We were delighted to find this landmark on our second trip to New York. The original location Ess-a Bagelat 1st and 21st was a lovely destination for an early morning walk from our “home away from home” near Gramercy Park.
The decor has seen better days but was not even noticed by the line up of people ordering their “to go” items. The couple of older gentlemen that were seated at the tables looked right at home.
On our first visit to what I call carb heaven, I would have described the service as “curt” as the counter guy had so many people to take care of but on this occasion he was willing to have his photo taken (or maybe it was because I was with my sister-in-law and not my husband on this visit). He shouts your order to another staff member who obediently counts and bags the confections.
Now bagels from home are pretty good especially with a smack of Winnipeg cream cheese and I’ve even had the wonderful good fortune to sample bagels in Jerusalem, but Ess-a bagels are another species. They look like over inflated tires! The are appropriately chewy on the outside requiring a real good tug to assist your teeth in tearing off a bite. The inside is tender and yeasty-a perfect platform for the piece de resistance, the schmears: savoury cream cheese with herbs, garlic and spices and smoked fish of course. And sweet offerings with cinnamon, nuts and an endless array of fruit and berries.
These were our backyard breakfasts for our extra long New York weekend and the memory of them have me searching out seat sales once again.
Kath’s quote: “the first printed mention of bagels…is to be found in the Community Regulations of Kracow, Poland, for the year 1610 which stated that bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth.” -
‘The Joys of Yiddish’ by Leo Rosten