I have found the best bagel in Brooklyn. No really I have. It is the best bagel I have tasted and I dream of it consistently now.
I stumbled across this gem partly by accident, partly by luck. A few days before an appointment I had in that neighborhood an article caught my eye. On a list of the best of the best bagels places in Brooklyn, Bagel Hole was all the rage. My proximity to the location on the day I visited gave me the push to visit.
The name couldn’t be more perfect. It is certainly quite a “hole’”. As I looked for it I still had to use my phone GPS guide to tell me I was in front of it before I could even realize that I was. It is the tiniest, bare bottoms store I have ever seen. Part of the reason is that the majority of the store is where the bagels are being made. In fact there really isn’t a store at all. There are a few refrigerators selling cold drinks and a cash register in front. A few faded signs hang and that is it. I was the only one in there at first but that line behind me grew quickly. Before you enter the store you can smell the bagels from the street. That is always a good sign.
New York Magazine’s summary says it best:
“You wouldn’t know it from the ordinary, bodega-like corner storefront, but since 1986, this shoebox-sized deli has been making bagels from scratch in an intimate kitchen behind the counter. The Hole’s boiled and baked rolls come in eleven regular flavors from plain and egg to pumpernickel and salt, and are baked throughout the day as needed. Get them plain, with cream cheese (the meaty lox spread is the only one made in house), an egg, or as a sandwich. Boar's Head cold cuts, cheeses, and tuna and whitefish salads are available by the pound, and coolers are stocked with take-home basics like cream cheese, butter, eggs, and milk, plus bottled drinks galore.”
Not too long ago I reviewed another Brooklyn bagel icon, The Bagel Store (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2016/06/for-little-bagel-store-that-could-bagel.html). Now I know that place is largely hype and offers more of a splash with their fancy flavors. The Bagel Hole sticks to the basics, which is why your first bite is so unbelievable. It looks like a bagel you have had a million times but that taste!! However it is truly one of a kind.
I had a piping hot everything bagel with butter and it was like I was in heaven. The warm buttery goodness appeared to be toasted. But alas they do not have a toaster! Nope that was my bagel in its natural crunchiness.
The deliciousness bowled me over. I had no idea what made this bagel so extra special, but it was. Perhaps it was the way the bagel was prepared and that they are constantly making them as they run out, which is fairly often, might be the key. Maybe the fact that they are focusing on only the bagels and not the décor is another. But lastly I think it is because they found a recipe that worked when they opened back in 1986 (when I was five years old) and stuck with it. I could have been having these bagels for twenty-nine years! To thick of all that time I missed out on brings tear drops to my eyes.
The two bagels I got to save for the next day were still good. But nothing compares to eating one with in minutes of it being freshly prepared.
This morning as I sat at my computer typing I am eating an everything bagel, technically a flagel, with vegetable cream cheese. The store where I bought it use to be my favorite and maybe it still is when I consider the proximity to my house. But now that I have had better I can’t be quite so satisfied with past preferences.
An important note before you go:
They only except cash payments! So be sure to have some dough on you so that you don’t have to leave without tasting theirs. I assure you that would be a tragedy.
It turns out that one of the guys working there was also a kind of “hole” himself. I wonder if that’s why he got the job.
That aside, this was the best damn bagel experience of my life and I strive to experience it again and again even if it is not today.
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