My search for the best bagels in New York continues….

BLACK SEED BAGELS, 170 Elizabeth Street (between Spring and Kenmare Street), NolitaThere’s not usually much hoopla surrounding the opening of a new bagel shop. If I discover a new one, it’s usually by walking by or a friend tells me about a new shop in their neighborhood. It’s a bit different for pizza and ice cream shops – they’re always over-publicized and hyped to the point of excess.

Black Seed is a brand new bagel shop that not only opened to much fanfare and publicity, but also got more attention from the long line of food-obsessives who waited hours for a taste of these new bagels.

The Spreads

Part of the hype is due to the fact that this new shop in Nolita is a collboration between the owners of Mile End, a Montreal-style deli that has been blessed with lots of attention and praise (including on this blog) and The Smile, a popular brunch spot in the area. Black Seed is also distinct because the bagels made on-premises are much closer to the more compact honey-laced Montreal bagels than their doughy NYC brethren.

I’ve tried Montreal bagels once before at Mile End and really enjoyed them with some smoked salmon. But those were flown in from Canada. These are made right here in lower Manhattan. And so the crowds descened to get a taste of something new.

Not Montreal

I finally visited Black Seed late in the day (after any breakfast or lunch crowd would have dissipated) and asked if any of the bagels were hot. The everything bagel was the only warm one and it sounded great on one of their specialty sandwiches, with tobiko cream cheese, smoked salmon, and butter lettuce.

#3 Sandwich at BLACK SEED BAGELS

My excitement waned when I realized how much I paid ($13) for a tiny little bagel with just as little salmon. I do remember that Montreal bagels are by nature smaller and more dense, but I felt cheated.

Specialty Sandwich at BLACK SEED BAGELS

The disappointment continued as I ate the sandwich. All those expensive ingredients got muddied together and I could barely taste anything other than salt. I also contribute some of that salinity to the overly seasoned everything bagel. And the tobiko spread must have contained some fish eggs, but I didn’t get any popping sensation, which is half the fun of caviar on a sandwich.

Sesame Bagel at BLACK SEED BAGELS

But I was here to review the bagel itself, so in fairness, I decided to place an order for another bagel and this time I chose the most common Montreal version: sesame. I didn’t get cream cheese on it because I had already spent all my money (and calories) plus the cream cheese would have cost an extraordinary $1.50 on top of the inital $1.50 for the tiny bagel.

IMG_3887

This bagel had a nice chew and I got some sweet, honey notes, but it was a bit hard. I imagine it was baked hours ago. Yet it still had a decent chew and would have been nice with some cream cheese.

The Chew

Perhaps I’m too much of a purist when it comes to bagels (especially in NYC), but I was disappointed to find that Black Seed is making just decent bagels but charging high prices. Sure, the Montreal bagel is a novelty in this city right now, but once the hype dies down on this place, I think we’ll all go back to our neighborhood bagel spot. And I’ll never know when a new one opens.

Does Black Seed Bagels have the best bagels in NY? They’re not making NY bagels, but they are making bagels in NY so I think it’s fair to judge them. It’s neat to try Montreal-style bagels and I understand the appeal of sweet, dense, crunchy bagels, but the high price and bland toppings earn this just out of10.

BLACK SEED BAGELS
170 Elizabeth Street (between Spring and Kenmare Street),
Nolita

(212) 730-1950
blackseedbagels.com
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Category: Bagels

About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

2 Responses to BAGEL REVIEW: Black Seed Bagels

  1. Rena Moosa Bernstein says:

    Brian,
    Montreal bagels are an acquired taste and one that I love, at least the ones that are made in Montreal and you get them right out of the wood/coal burning oven. I have never developed a real love for the NY style bagel. They are too doughy and are as hard as a bowling ball by day 2. The Montreal Bagel stays soft for days. They are best toasted as I love when those sesame seeds get a little browned. People I know from Montreal say that Black seed Bagels are a suitable substitution but are NOT the real deal.
    Rena

  2. Brian Hoffman says:

    How’d I know you’d comment on this? These were a bit hard and too expensive for their tiny size. Perhaps I should have gotten it toasted. NY bagels are best when eaten the day they are baked. There is nothing like a warm NY bagel right out of the oven – untoasted. But I’d really like to try Montreal bagels in their birthplace. One more excuse to visit Montreal.

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