Hold the presses and pass the cream cheese; three new bagel cafes have opened in Western Suffolk County: Bagel Basket in Commack, Brendel’s Bagels & Eatery of New York in Huntington and Bagel Biz in Melville.
Wouldn’t it be fun, I thought, to start the day with a bagel throwdown? So I stopped into each cafe on my way to work and picked up an assortment of bagels and some whitefish salad. Then, I put everything out on a table (blind taste-test style) for everyone in the office to sample. And critique.
The all-around winner (for both bagels and whitefish salad) turned out to be Bagel Biz. The bagels were crusty, chewy and dense. “Has substance — like a New York City bagel,” one of the tasters wrote. The whitefish salad had nice chunks of whitefish and a fresh natural flavor. It tasted like fish without being fishy.
Second place went to Brendel’s of New York, an oddly configured (triangular) space that just opened next door to the new Liquor Plaza on Rte. 110. (Be careful not to miss it if you’re going South on Route 110; the parking lot appears before the place does). The bagels, close in flavor and texture to Bagel Biz, were just a little bit doughier. “Too pillowy,” someone wrote.
Size-wise, no one could compete with Bagel Basket’s bagels, which were too massive to fit into a bagel cutter. “Light, almost airy, for a bagel,” one taster declared. Some people (not I) do prefer their bagels that way. The whitefish salad was oily enough to leak out of its container and stain the side of the bag. “Undistinguished, like a commercial spread,” one taster wrote. “Bland,” wrote another.
All three places have extensive menus with breakfast dishes, salads, sandwiches and panini as well as pastries.
Bagel Biz (which also houses Sweet Hollow Bakery) is at 443 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, 631-385-1900, bagelbiz.com
Brendel’s of New York (which also has a café at 1075 Old Country Rd., Westbury, 516-338-4994) is at 133 Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington, 631-923-0561, Brendel's of newyork.com
Bagel Basket Café is at 639 Commack Rd., Commack, 631-486-5126, bagelbasketcatering.com.
Photo of interior of Bagel Biz, Melville/Joan Reminick