133 Walt Whitman Rd. Huntington, NY 631-923-0559
Craig Beresid has been making bagels professionally since he was 17. In January 2008, at age 37, he struck out on his own with Brendel's of Westbury. ("Brendel" was a childhood nickname.) In December 2009, he opened a second store, across from Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington. Both stores have plenty of seating but no table service.
Brendel's official motto is "blending traditional tastes with refreshing creativity," and that sums it up pretty well.
The creativity comes in with the store's unusually diverse range of comestibles. Bagels, wraps and panini, yes, but also quesadillas and made-to-order salads that can include more than 40 different toss-ins. At breakfast there are eggs and omelets; at lunch burgers, rotisserie chickens and hot entrees. "We want to be there all day for every food need," Beresid said. "The coffee's always hot, the soups are always on."
On the traditional side, there is the incomparable whitefish salad, made with nothing more than smoked whitefish and enough mayo to keep it together. The tuna salad is similarly stark, and delicious. All salads are made daily, from scratch, at both locations. Also recommended, the carrot salad sweetened with plump raisins, and the Israeli salad with dark green and light green peppers and sweet red onion.
Beresid makes an admirably classic bagel (try the minis with their favorable crust-to-dough ratio) but isn't too proud to experiment. Newly minted varieties include bacon-and-egg, cranberry-apple and French toast. Is there a bagel he wouldn't make? "I wouldn't make a bagel that didn't sell."
-- ERICA MARCUS