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Oct 18, 2006 04:17 PM

San Rafael--Hilary's Kitchen (House of Bagels) report, sort of

My wife and I gave Hilary's Kitchen a try for dinner last night but found the door locked. For those who did not get original posting on this, try:
The sign outside still said House of Bagels and the interior was still the lunch counter it had always been. While I peered in through the door, someone asked if we needed help. A familiar face! Are you Hilary? Yes, it was. It turns out that Hilary's Kitchen does not do dinners, only breakfast and lunch. Since Hilary has maintained the bagel business, boiling and baking them fresh each day, she has to get there at 3:30a.m., so no dinner service is planned. Her hold-over business from the bagelry is still good and the lunch business is picking up very slowly, she said.

She is adding lots of shmears and lunch will always have borscht, matzoh-ball soup, beef-barley soup, knishes and more. On behalf of ChowFun Derek, I asked about kasha knishes and smoked sable. The sable she currently is attempting to source, as well as chub; she does have whitefish and is doing a whitefish salad. The knishes, I am sorry to report Derek, she tried but after a few weeks of throwing most of them out, gave up on this one.

When I told Hilary I had been a customer at her Fairfax place, she unlocked the door, asked us in and gave us a couple of brisket knishes to take home. We heated them up and I liked them more than did my wife who found them too heavy for her taste. Certainly the potato/brisket filling was dense (and at least a day old by this time) but I found the dough to be quite fluffy for a knish and enjoyed mine. What I really look forward to is a matzoh-ball soup for lunch; that was her bet dish at the old place when it was only available one day a week.

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  1. Thanks for the info and the tip about the soup. I so wish I could get over there this week. Looking forward to more reports.

    1. Stopping by this morning, all the signs still say House of Bagels. It looks pretty much the same inside too. Here's a photo of the counter and the overhead menu boards.

      House of Bagels (full size image for legible menus) -

      It was great to take a seat outside today in the glorious sunlight. A sandbox serves as a kiddie korral.

      I had a seedy bagel with whitefish salad, $4. It was a little underbaked, but had a nice chew. The whitefish salad was looser and more emulsified than I like, but tasted fine if a bit on the sweet side.

      Seedy bagel (not toasted) with white fish salad -

      Most of the people who sat down to eat were enjoying a breakfast plate, mostly eggs. The corned beef hash and eggs, $6, seemed popular. I didn't have pastrami, but did remember to ask the source, and it comes from Roberts Corned Meats .

      4 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Ya know, it is not like I don't pay attention, yet in all the decades I've been in the Bay Area, I've never even heard of Roberts Corned Meats ... and it's not like I haven't shopped at or eaten at the the places listed in their customer list.

        And don't even get me started how many times I've gone up that part of Bryant and never noticed the place.

        Kind of interesting they say the climate in SF impacts the flavor ... just like sourdough bread. Well, at the least I've had their corned beef since I've eaten at Mel's and Tommy's Joint.

        Thanks for the link ... really in business since 1910 ... sells at all those places ... and I'm just clueless about the company ... till now ... really ... I've never seen the meat, let alone the pickles.

        1. re: rworange

          Didn't ring a bell with me either, had to google for information. Now the question is, how good is Roberts corned beef or pastrami?

          1. re: rworange

            That day, a month ago, when I chatted with Hillary, I asked her about her source of pastrami in hopes she would say she had it shipped from New York. She said it came from a source she had found in Oakland (did she say they were new? I do not recall) and she said it was really great pastrami that I would love. However, I have not been in San Rafael for lunch since. I will have pastrami when I do and will report....

            1. re: alfairfax

              Niman Ranch is in Oakland. Was hoping she'd go for Marin's own, David's Old World. Do let us know how the pastrami is.

        2. Al,
          Thanks for the report!
          I'll look forward to the Sable....and am bummed about the kasha kinsh...but the other things sound and look good ......!