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Feb 20, 2012 12:21 PM

So, Wise Sons Deli is open ... who's been? Beauty's Bagels? [San Francisco]

They are closed Monday so don't rush down today.

They use Bagels from Beauty's Bagel Shop in Oakland. Has anyone tried these? Supposedly they have Montreal style bagels too. Currently selling at Saul's in Berkeley on Tuesay and Saturday (don't know if Montreal style)

Beauty's Bagel is opening a shop soon in Oakland

Wise Son's address

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  1. I think all the bagels from Beauty's are Montreal-style. I've only had them once, from Saul's, and they were pretty good but pre-cut and thus not super-fresh (I blame Saul's, not Beauty's), so I'll wait till their brick and mortar opens before I issue any kind of verdict.

    Wise Sons has at various points made their own bialys, and those are fairly traditional and quite good.

    1. beauty's also set up at the kensington farmers market on sundays.

      i usually buy them from sauls. I've never had them precut. However, i believe i read an article that they are baked the night before (or baked really early Sat morning) in Addie's wood fire oven, so they're not super fresh. like abstractpoet, now that they have a brick and mortar, i think ill just wait to buy them fresh.

      11 Replies
      1. re: majordanby

        Thanks. I'll wait and if I gIet to Wise this week will probably get something that doesn't have a bagel.

        I've never tried a Motreal bagel. Stale or not, how close are they? I gotta think the whole wood-fired thing, while nice, is changing what they are supposed to be.

        1. re: rworange

          i like them. controlling for time from oven, i certainly like them over berkeley's bagels and manahattan bagels, two east bay comps. and a heckuva lot better than those bagels produced by spot bagel several months ago.

          talking to one of the owners during the kensington market, the wood fire oven and adding honey to the water when boiling are the main differences. i think they use malt flour, but i forget. im not sure if it's a montreal thing or specific to beauty, but i found beauty's bagels to be smaller and more oddly shaped. someone told me montreal bagels are supposed to be chewier than a NY bagel, but i didnt really find that. they do have a somewhat crisper outer texture, probably due to the wood fire.

          when i bought them, i just reheated them and they came out fine. but, of course, a fresh bagel is always better!

          1. re: rworange

            Montreal bagels are known for being smaller, and sweeter (almost similar to House of Bagels sweetness), with a crisper crust and heavier toppings. Think a good bagel, but not a drastically different, revelatory experience.

            I was under the impression they have plans to make their own bagels, and challah in addition to the bialeys and rye. The rye is excellent, though the caraway seeds they use are muted.

            Wise Sons pastrami is also heavily spiced Canadian style, kind of like what might be called smoked meat there, even though the differences can be subtle.

            1. re: rworange

              The first Beauty's bagels I had from Saul's were unbelievably close to those eaten in Montreal and wonderful. I ate one plain walking down the street. Awesome texture.

              The second time, about a month ago, less fresh, not great texture (though not pre-cut). They had to be toasted. Looking forward to the shop opening!

              Montreal bagels are traditionally baked in ovens.

              1. re: Constant Velocity

                I was wondering more about the wood-fired part which could change the taste significantly giving a smokiness.

                i recently bought a chicken roasted in a wood-fired oven and it tasted like smoked chicken rather than roasted. It turned out to be undercooked so i used it in soup. It made one fantastic soup giving it almost a porky nuance. The smokiness from that oven significantly changed the flavor.

                1. re: rworange

                  Montreal bagels should not taste smoky.

                  1. re: Windy

                    Just wanted to correct some info here on Montreal bagels. Traditionally they are cooked in wood-fired ovens and the best of the Montreal bagel bakeries still do that, places such as St. Viateur and Fairmount. I think they taste smokier in the crust because of that than the good places in NY, which all use gas or electric ovens as far as I know. They also tend to be smaller and crisper on the outside, softer on the inside. I don't think they're any more heavily topped. There are plenty of sweet NY bagels, usually from malt in both the dough and the water.

                    More often, I think people just distinguish a bagel as "Montreal-style" outside Montreal to indicate that it's done more in a old school NY way, actually -- a bit more dense, hand-rolled, more flavor in the dough, etc, since pretty much every bagel in NY is now rolled by machines resulting in something bigger and softer than what people would have called a bagel 100 years ago.

                    The only place I've seen doing a true Montreal-style bagel outside of Montreal is Eltana in Seattle. I think they replicate what Fairmount and St-Viateur are doing EXACTLY. Personally, I prefer old school NY bagels to Montreal-style bagels, but Eltana will definitely transport anyone who has experienced true Montreal bagels and loved them.

                    1. re: extramsg

                      A lot of places are now advertising "hand rolled" bagels in NY, for what that's worth. Some other part of the process is probably still machine made however.

