Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bagels and being judgmental: A New York thing

Not edible

This morning I decided to walk to work, heading north on Broadway, so that I could stop at Absolute Bagel for breakfast. Lo and behold, when I arrived at the office everything bagel with butter in hand, a bag of H&H bagels was waiting. And so, I take this opportunity to pass judgment.

Absolute wins. It isn't even close. Here is why:
1) Better bagels - H&H is like a big, soft, rounded hunk of bread. Good luck getting a warm one anymore - it seems like all the fresh bagels get shipped off to a number of restaurants, diners, and delis around the city. It it all reputation and no character. Absolute is a tighter, less airy bagel. More notable is that it has flavor. When I get a bagel with butter, the butter melts. Why? Bagels are being churned out constantly, so they are fresh and warm, and just plain awesome.
2) No sense of superiority - H&H does not shmear. They sell the bagel, they sell packages of cream cheese. The rest is up to you. Absolute will toast your bagel. They have the full spread of offerings. And they do not rip you off. A bagel with butter is $1.25 (roughly the cost of an H&H bagel). Cream cheese is $1.95.
3) On my way to the office - not really relevant to anyone else, but I thought a third point was needed.

The real question, however, is whether Absolute beats Bagel Oasis - my hometown favorite and consistently well-reviewed - for bagel supremacy. The bagels are very similar, but Absolute wins again. Bagel O has dropped off in the past decade or so, and the bagels are not quite as good if you don't get a fresh one. There are times when my jaw aches after a bad Bagel Oasis outing. At Absolute, I feel like I always get a fresh one, which may mean the two aren't being judged fairly. But this is New York, and who cares about fairness when it comes to bagels?

Absolute Bagels, 2788 Broadway (at 108th Street)

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