After a few months of Sodexo-provided bagels, the existence of real bagels may slip from your memory, just as real pizza, macaroni and cheese and sushi are nearly forgotten out of repetition.
In honor of National Bagel Day this Feb. 9, however, local establishments deserve some light. Please note: Dunkin Donuts’ bagels don’t qualify as bona fide bagels, though to those pedestrians — freshmen especially — who make the weekly, Route 31 pilgrimage: I know and feel your pain. However, those who can drive or coerce friends with cars, be wary: After enjoying the savory morsels provided by the following locales, you may find it difficult to settle for the Library Café.
For an elemental bagel selection consisting of the primary flavors — plain, sesame and poppy seed, etc. — New York Bagel Shop and Deli (1097 Parkway Ave.) offers a fairly authentic New York bagel shop atmosphere — complete with grease and primitive seating. This being said, the venue may or may not be suited to your dining-in preferences. However those craving deli style sandwiches or just a basic, everything with cream cheese on the go, New York Bagel may be your best bet.
Those with more daring taste buds should venture slightly further to satisfy their carbohydrate needs. Maidenhead Bagel Co. (2645 Lawrenceville Rd.) in Lawrenceville (exit 7b off of U.S. Route 95 North) has an incredible assortment of bagels and sandwiches. Perhaps the most unusual is the Burkum, a sandwich consisting of porkroll (but really Taylor Ham, South Jersey), egg and cheese placed on the pièce?de résistance, a glazed donut. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lawrence school students created the sandwich. As a vegetarian (and an individual with a sensitive gag reflex), I unfortunately can’t provide a firsthand experience with the Burkum. However, Maidenhead’s spinach bagel is delicious, especially when combined as an egg and Swiss cheese sandwich. The shop’s whole wheat everything bagel is a bit overzealous in the salt department but is crammed with, well, everything, which can easily be countered by generous amounts of cream cheese — especially of the vegetable variety.
Pennington Bagel (25 U.S. Route 31) is home to the bagel to rule all bagels. The bagel to end all others — the asiago cheese bagel. The cheese baked into and onto the bread makes for a culmination of flakiness and crunchiness, a salty, but slightly sweet experience. If the Pillsbury Doughboy and a bread bowl at Panera Bread had a love child, it would be this bagel. Another variation of this bagel sometimes available is the swiss cheese bagel, which I recommend be combined, again, as a Swiss cheese and egg sandwich. On my not-so-adventurous (a.k.a lower self-esteem days), I opt for the whole wheat everything bagel, which is less salty than Maidenhead’s version, though not as decorated.
Though these locations offer many delectable options, I must mourn the absence of my ultimate favorite, the Black Russian bagel, which is usually a pumpernickel bagel with
walnuts and raisins, topped with sesame seeds. Maidenhead very rarely makes a batch of these godly morsels, though workers said that they can make them upon request. As a self-proclaimed Black Russian snob, these special requests are simply not worth the foresight nor the additional effort. And to every bagel establishment employee who has impatiently tried to convince me to settle for a plain pumpernickel bagel, I say: They are never the same and never will be.
Katie Brenzel can be reached at email@example.com.