Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Heart the New York Bagel Café

It had me at the mustards.

The first thing I saw after I crossed Gateway Boulevard and stepped into the New York Bagel Café was the centre-piece of mustards, hot sauces, jams and honeys grouped together on each table and I fell for NYBC.

Great centerpieces and menu!
How could I not?! There were three kinds of mustard on my table and I hadn’t even seen the menu yet!

It was my first time venturing into the little bistro on Gateway and 84 Ave and I was excited to take myself out for lunch for a different kind of sandwich experience and finally discover its appeal. I caught it at a quiet moment in the afternoon, which is a rare thing since I've heard that comfortable space is bursting with people during a post-Farmer’s Market run on the weekend. I was grateful for the quiet, as it gave me time to take in the friendly vibe - and to study the incredible menu.

The range of choices is definitely impressive for a place that size. NYBC has an extensive breakfast menu with over 20 different Eggs Benedict combinations, plus a solid selection of meat-free bennies and fresh perogies every day. But seeing as it’s the New York Bagel Café, there was really only one option I was willing to consider.
Not the average sandwich menu...

Or so I thought… 

After reading through and visualizing/taste-alizing (like visualizing, only with taste) the remarkably long list of bagel platters, I went with a classic: Lox and Cream Cheese. On white, whole wheat, cheddar or pumpernickel? Or rye bread? While I was tempted by the different options, I chose the whole wheat bagel.  What better way to be ease into this new eatery than with a tried-and-true selection?

It’s always exciting to wait for your food the first time you visit a new restaurant and I enjoyed my wait.  The eclectic music of lively Latin beats, bohemian guitar and the gravely vocals of Leonard Cohen added to the laid-back, slightly off-beat atmosphere. There was even a stack of Far Side comic books to peruse through while I anticipated my lunch's arrival.

Lox and Cream Cheese: an NYBC classic.
New York Bagel Café gets full marks for food presentation! My chosen bagel platter was a beautiful sight to behold: an artfully arranged, colourful spread of brown bagel, rusty-coloured lox, khaki capers and crisp white cream cheese and onions - plus a sour dill pickle on the side.

Since I am that person who takes photos of their food in public, I quickly snapped a few images on my phone and started in on my bagel masterpiece.  

Taking full advantage of the DIY factor involved, I laid the cream cheese on thick, then piled on the lox, capers and yes, the onions because apparently, I like them now!, and I savored that beautiful first bite.

Don't hold the onions - they're great on this bagel!
Really lovely flavours and textured emerged as I ate up my bagel: the smoky, oily salmon, the sharp crunch of onions and the peppery capers. Alternating crunchy bites of bagel with sips from the frothy blend of espresso and chocolate and warmth that was my moca, I thoroughly appreciated the experience of NYBC. 

It’s a good food restaurant, not a fast food one, as a small sign on the bar indicates, so go when you have time to sit, relax and be intrigued by different bagel combinations, intense coffee selections and the varied collection of condiments on your table.  Don’t rush your New York Bagel Café experience; take your time to delight in its charms.

The only unfortunate part of the afternoon - I didn’t get to try all the mustards on my table. But I’m looking forward to going back so I can see which bagel platter pairs well with my beloved whole gain Dijon…

It may take more than one trip back to find it, but I’m up for the challenge!

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