Thursday, August 14, 2014

House Of Bagels

House of Bagels is a Jewish deli and bakery located in the Inner Richmond.  They've been around since 1962!  As you can guess from the name, they make bagels, but they also make assorted bread (challah, rye, pumpernickel), plus cookies, tarts, muffins, scones, and other baked goods.  The deli area features bagel sandwiches (with cream cheese and lox of course), plus all your classic sandwiches, including pastrami and a slew of different reuben's.  You can also get latkes, kugel, or matzo ball soup, to round out the proper Jewish deli experience.  But bagels are where they shine, and they offer 27 different varieties.  The bagels are true NY style, boiled.

But ... I haven't ever actually been to their retail store, although I've had their bagels a zillion times.  They are one of the major bagel suppliers for all the cafes in San Francisco, so chances are, you've had their bagels too, even if you don't know it.

The bagels I've had have all been pretty good.  Soft, shiny exterior, good chew, and they toast up better than any other bagels I've ever encountered.
Plain Bagel.
I actually never tried this one.  See, I like bagels, but, I don't like plain ones.  I consider even sesame, poppy, etc generally too plain as well, unless I'm turning them into pizza bagels or perhaps egg and cheese sandwiches.  If I'm having a bagel with cream cheese, I need either the bagel, or the cream cheese, to be more interesting.

But Ojan eats these all the time.  They are soft, have a good shine on the outside, and I guess are good for plain bagels.
Whole Wheat Bagel.
I also don't tend to go for whole wheat, as they are also a bit too plain for me, but Ojan gets these all the time too, and after having a really enjoyable whole grain bagel from Panera, I decided to give one a shot.

I liked it far more than I expected.  Like all of their bagels, it was soft, had a nice shine, and toasted up nicely.  I know that all bagels should toast about the same, but they don't.  House of Bagels bagels get a nice crust on the exterior but stay soft inside.  Pretty much perfect every time.  Not sure what they do differently!

It had a heartiness to it from the whole wheat that I appreciated.  I paired it with some Noah's blueberry cream cheese I had leftover, and that combo worked really well.  I'd definitely have another, if I had flavored cream cheese to go with.  Or perhaps butter and honey?

Since I liked this before, I tried another one on another occasion, when I had some leftover whipped raspberry vanilla cream cheese.  Again, it toasted up nicely, I loved the heartiness, and it made the very sweet decadent cream cheese feel almost healthy.  A nice combination.
Pumpernickel Bagel.
Classic pumpernickel rye bagel.  Like all the bagels, it had a nice shine on it, was fairly moist, toasted up nicely.  Good with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and accompaniments.

Previous notes:  I really love how their bagels toast up.  I feel like a broken record, but they get this amazing slight crust on them, yet stay perfectly fluffy inside.  The pumpernickel isn't my favorite flavor, it is a bit strong for me, but if you like pumpernickel, this is surely a winner.  Currently Ojan's favorite.
Sesame Bagel.
Another decent, although slightly boring, bagel.  Good chew, toasts nicely.

Previous reviews:  Solid bagel.  Soft, good chew, toasts up well.  Sesame seeds have good flavor and crunch. A fairly boring bagel variety, but well done.  Goes nicely with smoked salmon and herb cream cheese. [ I think this is my favorite.  Always soft, and toasts really nicely. Also good with blueberry cream cheese. ]
Poppy Seed Bagel.
Very decent!  Good chew, nice amount of poppy seeds.  Good with egg and cheese.
Everything Seed Bagel.
I think would have been good but I over-toasted it.  It had poppy seeds inside the bagel too, which was a fun touch, then poppy, sesame, onion?, garlic? on the outside.  I need to try again when I watch my toaster oven better!
Pumpkin Bagel (seasonal).
One time, I was faced with a large assortment of bagels.  I knew somewhere in the mix were pumpkin, but I wasn't quite sure which were the pumpkin bagels.  None were orange-ish.  This one was darker than the whole wheat, but lighter than the pumpernickel, so I couldn't figure out which kind it was, thus I guessed it was pumpkin.

The moment I smelt it, I knew I was correct.  The "pumpkin spice" aroma was strong.  Made with pumpkin puree and spices (nutmeg, clove, ginger, cinnamon).  Sadly, it smelt better than it tasted.  I didn't get any pumpkin flavor at all, just the spices, which were quite strong.  I wanted to taste pumpkin though, so this wasn't a winner for me.
Blueberry Bagel.
Blueberry is one flavor of bagel that I always think can sand on its own, with plain cream cheese, simple butter, or, as I often do, butter and sugar.

This was a fairly standard blueberry bagel.  It had a nice blue color, some pieces of blueberry throughout.  The bagel was like their others, decent chew, crust toasted nicely.  It didn't have a ton of flavor though, which left me a bit disappointed, as I do really love blueberry bagels!

I liked it best toasted with butter and sugar on top, but I wouldn't really pick this flavor again.
Cranberry Bagel (seasonal).
Another seasonal offering, cranberry.  Made with dried cranberries, but unlike the blueberry or cinnamon raisin, the dried fruit was not in bits, but rather was incorporated into the mix, making it a lovely pink color.  The cranberry flavor was decent, but I felt myself wishing for something more.  I think I also just wasn't in the mood for a bagel, at all.

On another day, I went for the cranberry again.  The color just drew me in.  Like all of their bagels, it toasted up just perfectly, but I didn't taste tons of cranberry, which was fine, because I had a lovely whipped berry cream cheese to pair with it.
Cinnamon Raisin.
Like the blueberry, this one surprised me in how much it disappointed, as I expected it to be one of the best. Didn't have good flavor, and wouldn't get again.
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