A lot of people love huge fluffy bagels. I personally prefer a thinner bagel – it’s easier for me to handle. Some people also like lox and cream cheese. Not me. Blame it on my Southern upbringing, but I just am not a fan. Lox is salty and slimy; too much cream cheese is overwhelming and kinda makes me gag. Sorry.
But so many people were talking about Black Seed Bagels that I had to see what makes them the better bagel. I’m pretty sure these bagels were made as a way to introduce the wary Southerner to yankee bagel tradition. The bagels are wood fired so they come out flatter and almost crispy so it’s kinda like they’re toasted. (This is something many New York bagel shops refuse to do – I like mine toasted. Sue me.) Black Seed has all the traditional toppings but then also gives each one of them a sexy twist as well. So basically you’ve got cream cheese and cream cheese plus. Regular cream cheese is self explanatory. Cream cheese plus would be their tobiko spread or the horseradish cream cheese.
I ordered the number 3 (tobiko spread, salmon, and butter lettuce) and added a radish. The radish is watermelon radish, sliced thin, and almost wide enough around to cover the whole bagel. Just two slices is enough. If you’re used to typical NYC bagel shops which pile half an inch of cream cheese onto a bagel sandwich, it looks like they skimp on the toppings. But they understand exactly how much of each is needed for all the components to shine. The tobiko in the cream cheese added the perfect amount of salt and a gorgeous pink color. I know I said I hated lox (actually I just said before that it wasn’t my thing but might as well put the truth out there – I’m reeeeeally not a fan) so I’m sure you’re wondering why I even ordered this bagel to begin with. It’s not like I was in the mood to torture myself. I just figured if the point of my mission to SoHo was to see what everyone was talking about, I needed to actually try the specific menu items that built up the buzz. And the next thing you know I ate an entire bagel filled with smoked salmon. It didn’t taste like lox I’ve ever had. It wasn’t very salty, nor was it slick and slimy. It was almost like sushi salmon. It was shiny like a proud boy showing off all his Omega 3s but it wasn’t an oily shine.
Not for nothing, but the bagels actually looked pretty, too. Ingredients are nicely composed and arranged in proper proportions, not just slapped on there in a hurry to shout “next!” When prepared like this, I not only eat but enjoy a lox and cream cheese bagel so I’m able to feel like a real New Yorker. The prices are certainly higher than other bagel shops…but high prices also feel pretty New York, too.