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May 1, 2013 06:40 AM

Tandem Bagel Company - Easthampton

I was so excited to hear that a bagel shop was opening in Easthampton. I didn't have very high hopes for a great bagel but I figured even if it were as good as Bruegger's it would be better than nothing.

Stopped in yesterday for lunch and learned that my skepticism was well founded. I had a plain bagel with egg and pepper jack cheese and my husband had a plain bagel with cream cheese. We both agreed that as a sandwich it was pretty good but not a good bagel. It was more like semi-dense white bread shaped into a bagel! It had a pretty good flavor but absolutely no tooth to it at all. Soft, soft, soft! As far as bagels go in the Pioneer Valley, Bruegger's is hands down the best. But then Bruegger's doesn't have nearly the charm of this place.

Tandem is in an old train station building and the brick walls have been painted white, giving it a bright cheerful atmosphere. It has a beautiful old fireplace (also painted white) and it looks like it works, which will add additional charm in the winter months.

You order at a counter and they bring your food to you. There are a few seating options. You can sit in the room where you order and that's where the fireplace is. The room has a long high table with high stools placed along the wall with windows, or you can sit at a regular table. There's a second room that has several tables along two walls. We sat in that room in front of an open window with a nice breeze. And then there's an outdoor patio area that looks very comfortable and also has several tables. The building is on the bike trail and the shop has a ride up window for bicyclists. A nice touch.

They had a pretty good selection of drinks, such as blood orange San Pellegrino which is one of our favorites and there was a board with daily specials. The specials were things I would like to try. A salad passed by our table and it looked delicious and very large.

My overall impression of the place is that it's a great space, has great service, a nice variety of sandwiches, drinks, and daily specials, but lousy bagels!

That said, the sandwiches were tasty enough that I will probably go back and try some of their other menu items. I just wish they had called themselves something besides a bagel shop. I read some other online reviews and people were raving that these were the best bagels they had ever had. I don't know what those people have eaten before, but it makes me sad to think this is what passes for a bagel these days.

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  1. is this the place where they supposedly trained with a great bagel maker from nyc???

    14 Replies
    1. re: faith

      I'm not sure. It could very well be that they did. It's almost as hard to find a good bagel in NY these days.

      1. re: JunieB

        had a good bagel at Utopia Bagel in Queens over the weekend. still haven't made it into tandem.

        anyone here had bagels from
        Woodstar in Noho?

        1. re: faith

          ok, so I finally got to Tandem Bagels for the first time today. I liked the sandwich I had, 'harvest wheat bagel' had lots of nice crunchy seeds on the garden veggie cream cheese , cucumber . tomato and avocado on it. $5. True, this bagel was different from a NY bagel. It was lighter. Yet it had a nice chew to it and I liked the crunch of the seeds. They toasted it lightly for the sandwich. later I talked with one of the owners. He said they were not trying to make an authentic NY bagel. They wanted to make bagels that would work for sandwiches, and a NY bagel is often too dense to work well that way, the insides squish out when you bite down. I thought I'd read about the owner training under an old Jewish bagel maker....but I guess the owner trained under an old west coast bagel maker, ethnicity unknown. AND he said they are steamed, not boiled!

          1. re: faith

            Yep, that's what they got, sandwich bread. I really like their shop and I hope they make it. If you ask me there aren't enough sandwich shops in the Valley.

            1. re: JunieB

              it's better than the average sandwich bread Junie, I know you feel a great sin has been committed. I think it's somewhere in between ny bagel and sandwich bread.

              and have you had woodstar's? also not exactly ny bagel. but they are small and pretty chewy.

              1. re: faith

                I love Woodstar's bagels. I had one everything with cream cheese, tomato and onion (sometimes I get the lox, as well). They are a "normal" sized bagel, the crust is nice and crisp and the inside is's a great balance. They make them in-house, with (i think) all organic ingredients.

                1. re: saintp

                  THANKS saintp for the woodstar comment. the only bagel I got at woodstar was kind of on the small side but I try to limit my gluten so I figured that was fate..seemed like 3 in. diam. or so. I think it was an everything bagel, I asked if there was salt on them and the counter person looked at the bagel and said no. i couldn't see any either. Turned out there was salt on there, I don't really like having salt on it. But I did like the bagel otherwise. and love that they are using organic flour etc.

                  any opinions on Iggy's bagels, made in Boston? Whole Foods has them in Hadley and Sip cafe in Noho also sells them. They taste pretty authentic Ny-ish to me but I wish I wouldn't have seen the sodium content listed on their website. Something like 800 mg per bagel! oy!

                2. re: faith

                  Ha! No, I've given you the wrong impression. I'm not as much of a bagel snob as I sound. I enjoy a toasted Breugger's bagel with cream cheese as much as the next person - and I thought the sandwiches at Tandem were perfectly fine for what they are. I was merely lamenting my disappointment in the consistency of the bagels. As for making a bagel that holds up for sandwiches, I like old fashioned, hard, chewy bagels just fine with an egg or lox, onion and tomato on it. It doesn't need to be soft for me. And I guess I'm expressing my disappointment in the thing that seems to be replacing the bagel. It's a dying art - but I'll survive!

                  No I haven't tried Woodstar's bagels. Not likely that I will now because my husband and I are moving to Philadelphia next week. Keep up the good reviews.

                  1. re: JunieB

                    Best of luck in Philly! Hope they have an active CH board there!

                    1. re: JunieB

                      moving to Philly??? ok I retract my harsh comments. I understand now. anyway, have fun in Philly. I went to college there and loved it , thought I'd never move away. however...fate had other plans. I do like visiting still. check out the Desi Chaat House at 42 & Baltimore. bon voyage..

                      1. re: faith

                        Thanks. I know what you mean about fate. We lived in Philadelphia (well, Narberth) for 12 years through the 90's. When we moved to the Valley (12 years ago) - after 15 moves, I thought this might be the last one......oh well, I'm always up for an adventure! Philadelphia has changed a lot since we lived there. It has become quite a "foodie" town. Thanks for the rec. I really can't wait to start exploring the new food scene. I did recently go to Kanella and it was quite tasty. My husband works with several Indian guys so I'm looking forward to hearing their recs for Indian food. When we lived there our favorite Indian place was Minar Palace in Center City which was a great hole in the wall. The food was served on paper plates with plastic utensils. They have moved and I think they're using real plates now. lol. Another favorite of ours was the Burmese restaurant (Rangoon) on 9th street near Chinatown. We went there recently and the food is just as good as ever! Both places have moved but you can still walk across the street after dinner to Ray's Cafe and Tea House for the most awesome coffee/tea service you've ever experienced. I'm sad about leaving the Valley but as you can tell I'm pretty excited about getting back to Philly. Come visit sometime!

                        1. re: JunieB

                          so where do you live now in the Valley, I have no idea...I'm in Amherst.

                          1. re: faith

                            We live in Easthampton, thus my thread about Easthampton eateries. It took a while to get used to the dining scene in the Valley, but over time we have found at least a handful of good options. We're going to Gypsy Apple for our last fancy dinner before leaving.

                            We usually avoid Amherst during the school season, but then when school's out we always mean to visit more often than we do. It seems like the summer break is very short!!

                            Have you tried Moti? I would think they have good vegetarian options.

                            1. re: JunieB

                              I've only had a few things at Moti...falafel, dolmas, baklava. I liked the dolmas.....not so thrilled with the rest.