Monday, May 08, 2017

The Bagel Bakery

The Bagel Bakery is a totally nondescript bagel shop/cafe located on a random street in SOMA.  It is open only Monday - Friday, only for breakfast and lunch, and is closed for all holidays.  I normally eat those meals at my office, so, I passed by this little place, without a second glance, for years.

The first time I ventured there was because I was on a mission to find a good bagel for someone.  Yelpers claim The Bagel Bakery is the only authentic NY style bagels (aka, boiled then baked) on the West Coast.  It averages 4 stars.  People rave about the bagels, the egg and cheese breakfast bagels in the morning, and the bagel sandwiches at lunch.

When I stopped in to procure the bagel, I got a bagel for myself as well (I mean, I had to try one if they are the best, even if I'm not a bagel person, right?), and a muffin ... cuz I couldn't resist, and a mocha.  I figured it would be my only visit, so I needed to try a bunch of stuff!  I did end up returning a few more times to get more bagels for said bagel-lover, and tried a few more baked goods.  The baked goods are clearly not their specialty, but, the bagels are pretty good, if you are in the market for an authentic bagel.

Setting

Bagels, cookies, scones, hamentoshen.
Inside is not large, with only a few small tables to sit, a counter displaying the bagels and baked goods, and a self-serve coffee station on the side.

On all my visits, it was fairly busy, a steady stream of folks grabbing their breakfast items to go.  The patrons were a funny assortment of constructor workers wearing reflective vests and carrying hard hats, techies in hoodies, and business folks in suits.  Reflective of the neighborhood, I suppose.

Service was friendly enough and efficient, clearly used to moving the line along.

Bagels

Bagels are the specialty, and occupy most of the counter space.  They are available with a large variety of spreads (including tons of housemade flavored cream cheese), but most folks, at least in the morning, were going for the bagel omelets: bagels toasted, buttered, and stuffed with huge fluffy omelets, choice of cheese, and meats.

The bagel selection is extensive: plain, egg, whole wheat, rye, pumperknickle, onion, garlic, poppy, sesame, all-in-one, multiseed, sundried tomato, cinnamon raisin, chocolate chip, and probably others I just didn't see.
All-in-One Bagel.  $1 plain/$3.25 with flavored cream cheese.
Since I was picking one bagel, there was only one choice - the all-in-one!

I thought it was interesting that they also offered "everything seed", which had the same poppy and sesame seeds, but no salt, garlic, or onion.  I suppose, those are the polarizing things on most everything bagels, so, it kinda makes sense.

The bagel had a decent distribution of toppings.  It had a soft interior, and a flexible exterior, just a slight crust.  It seemed legit to me.

A bagel itself is just $1, which seems fine, but if you want flavored cream cheese, the price skyrockets to $3.25 (plain cream cheese was $2.95).  That seemed ... steep.
Date and Walnut Cream Cheese (extra $2.25 with a bagel).
The cream cheese lineup was as extensive as the bagels, and it was hard to pick one.  I settled on the date and walnut.

It was really delicious.  The highlight of anything I got from The Bagel Bakery, actually.  Sweet from the dates, bit of crunch from the walnuts, rich and creamy.  I could eat it by the spoonful and pretend it was cheesecake.

The cream cheese is available on a bagel, or in tubs to bring home.  I'm not sure of the price of this in a large tub, but with a bagel (usually on it), it adds $2.25 to the price, which seems high for a single serving of cream cheese.

Other Pastries

The other pastries are not their specialty, but, baked goods are much more my thing, so I had to try them anyway.  The Bagel Bakery confirmed that do bake them off fresh every day at the store, but, are made from mixes from a wholesale supplier.

Muffins

I started with a muffin.  The full lineup includes blueberry, lemon crumble, apple cinnamon, banana walnut, chocolate, and almond poppyseed.  They were large and fresh looking, fairly tempting, actually.
Lemon Crumble Muffin. $1.95.
The astute reader will recall that I don't really like lemon flavored things.  Yet I picked a lemon muffin.  My other choices that day were just were banana walnut, almond poppyseed, or chocolate, none of which are my favorites.

