I’ve never really been a bagel person. In my mind they’re all too dry, too crumbly, too stodgy, and more often than not too cream cheesey. Or at least that’s what I thought.
It wasn’t until recently I tried a Best Ugly bagel that I finally understood what all the fuss was about. (Note: I was away when these things exploded on the Auckland scene so please forgive my tardiness). The king of bagels, they make Abe’s look like peasants, even when they’re prepared at home which is exactly how I first devoured one. Hungover, with avocado and haloumi. Yum! A 6-pack ain’t cheap though (around $12), but hey, you get what you pay for.
What is it about Best Ugly Bagels that make them taste so much better?
- Well, firstly, they’re slightly sweet. I thought perhaps they were loaded with sugar because my inner sweet tooth was instantly enamored from the first bite. Turns out Al Brown’s beloved bagels are simmered in honey water. A sweet surprise if ever there were one!
- Secondly, they’re a Montreal-style as opposed to the familiar New York-style. With a crispier outside and chewier inside, an airy rather than dense texture, and no salt (a definite plus when you’re already committing carbicide), they certainly beat out the Yankees in the bagel game.
- Thirdly, they’re all handmade and wood-fired, just like the originals they’re based off from St-Viateur in Montreal. In fact, Al and his best bagel mates flew all the way over there to study the tricks of the trade. You know what they say about learning from the best…
- Fourthly, despite favouring taste and texture over aesthetics, these bagels are still a good looking bunch, imperfections and all. At least that way you know they’re handmade with love.
These aren’t just the best ugly bagels, they’re simply just the best bagels.
That’s why when their new store opened up in Newmarket on York Street I was eager to check it out. Having never visited the one at City Works Depot, this was an exciting outing for me. Hello bagel heaven. The industrial vibe, open kitchen, low key menu, relaxed outdoor seating, and roaring fireplace had casual Friday, hangover Saturday, and lazy Sunday written all over it. And I mean that in the best way possible.
The menu is simple: choose your bread, choose your toppings. I opted for the classic T.A.B. – tomato, avocado, and basil – tastily dressed up with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt. Layered upon a fresh, chewy poppy seed bagel, this stellar combo was nothing short of delicious; perfect in its simplicity. Coming in at only $8, it makes for a cheap meal (or a cheap date) too, and without the cost of a carb coma. Bonus!
It’s just a shame the Havana coffee was only so-so (maybe they were having an off day?), but I’ll forgive them. They are a bagel shop after all and they’ve got that down pat. Their dough’s in a league of its own and just for that I’ll be back.
Good news too for all those Newmarket fobes, you don’t have to worry about running into your pre teen self on the Broadway strip. Best Ugly conveniently sits alongside all the cool kids in Osborne Lane in the Kent Street neighborhood. Save on lunch, spend on clothes. I like your thinking…
Breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon snack, give me one of those doughy rings of goodness any day. Deliciously simple and fuss-free, Best Ugly Bagels Newmarket delivers satisfaction without the price tag. Now that’s a breadwinner.