            2. re: majordanby

              Have you seen Beauty's at Kensington recently? That's not on their current list.


              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I don't think there were any bagels yesterday at Kensington. Lots of baked stuff but not bagels.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  havent been to kensington since the last week of Dec. my guess if we extrapolate from Wally's report and the facebook page, with the new brick and mortar opening soon, they've dropped it. thanks for the correction!

              2. Haven't been yet..was going to go this morning...but happily I called first...and did find out that they aren't open on Monday......I am a Brooklyn boy and from what I have heard... Montreal bagels are supposed to be somewhat sweeter than NY Bagels..but I also will withhold judgment until I taste one warm from the oven...Montreal is also known for their smoked meats...pastrami etc. but I've never tasted their version either...something to look forward to....

                3 Replies
                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  Just to clarify. Wise is only buying the bagels from Beauty. The rest isn't Montreal-style deli at Wise.

                  However, from what I've read Beauty wll have sandwiches but no clue where the cold cuts will be from or if they will be Montreal style.

                  1. re: rworange

                    ..."a consummation devoutly to be wished".........ya gotta give 'm hope..

                  2. re: ChowFun_derek

                    Ordinarily, they won't be open Mondays, but they were open today. I know because we ate lunch there today. Apparently, we weren't the only ones who knew - there was about a 20 minute line to get food. We were lucky enough to get a table. We had the pastrami (fabulous), the tuna (not to my taste), the pastrami cheese fries (very good, but I didn't think they were quite as good as they sounded, and the kugel (very good - like a noodle pudding). Unfortunately, they ran out of the matzoh ball soup before we ordered. Considering they hadn't really opened yet (the official opening is tomorrow), I think everything operated as smoothly as could be expected. The staff was super nice.

                  3. I went on Sunday morning. They definitely have quite a following for not being officially open yet - at least 20 minutes before we ordered and sat down and another 20+ for the food to arrive. Since I'd had their pastrami before I wanted to try the corned beef and had it on a reuben. Unfortunately the corned beef was nothing special - a bit tough and surprisingly bland for my taste. The rye bread, which they make, was fantastic.

                    We ordered cured trout on a bialy, but they ran out of trout and gave us sable. It was unfortunately not very good - too fishy and a bit dry. The bialy, however, was great - again it seems like their breads are their strong suit right now.

                    We also had the Matzoh ball soup which was tasty, though I have no real comparison points for the dish.

                    Not planning to rush back until the lines die down, but worth a stop for the bread at least and probably the pastrami. Agreed with Martin above - very nice staff and cool space.

                    1. Just had my 1st ever Wise Son's pastrami sandwich, purchased at their stand at the Tuesday Ferry Building Farmers Market. I would rate it a B or B-. The pastrami could use a little more bite and the rye bread needs to be sliced just a little bit thicker.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: DavidT

                        I agree with David. I had the pastrami sandwich (only once mind you) and it was good but something was lacking. It was a good sandwich but it didn't wow me, the pastrami needed more flavor. I'll have to give them another try.

                        1. re: virtualguthrie

                          I too had a pastrami sandwich at the Thursday farmers market and found it lacking. As virtualguthrie said, it just didn't have much flavor. It seemed like they were aiming for something a bit more refined than your usual pastrami, but it need more kick, and more fat. Lean pastrami just doesn't work, a case in point being the pastrami that Saul's in Berkeley has been turning out since they started doing it themselves.

                          1. re: TopoTail

                            I had the pastrami as well on Saturday. I also found it lacked fat and flavor. I did like the pickles and potato salad. I'll go back and try some other things soon. Unfortunately they were out of bagels when I got to the front of the line..

                            1. re: TopoTail

                              I had some lean pastrami @ Saul's a couple of week's back.

                              They told me it can be variable even within the same hunk of meat so next time to ask for a sample of the pastrami before getting seated and to also specify to the server that I wanted a fattier cut.

                              1. re: drewskiSF

                                I requested "jucy" (which used to be an option on the menu at Saul's) the last time I went there, and it was still dry. I didn't even finish the sandwich.

                                1. re: drewskiSF

                                  My understanding is that traditional pastrami was made from just the navel end of the brisket. If Saul's is using whole briskets, then some of it would be dry.

                                  I ate plenty of pastrami in New York in the 80s and it was consistently fatty and good.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I once had pastrami at Katz's in New York that was TOO damn fatty. It must have been two-thirds fat: huge hunks of hand sliced chunks of fat. I found myself trying to pick through it to eliminate some of the fat, which was only created a huge mess. I had to abandon the whole thing.

                                    1. re: TopoTail

                                      I'm not a Katz's fan either. Best pastrami I've had in the past year or so was Langer's (LA) followed by Kenny & Zuke's (Portland).

                                      I thought the tongue at Wise Sons was better than the pastrami when I was at the popup.