Tag Archives: Absolute Bagels

I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

NUMBER 85: EGG-IN-A-NEST at TRAIF

I’ve been cooking “eggs in a hole” for many many years. It’s rather simple: butter a piece of bread, cut a hole, and while frying the bread, break an egg in the hole. Flip, and after a few minutes, there you have it. Simple.

Traif takes that simple idea, but turns it up a notch… or three. Chef Jason Marcus takes two pieces of rich brioche toast, stuffs it with brie, béchamel, truffle cream, and meaty portobello mushrooms. All of that is topped with a perfect fried egg that once broken adds another layer of richness. And while all that decadence sounds like it could be too much, it’s incredibly balanced and you’re left craving more. Thankfully it’s served with the actual bread hole on the side (stuffed with more earthy, cheesy goodness). Price: $11

TRAIF
229 South 4th Street (between Havemeyer Street and Roebling Street)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(347) 844-9578
traifny.com

NUMBER 84: MARIA SIN SANGRE at CLOVER CLUB

While I love the flavor of Bloody Marys, I usually think it’s like drinking a thick spicy tomato sauce. I’d be happy to pour it on some pasta, but I can’t usually swallow an entire glass of it. Mixologist Julie Reiner of Clover Club serves four versions of Bloody Marys at brunch. And I’m so relieved I took the plunge and tried one.

The one I chose, the Maria Sin Sangre, translates to Mary without the Blood. And that’s partly why I liked it so much. It’s a subtle mixture of muddled cherry tomatoes, basil, silver tequila, sherry, and lemon juice. The drink exhibited the perfect balance of sweetness, herbaceousness, and spice. This is a brunch cocktail that Bloody Mary lovers and haters can agree on. And you’d have to be crazy to confuse this light, complex cocktail with something that goes on pizza. It’s meant to be sipped and savored. Price: $10

CLOVER CLUB
210 Smith Street (between Baltic Street and Butler Street)
Cobble Hill
(718) 865-7939
cloverclubny.com

NUMBER 83: CHICKPEA FRIES at PEACEFOOD CAFE

Ok, so technically this was not something I ate at breakfast – although I believe this vegan restaurant on the Upper West Side serves these in the morning. They’re a healthier, more interesting version of french fries. And they reminded me of a wonderfully savory take on french toast.

Imagine the logs of fried chickpeas are the toast (they’re gluten-free) and the tangy, earthy tahini dipping sauce is the maple syrup. They’re seasoned with aromatic Indian spices (cumin, cardamom, chili powder, and cinnamon) that give it a complimentary sweet and spicy flavor. They’re somehow crispy without any excess grease and they give way to a warm, soft center. Combine the concept of falafel, french fries, and french toast and you have a delicious creation any time of the day. Now if only they’d serve it with a side of bacon! Price: $7

PEACEFOOD CAFE
460 Amsterdam Avenue (between 82nd and 83rd Street)
Upper West Side
(212) 362-2266
peacefoodcafe.com

NUMBER 82: CACIO E PEPE at MAIALINO

The brunch at Danny Meyer’s Maialino was the most memorable breakfast I’ve had in a long time. Time Out brought us here to try their take on lox and cream cheese (they use swordfish and robiolina cheese), but every dish we tasted was stellar. I could have included any of them on this list.

But the stand-out was the Cacio e Pepe, which translates to cheese and pepper. This combination is traditionally served on pasta (and Maialino does a version of that at dinner), but it made for one of the most memorable egg dishes I’ve ever had. The porridge-like dish was quite simple, but Chef Nick Anderer’s refined hand and technique was evident in the revelation of textures and flavors. The soft scrambled eggs were creamy and tender, with the rich pecorino cheese and generous fresh cracked black pepper playing up the earthy, spice qualities. I haven’t stopped dreaming about this since.

MAIALINO
2 Lexington Avenue (between North Gramercy Park and 22nd Street)
Inside the Gramercy Park Hotel
Gramercy
(212) 777-2410
maialinonyc.com

NUMBER 81: EGG BAGEL at ABSOLUTE BAGELS

I devoured a lot of bagels this year, but only one was life changing. And it wasn’t at one of the old school Jewish bagelries across the city, but rather at a Thai-owned neighborhood spot near Columbia University.