But I'll be honest - the real draw for this one was the sugar topping.  When I ordered my muffin, I didn't just ask for a lemon one, I asked for THIS lemon one, as it had the most generous topping!

The muffin was ... ok.  It looked much better than it tasted.  Not particularly moist, but not exactly dry either.  Nice lemon tang (yes, I said it).  Crisp top, loaded up with sugar.  I was hoping the topping was going to have more to it than just sugar, but, white granulated sugar is all it was.  Which is fine, but ... not exciting.

The muffin was also HUGE.  Think Costco muffin size.  I'm sure if it were a packaged product, it would say serving size: 2 or more.  $1.95 was a great price for a muffin, but I wouldn't get this flavor again.
Banana Walnut Muffin. $1.95.
On my next visit, I went for a different flavor, hoping it would be better.  Sadly, they still didn't have most of the varieties I wanted to try, and the other muffins all looked a bit dry, so I went for banana nut, even though I'm not generally a fan of banana muffins either.

It was pretty much exactly the same as the lemon muffin: highly mediocre.  It wasn't moist, but it wasn't dry.  It wasn't burnt.  It wasn't stale.  It had just the right number of bits of walnut strewn throughout.  Some banana flavor.  And not much else.  No other spicing to make it interesting in any way.  No crispy top, moist or dough interior, or any interesting texture.  It just was.

It was also again massive, although it is hard to see in this photo.  I felt a lump in my gut after eating only half, I can't imagine what it would do to you if you ate the whole thing.  I think the oil content in particular was quite high.

I would not get this again, and dodn't bother trying any more of their muffin varieties after this second strike.

Scones

So what's a baked goods loving girl to do?  Move on to scones.  The scone lineup was more limited, just blueberry, raspberry, and pumpkin (seasonal special).  These too are baked off at the shop in the morning, but come from a mix.
Pumpkin Scone. $2.25.
Now, I wasn't excited about the pumpkin aspect of this, but, much like the sugar crumble topping on the muffin, you can probably guess what drew me in: the icing!  The other scones did not have any icing.

The white icing layer was very crusty, solid, quite sweet.  On top of that was an additional icing drizzle, spiced with standard pumpkin pie spices.  Well, I wanted sweet sugar topping, so, I got it.

The scone itself was pumpkin flavored.  Also spiced with classic pumpkin spicing.  It was a bit dry, but not burnt.

Just like the muffin, there was nothing really wrong with this scone, it was just ... boring.  There was nothing to fault exactly, it just wasn't awesome.  And, just like the muffin, it was pretty huge.  2 servings for sure.

$2.25 price was pretty standard for a scone.

Beverages

Along the wall is a cooler with bottled cold drinks, but most folks were going for coffee in the morning.  I'm pretty sure every person I saw had a coffee cup in hand, either simple brewed coffee, or espresso beverages.  I couldn't resist on my first visit, and joined in.
Self-Serve Coffee.
The Bagel Bakery offers 3-4 varieties of pre-brewed drip coffee (no decaf), along with a great condiment station complete with a slew of varieties of sweetener, half and half or milk, plus cinnamon and cocoa.  I always appreciate the addition of spices to top off my coffee.
Decaf Skim White Chocolate Mocha. $2.XX.
Since it was a rather cold day, I was looking for a warm, sweet treat to cheer me up, so I ordered a White Chocolate Mocha, not a drink I get often.  I most commonly drink regular coffee, or na americano, and generally black.  I only add milk to my coffee when I dislike the taste, and never go for drinks like lattes (so much milk!), so a white chocolate mocha was certainly out of character.  But it was what was I craving.

It was well made.  A generous amount of well prepared foam.  It was sweet, milky, creamy, pretty much exactly what I wanted in this strange mood.  I didn't really taste the espresso, but that was kinda the point.

Strange craving satisfied, and if the mood ever struck me again, I'd get another.  More likely, I'd try a regular cappuccino, since the foaming skill of the barista was obvious in this drink, so I trust she'd do that well too.

The sub-$3 price tag was shocking for a made to order espresso drink, with additional flavoring.  This place really is quite reasonable price wise, except that cream cheese ....
The Bagel Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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