Thursday, March 22, 2012

Montreal Bagels (Calgary)

Montreal-style bagels are a wonderful type of hand rolled, wood-fired bagel that don't seem to have gotten to be popular quite yet in Calgary. The flavor of the bagel is usually sweeter than your typical grocery-store bagel, as they have been boiled in honey-sweetened water. They are also comparatively chewier and denser than your typical bagels, which give the bagels a bit of a bite and an interesting texture of crunchiness and chewiness after you toast them.

Sesame Bagel ($0.90)

Cut over to Montreal Bagels, a fairly hidden gem of Calgary. Having loved the famous St-Viateur and Fairmount Bagel bakeries in Montreal, I'd thought that bagels of equal quality would be hard to find elsewhere (especially Eastern Canada)......WRONG. These folks make some amazing bagels in this small shop. The owner apparently used to work for St-Viateur, and sure enough, the quality of the bagels at this Calgary establishment up to snuff.

It is a pretty inconspicuous place with just a few parking spaces out front, it's not really the kind of joint that you drive past, press your face against your car window, and demand to try sometime because of a flashy sign or exciting menu board. It just says Montreal Bagels. And damn straight that's what it is. Once you walk inside, you will see their wood-fired oven in the back, a small display case in the front, a few straggling tables and chairs for sit-down customers (that you never see used), and their plain-jane menu board.

Front of Montreal Bagels

Wood-fired oven and workers in the back

Your options are: plain, sesame, poppyseed, and multigrain. 90 cents a piece, or you can get them by the half dozen ($4.25), or dozen ($8). Tuesday special gets you a dozen for $7. There are also a few other "prepared" sandwich options on the board (with butter, cream cheese, lox, etc), but I don't think I've ever seen a single customer seated at the few tables that are at the front of the store. This is more the type of place where you pop in and out of and enjoy your goodies at home, or in my case, enjoy in the car on the way home (more on that in a second).

Simple Menu Board (Tuesday Special is $7 for a dozen, at the bottom there)

If you show up at the right time, you can snag a bagel that is still hand-searingly-hot-out-of-oven. Yum. And that's exactly what has happened a few times now when I've gone early in the afternoon. The folks that work there are very friendly and they will offer to make up a fresh batch for you if they have just run out of a certain flavor and you are willing to wait 20-30 minutes. Side note: this place is cash-only.

My favorite is the sesame bagel, with the poppyseed as a close second. Whenever I get a superfresh batch, I can't help but eat one immediately in the car because they smell so damn good and are nice and crunchy-chewy and warm. My recommendation for once you get them home is to toast them, smear them with herb & garlic cream cheese (Boursin is amazing) and top with smoked salmon. Delicious!

In the car, tearing into the bag for a fresh-out-of-the-oven bagel

Food 4/5 - Authentic Montreal-style bagels -- such a surprising find in Calgary! Steady supply of fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels available frequently throughout the day. My pick: Sesame Bagel
Value/Price 5/5  ($0.90 per bagel)
Ambiance N/A
Service/Wait N/A
Overall 4/5

Montreal Bagels
103 8408 Elbow Drive SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 212-4060

Montreal Bagels on Urbanspoon

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