Optimistically Cautious

Monday, April 21, 2008

An Exercise in Patience: New York Bagel Cafe

On a blustery Sunday, Mack and I foolishly ventured out for brunch. I had been itching to try the New York Bagel Cafe (8430 Gateway Boulevard NW) for some time, and as we had to be in the Old Strathcona/Glenora area later that afternoon anyway, it seemed like a good idea.

We parked on the corner of Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard, meaning we had to trek through at least one block of fresh snow drifts to reach our destination. I had to laugh at the conditions outside, as I was reminded of my only other brush with the Bagel Cafe - several years ago at the coldest and wettest Fringe I had attended to date, I ended up there to use the facilities and buy a few hot drinks to take back to the stage at King Edward Academy. Perhaps the Bagel Cafe is my personal equivalent to a "bad weather" friend.

When we entered the charming restaurant, we found ourselves third in line to wait for one of the twelve or thirteen tables on hand. Thankfully, the wait was just half an hour, albeit not the most comfortable in the cramped quarters of a very small entryway.

The dining area itself was quite cozy, the white, snow-reflecting sunlight streaming in to light up tables and floors made of aged wood, a brick hearth, and brightly painted walls. The centre bar was rather imposing, and though it carved up the dining area to allow for a private corner of tables, it made the space seem less friendly somehow.

For such a small place, the menu was quite extensive - four pages in total. Bagel platters, breakfast plates and their famous eggs benedicts, even picky eaters would be satisfied. Mack decided to give their omelet ($14), customized with mushrooms and smoked meat, while I opted for their Classic Breakfast ($11), which included jumbo eggs, bacon, home fried potatoes, and a toasted buttered bagel.

While we waited for our food, we were a bit worried after seeing a sign tacked up on the wall. It read: "Please understand that good food takes time to prepare...enjoy a drink and the ambiance while you wait." This sentiment was reinforced on the menu: "Please note that modifications to menu items may not be made as it will slow the kitchen down, please respect the menu the way it is." Though the warning did make the lag time expected, neither of us thought our food would take nearly an hour. Moreover, the Cafe doesn't serve drip coffee (cash grab or simply removing the burden of refills from already over-taxed waitresses?) - so coffee drinkers be aware - unless you're prepared to slap down another $4 for a second cup, enjoy your mocha/latte/espresso slowly.

When our plates did arrive (steaming hot, thank goodness), it was evident that presentation was a New York Bagel trademark. The layers of fruit were artfully arranged, the eggs had been garnished with care, and the bagel itself was carefully stacked at an angle. My scrambled eggs were wonderfully creamy, and the smoked meat in Mack's omelet was delicious. The home fries on the other hand, pan fried with what looked like sea salt, was much too salty for both our tastes. And the bagels? Mack's cheese variety was much better than my sesame, but for its namesake food item, they could have been mistaken for those taken from a local grocer.

Between the weather, the wait and the expense, I'm not sure I will be back at NYBC soon. But perhaps on another chilly day in the future, I will find myself at the Cafe door just looking for a warm place to hide out.

Interior (family friendly - lots of high chairs)

A multitude of tabletop condiments

Moca ($3.75) - perfectly sweet, like hot chocolate with just a hint of coffee

Espresso-based House Coffee with steamed milk ($3.25)

Omelet with a cheese bagel, fancy fruit garnish and home fries

Classic Breakfast with a sesame bagel, scrambled eggs, bacon and home fries

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Blogger Vitality said...

Have you tried the breakfast buffet at River Cree? It's not as fancy as the bigger hotels but for $10 you can made to order omelette, the usual breakfast food, fresh fruit, yogurt, baked goods, toast your own bread/bagel, and coffee/juice.

Most casinos have cheap breakfast to entice people to play! Actually, Baccarat Casino has good food for lunch/dinner too.

April 22, 2008 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I had no idea it was so cheap! I guess my aversion to breakfast buffets is the simple fact that I can't usually eat that much in the morning. A few friends and I went to the brunch buffet at La Ronde a few years ago, and there was no way I made up for the $23 I paid.

But $10 is definitely reasonable. Thanks for the recommendation!

April 23, 2008 at 7:23 PM  
Anonymous egirlwonder said...

Just came back from a really good brunch at the River Cree Casino... It wasn't cheap, but pretty darn great. The carvery included prime rib, lamb chops, hallibut in a "saffron" sauce, and a delicious salt-crust salmon. Other more breakfasty dishes were pretty great too. The whole place did remind us of Vegas - which is a good thing indeed!

August 31, 2008 at 2:55 PM  

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