Are these really the best bagels in New York City? Why in the world would one even want to “beet cure” an otherwise perfectly good piece of salmon? Would Black Seed Bagels even exist if Instagram did not? What else is Canada trying to steal from us?
These are the questions that we imagine being asked if someone were to convene a summit of New York’s most respected bagel experts. Since no such summit has been proposed (and since everyone in this town is apparently an expert), we’ll take a stab at the answers: no such thing, because it tastes good, probably not, and freedom.
Now that that’s been settled, let’s have a simple conversation about Black Seed Bagels. Opened by Noah Bernamoff of Mile End and Matt Kliegman of The Smile in the summer of 2014, Black Seed makes bagels in the much-celebrated “Montreal style,” meaning that they’re poached in honey water and seeded before being baked at high temperature on premises. They’re smaller than the behemoths that you probably get from your neighborhood delivery spot, they’re a little bit crispy, and they have a bit of sweetness to them. They’ve been called “perfect,” “ambitious,” and “the best” by many people who describe food for a living. We’re not ready to go that far, but we can confirm for the few among you who haven’t had one that they are excellent.
The thing that tends to get people so riled up about Black Seed is all that talk about it being New York’s best bagel. We’d argue that there’s just no way for any bagel shop to hold that title, simply because there are too many great bagels in NYC. We’d also argue that Black Seed Bagels are actually more about what’s inside the bagels, rather than the bagels themselves, much in the vein of Russ & Daughters. High quality ingredients and well-executed creativity is what makes these sandwiches great, and sandwiches are really what this place is all about.
Let’s also take a minute and be thankful for the fact that if these aren’t New York City’s best bagels, how lucky are we to live in a place where “not the best” is this f*cking good? Instead of arguing about it, let’s agree to hold onto that idea for a while - at least until we can get that summit convened.
The lead singer of this band of bagel sandwiches. The one who is always centerstage. This is an excellent creation, and the beet flavor does come through in the salmon (so it’s not just for show). But there are others we like just as much.
We love the Tobiko spread on this one, and butter lettuce makes any sandwich better. A great order if you’re down with a little fish roe.
The pickled belly lox on this sandwich are a little funky - you’ll find a little bit of vinegar flavor in every bite. This is also one of the more simple sandwich preparations on this menu,
Building your own sandwich is obviously an option too, and we often go that route. Our move? Sable and cucumber. You do what feels right.
All photos by Noah Devereaux for The Infatuation