*
The bagel itself was visually great. It had the ideal small blisters here and there and the very visible signs of stretching of the dough as it cooked. I took a bite to test the texture before I returned it. It was crisp and just right crunch that requires use of the teeth. Plus great on the inside as well. +2
I re-ordered the bagel. I point out what I got and I repeated my order clearly and concisely. No one offered me any kind of refund for the cost variance of the bagels. I know enough about the bagel business to know that fresh lox will cost more than 1 or 2 spreads. -2
The bagel itself looked great. Awesome quality on the outside and inside just as the first one. +1
The smears were… weirdly applied! Somehow they took what I said to mean put one type on one half, then the other on the other half, and then slice it down the center keeping both flavors separated from each other. I am thinking about it now and maybe this guy worked in a pizza place before? At this point I was talking to myself, shaking my head, and throwing my hands up in the hair. I stood up and got a plastic knife and reapplied the spreads as I like it. DIY! -1
I ate half of the bagel and decided to ask to speak to the owner or the shift supervisor with the intention of letting him address the problem with understanding the order and the lack of any inquiry about the cost deferential that wasn’t offered to me. He took more than 5 plus minutes to come out. I told him I am a freelance/amateur writer and I am writing a series on best bagels in NYC and that this is the third place I’ve visited. I explained to him what happened with my incorrect orders. He didn’t seem to be interested in the quality of the service at his business and simply wanted the bottom line, “What did I want?” I told him as the owner I wanted to hear from him before I write my article and give him a chance to address the concerns. He asked me again what I had gotten and again I explained. He commented about the strange half & half order that was made and said it was because of how I ordered it. I agreed there was a misunderstanding on how I wanted it, but I let him know that this was the only place I have ever been to that came up with that interpretation from what I stated. He replied, “Well, we are one in a million.” That was said with sarcasm and not humor. Again he came back to, “What did I want?” I restated that the two things I wanted to speak to him about were the fact that no one even thought to ask about a reimbursement and that I wanted to give him a chance to address the order/service problems. I was trying to be fair and give him a chance to address, redress, & correct the problems. I felt this would be a great way to gauge customer service of the establishment.
During the conversation the owner made comments such as, “let’s not get excited,” and “you know we are really busy here.” I can really genuinely say I was not even close to “excited.” I do know when he said that I cocked my head to the right and semi-smiled, but rolled with it to see what other pearls this man was going to toss me. There was a woman in the background that was listening to all the conversation. I am going to guess she is involved in the running of the business and she brought me $5 as a refund. I pretty sure she knew she was witnessing epic fail at customer service. I left there thinking I will come back again and see how it goes the second time around. This place has incredible food fare. Exceptional quality everything in regards to food from what I gauge with my eyes, but service could use improvement and management needs to stay in the kitchen. His staff was very friendly, even if they screwed up they seemed to care more about fixing it than the owner, and they were authentically apologetic for the errors. This reminds me of Catskill Bagels where I loved the product and employees, but the owner is not himself good with people.
Overall this place I would absolutely recommend to go to eat a bagel at in NYC. Yes, even in spite of my mishaps this artsy fartsy place bakes a very good bagel.
*About tomatoes: I believe many, if not most Americans, haven’t seen or tasted an honest to goodness non GMO tomato. I have and it’s a rare thing nowadays for me to eat GMO whitish-pink flesh crap excuse of a fruit grocery stores and restaurants try to pass off as a tomato. I am having none of it!
Part Two, August 20
As promised I went back and gave this place a second chance. I thought they might remember me from last time, but if they did they didn’t say anything or show it in any way I could tell. So again as I entered I found the place very clean and pleasing in overall appearance. Although this time I would say the variety of deli and baked goods were not as well stocked as the first time. Those other deli items aren’t why I am visiting, so that’s here or there for my current purpose.
I ordered exactly the same thing I always get: an everything bagel with two types of cream cheese, scallion on one side and lox spread on the other, squished together.
This time they got my order right the first time. +1
It wasn’t toasted +1
The crust was blistered all over. The inside was chewy. Damn it was beautiful +2
They didn’t wrap up the bagel in paper before cutting it this time and they didn’t wrap it a second time in thicker paper wrap like last time. -1
This place has bagels that meet the Good Bagel Manifesto standard.
They really only failed with the wrap/cut section. I feel I finally found a place worthy or ordering bagels from. Now I just need to find out what time I have to get there in order to get one still warm. That will make it perfection.