Sam Thongkrieng, who has worked at classic spots like Ess-a-Bagel, has trained his staff at Absolute Bagels very well. He wasn’t there the day I tried one of their famous egg bagels with a sweet shmear of strawberry cream cheese. The hot out-of-the-oven bagel was life changing. The yellow-hued dough pulls apart so easily and melts in your mouth as you chew. The rich bread has a sweet and savory flavor that is the perfect foil to the cream cheese. And the fact that they bake their bagels throughout the day means you can have this transcendent experience whenever you want. You just got to get yourself up to 107th Street. Trust me, it’s worth the trip. Price: $1 (without cream cheese)

ABSOLUTE BAGELS
2788 Broadway (between 107th and 108th Street)
Upper West Side
(212) 932-2052

Finally! The fifth episode is unleashed. This one is in conjunction with the musical comedy team, Mel & El. Make sure to check out their website and their webseries when it premieres.

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Category: Bagels, Video

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

Traditionally, bagel shops (and appetizing shops) are run by Jewish families – oftentimes older men who may be trying to uphold the traditions of the Bagel Bakers Local 338 union. But of course, that union no longer exists and bagels have become such a universal, international food that Jews are not the only ones making and eating bagels nowadays. In fact, quite a few of the most popular bagel shops in the city are owned by Asians.

That’s right. Absolute Bagels sounds like it should be a great place to get a nosh and in fact it is, but nobody that works here speaks Yiddish (I’m guessing) or refers to a bagel as a nosh. Yet Absolute is consistently heralded as some of (if not the) best bagels in the entire city. The owner’s name is Sam Thongkrieng and he is from Thailand. I’m not sure what the bagel industry is like over there, but Sam learned his trade at a number of popular bagel shops in New York, most notably at Ess-a-Bagel before opening Absolute in the early 90’s. And it’s been an unassuming success ever since.

I came here many years ago to seek out what I had read was the best bagel in New York. And I had to concur. I don’t remember my experience too specifically back then, but if it was at all convenient to my usual path, I’d have had many more experiences to talk about. But as it is, Absolute is all the way up near Columbia University, which is probably the most difficult area for me to get to by train coming from Queens. Yet for bagels, I’ll make an exception.

As I  entered the small no-frills shop once again, I watched a few workers rolling out the bagels. It was amazing how similar the precision and speed was to all the dumplings I saw being stuffed during my dumpling quest. Here, it was a different type of dough and a different shape, but the focus was the same. The smiley man running the register told me almost all the bagels were hot. I couldn’t imagine that was exactly true since it was close to 3pm. Not sure if there was a slight language barrier or if he meant they were all fresh. Taking his word, I chose my usual: plain and everything.

The Everything bagel was on the smaller side (which I appreciate), but it made up for flavor intensity for what it lacked in girth. This was the first fully realized everything bagel I’ve had on the journey so far. It was completely covered in, well, everything. Yet it didn’t overwhelm the wonderful soft textures of the bread. Everything bagels are a tough one to get right – most places are either too skimpy with the toppings or overwhelm you with salt and garlic. This was the perfect balance.

It wasn’t exactly hot as the man had promised, but it was surely fresh. It had a nice crisp give when I bit into it and the dough inside was yeasty, soft, and wonderfully chewy. The dough was slightly sweet, but all those flavors rounded it out. Garlic, salt, onion, sesame, poppy. This was a very special bagel.


Their famous egg bagel, on the other hand, must have truly just come out of the oven. It was life changing. The yellow-hued bread was richer than most, but had a soft doughy texture that made me want to put my head down on it and sleep – after I ate it, of course (if that were possible). The flavor was sweet yet savory. And I paired it with some of their strawberry cream cheese which was the perfect match both in color balance and in sweetness. It was far from cloying, yet I wouldn’t have complained if this were on the menu for dessert.

In addition to the strawberry option, they offer lots of different cream cheese flavors, including the very unkosher Bacon and Cheddar. But the plain was fluffy and smooth enough for me. A perfect complement to the brilliant bagel.

The Plain bagel was much larger and plumper. It looked swollen next to the previous specimen. It was slightly dry (granted I didn’t add cream cheese to this one in the interest of my love handles), but still maintained that crunchy exterior and dense chewy inside. Without the everything seasonings in the way, I could taste some sweet malt and something a little sour or citrusy at the finish. A bit of a letdown from the home run to start with, but still a very worthy bagel.

Again, I feel like I need to find a reason to come this far uptown more often. The bagels, especially the Everything one, are truly spectacular. There’s no kosher certification on the door or closed signs during Rosh Hashanna, but there is a well-trained bagel making staff that are serving noshes as good as anything the Jews put out around town.

Does Absolute Bagels have the best bagels in NY? The plain bagel was a little large and sweet, but the everything bagel earns this place a 9 out of 10 and puts it in the running for the best in town.

ABSOLUTE BAGELS
2788 Broadway (between 107th and 108th Street)
Upper West Side
(212) 932-2052

Category: Bagels

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