If I could only recommend to you one thing to eat in New York I would say it should be a Bagel from one of NYC’s traditional Jewish Deli’s. Do not – I repeat do not – leave NYC without sampling one of these beauties.
After a long stroll in Central Park, we had worked up an appetite for some lunch and a cool place to retreat. I had seen quite a few deli’s recommended online, such as Russ & Daughters, Katz’s and Ess-a-Bagel. The latter was on our route back to the hotel (I had to recharge my dwindling camera battery!) so to there we went!
Ess-a-Bagel from outside looks very traditional, admittedly more on the dated front than the heritage, with it’s dark green/red brick facade and small dark windows. This did not deter us! The reviews were very impressive and I was keen to sample a bagel from a legit NYC deli. Inside, I was pleasantly greeted by blissful air con, a short queue and plenty of seating. The low, dark wood ceilings and dated furniture stood defiantly as a true test of time and a homely atmosphere.
There was an overwhelming amount to choose from: not only a huge number of bagel flavours on the menu but endless toppings. Before I could begin to panic (anyone else get stage fright from the pressure to order?!) I spotted that they had 2 of their most popular recommendations taped up to the counter: the Pastrami and the Lomax, which is smoked salmon and a choice of cream cheese (stop giving us choices, dammit!). Phew. Just like Andy from the politically incorrect TV show Little Britain I pointed at the sign and said ‘Want that one’.
Oh these bagels are DAMN FREAKIN’ HOT (whoaaa – and breathe…). The pastrami (open sandwich) was piled high, smothered decadently in grilled cheese and served with sour pickled gherkins that cut through the cheese; and the smoked salmon (closed) was truly wedded with the cream cheese, filling every nook and cranny with delicious, creamy tanginess. The bagels themselves had a delicious chewiness and bite to them. I genuinely feel ashamed at what some in London claim to be ‘sandwiches’: a thin, measly strip of questionable processed meat choked between stale cardboard-like squares. No more, London! No more!
For drinks I cannot forget the amazing homemade lemonade – it’s tangy, ice cold sour-sweetness was the perfect remedy for the humidity that NYC can bring. The iced tea was unmemorable, but maybe this was because the lemonade was such a star.
Two things in Ess-a-Bagel baffled me however: a mannequin dressed in old bagel crumbs and a poster on the wall showing the Heimlich manouvre… Who knew bagels were so dangerous as well as sexy!
Over to you
Have you been to Ess-a-Bagel? what did you think?