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Jan 7, 2007 01:38 PM

Bagels in Raleigh

Are there any good bagels available in Raleigh? I've been tolerating Bruegger's for a while but this morning's bagels hit rock bottom. Many of their local franchises do not fully bake their bagels. They are a very pale tan rather than fully brown, ghost bagels as we call them. Today's bagels were properly colored but had the texture of soft sandwich rolls. No crust, no body to them.

A few of the independent shops weren't too bad, but for various reasons were not able to stay in business. Has anyone found a good bagel in Raleigh? Please don't suggest frozen H&H bagels. Once a bagel has been frozen much of it's previous quality is gone. Thanks for the help.

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  1. Rocky Cat,

    I completely agree with your two aversions: "ghost bagels" (great phrase) and frozen bagels (whatever their provenance). Southern Season carries H&H Bagels and some kind of frozen import Bialy. They're simply wretched. In Chapel Hill, I've yet to find an adequate bagel. Bagels on the Hill makes an edible bagel, but you wouldn't want to waste your lox on it.

    For those interested in making their own -- probably the best bet around here -- I recommend Maggie Glezer's "A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Baking Around the World." This book and Glezer's "Artisan Baking Across America" are the best books on breadbaking that I know. I own Nancy Silverton's highly regarded book, but I've yet to dip into it. She too has a bagel recipe that's likely to be worth trying.

    Bagels and simple, and yet so elusive.

    1. The best I have found in Cary are from NYBD in the Crescent Green shopping center -- which I think stands for New York Bagel Department. I believe they have a location in North Raleigh as well.

      They are quite a bit better than Bruegger's, but still a far cry from NYC bagels. I think the NYBD bagels are good -- except for a few weeks immediately following any trip to NYC.

      1 Reply
      1. re: emazzone

        The New York Bagel and Deli is far superior to Breueggers. The North Raleigh store is at the far end of the shopping center at Falls of Neuse and Strickland (away from Krogers). Not bad at all and they have some other decent New Yorkish stuff as well -- especially their black and whites, danish, babka and whitefish salad. On Fridays, try their challah.

      2. I've had the same frustration with Bruegger's. The people in the store don't know or care that their bagels are undercooked. I've mentioned this to various employees/managers at the Creedmore store and was met with vacant stares. I went so far as to write to Bruegger's corporate and they were kind enough to send me a coupon for more, terrible Brueggers bagels.

        I regularly go to New York Bagel on Falls of Neuse. Their bagels are good and sometimes you can even get some New York attitude with their service. I'm thrilled I can get a good bagel at New York Bagel, but wish the rest of their baked goods weren't so mediocre. For example, the black and white cookies look great but don't taste great.

        As another poster pointed out, making bagels at home is surprisingly easy. I suggest the recipes in "The Best Recipe", "Crust and Crumb" or "The Bakers Apprentice". These recipes call for malt powder but honey works just fine.

        1. mbeatle, sounds as if we live in the same neighborhood. The Creedmoor Bruegger's is the worst offender in this area. The Stonehenge one is a little better and the one at Sutton Square on Falls is a little better yet. At least the staff there is friendly.

          And while I do enjoy baking I can't remember a weekend morning where I was coherent enough to consider measuring ingredients properly. This AM's non-microwaved oatmeal was a challenge. :-)

          1 Reply
          1. re: rockycat

            It's nice to hear from a sympathetic soul. I'm amazed and dismayed at the popularity of some truly mediocre or even outright bad restaurants. The suburban herd either can't tell the difference between good and bad food or they don't care. And yes, I am a big food snob.

            A great thing about making bagels at home is that you mix and shape the bagels the night before and put them in the refrigerator. The next morning you boil and bake the bagels, straight from the fridge. You can be eating homemade bagels within an hour and a half of waking up. And most of that time is spent drinking coffee and reading the paper.

          2. Haven't made it to NY Bagel yet but just wondering if they (or anybody else in the Triangle) sell bialies.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Guilty Gourmand

              If they say they do they are selling you a bill of goods. The late, unlamented Strathmore Bagels on Duraleigh claimed to have bialys. It was just the bagel dough reshaped and baked without boiling. That is not a bialy.

              I'm very prejudiced but I believe the only place to get bialys is Kossars on Grand Street in NY. They have a website and will ship but since bialys only stay fresh for one day they have to be overnighted and the shipping costs are crazy.

              1. re: Guilty Gourmand

                I just went back to my copy of Mimi Sheraton's "The Bialy Eaters." She writes in more than one place that bialy dough is different from bagel dough in that it uses more yeast and doesn't have malt or any fats. And of course it's never boiled.

                If you really want to get nuts about bialys that is a great book. All you ever wanted to know about bialys and stuff you didn't know you wanted to know. I re-read that book last night, I just had a bagel for breakfast, I'm seriously jonseing for a real bialy now!

                1. re: rockycat

                  Well, the recipe in the book isn't *that* hard to follow . . . I only tried it once & while the results weren't anywhere near Kossars, it nevertheless made for a fun afternoon. I think you owe it to yourself (and all of us) to make a batch . . . and then invite us over!

                  1. re: rossgrady

                    I'm still looking for bread flour but right now I'm more interested in a homemade English muffin recipe I got from the CIA website. Hardly a substitute for bialys but any kind of homemade bread is food for the gods.

                2. re: Guilty Gourmand

                  NY Bagel does have bialys on their menu. Haven't tried them though.

                  1. re: panthur

                    Don't! The bagels are the best I have found in the area, but the bialys suck.

                      1. re: TerryG

                        A number of years back, when Susan Houston was food editor at the N&O, she did an article on "bialys" available locally. Nearly every local bakery who features rolls called bialys just takes their bagel dough and bakes it without first boiling it. That is not a bialy. In the past, frozen H&H bialys had been available in the area and, unlike bagels, bialys do not suffer from freezing. In fact, if a bialy isn't eaten within a few hours after baking, it should be frozen.
                        Kossar's Bialys on Grand Street on the Lower East Side will overnight you bialys but the shipping is unreal. I know. I've done it. If you find someone who's got the H&H frozen, go for it. They're almost as good as Kossar's.