Review: Does Bronx Bagels Really Have New York Bagels in Georgia?
As someone who was born and raised in New York, I often miss some of the food with which I grew up during my formative years — whether it is in the form of Kosher delicatessen or pizza…
Review: Does Bronx Bagels Really Have New York Bagels in Georgia?
…and bialys and bagels are no exception to the foods which I miss ever since I moved to Georgia years ago — so when I heard about an establishment located in Alpharetta which purports to create and sell bagels reminiscent of those in New York, I wanted to try them and put them to a taste test.
“Each and every day BB’s Bagels bakes Authentic, New York, Hand-Rolled, Kettle-Boiled Bagels”, according to the official Internet web site of Bronx Bagels — which is further bolstered by the explanation as to why their bagels are water-boiled: “While steaming might be easier and cheaper, there is simply no substitute for bathing the raw bagels in a boiling kettle of water before baking. This contributes to the shiny, golden, chewy crust that NY Bagels are famous for.”
Aside from the poor grammar, could I have found my utopia of bagels reminiscent of those which I remember? There was only one way to find out — but the lone location of Bronx Bagels is at least 32 miles away from where I am based…
…and I finally had an opportunity recently to sample them, as I was passing by near the establishment recently.
The First Visit to Bronx Bagels
A small mirrored building which seems to be slightly larger than a double-wide trailer home and is reminiscent of a classic diner from the 1950s, the exterior of Bronx Bagels is adorned with shrubs and bushes with pink roses blooming in the spring air — and as the dining area was closed due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, picking up food was generally the only option.
No mechanism exists for ordering food via the official Internet web site of Bronx Bagels; and calling ahead via telephone proved to be unsuccessful, as the line was constantly too busy to get through. I therefore had to wait in the line outside in order ot place my order…
…but unlike a traditional bagel shop in which one can simply walk in, place an order, and leave with a bag of bagels, I had to arrive at a small window through which all orders were taken. I asked for the hottest of three different bagels: plain, pumpernickel, and everything — as well as a bialy. “We only have bialys on weekends” was the reply from behind the window.
The wait from arrival to receiving my order was approximately 30 minutes or so — and when I finally received it, I returned to my vehicle and tore open the white bag to create a makeshift plate.
The bagels were rather large — approximately the size of an authentic bagel from New York — but they were cold. Not room temperature. Cold.
So much for their “hottest” bagels.
I ordered a plain bagel because I wanted to see how the basic bagel fared.
One note of immediate concern for me pertaining to the plain bagel is a discolored streak located near the center hole of the bagel which seemed to resemble the color of mold. I tore that part away and disposed of it.
I then tore open the bagel.
The bagel was approximately the size of my hand; and it tore apart in a way similar to that of an authentic bagel from New York. With its golden crust and distinctively dense chewy inside, the taste of the bagel did remind me of a fresh authentic bagel from New York — albeit one which has been out of the oven for several hours and slightly refrigerated.
The pumpernickel bagel contained caraway seeds, which was a nice surprise. I like caraway seeds, as they add little bursts of flavor with each bite. As with the plain bagel, the pumpernickel bagel was fresh and tasty with a similar texture — slightly crispy on the outside and nicely chewy and dense on the inside — but it was also cold, which is unfortunate, as pumpernickel is one of my favorite flavors of bread or bagels.
The everything bagel had a nice blend of seeds and spices — which included poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onion, garlic, and just the right amount of salt — but despite its similar textures to the other bagels and fresh taste which was comprised of a delicious flavor composition, this bagel was also disappointingly cold.
The cost for the three bagels was $5.72 — despite the bagels supposedly costing $1.10 each, according to this official menu of Bronx Bagels. I find that $2.42 for taxes rather steep to believe, as that would place the sales tax rate at greater than 42 percent. I left a gratuity of one dollar primarily because of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, knowing that workers in the dining profession are having a difficult time — but it really was not worth it.
As I arrived at Bronx Bagels later in the day, I wondered what the products would be like at the time of opening for business — plus, I wanted to try a bialy, which was only available for sale on weekends. I decided to return three days later on a Sunday morning at 7:00.
The Second Visit to Bronx Bagels
Giving Bronx Bagels a second chance, I took my place in the short line outside at 6:59 in the morning on a Sunday. Ten minutes later, I arrived at the small window.
“I would like to order a bialy,” I said.
“We don’t have any bialys,” the man behind the window replied.
I was both disappointed and angry, as the person — and the menu — both lied about bialys being available during the weekend. The last I remember, Sunday was a legitimate part of the weekend. The only explanation I can figure is that Bronx Bagels goes by the Muslim weekend of Thursday night through Saturday night.
“Please give me your hottest plain bagel,” I then said.
I took the white bag back to my car and tore it to create a makeshift plate with it.
The bagel was fresh; but it was lukewarm at best.
Once again, so much for their “hottest” bagels.
I tore open the bagel. Because it was lukewarm, the texture was better than that of the cold plain bagel during my first visit…
…but I was charged $2.29 for this bagel, which was supposed to be $1.10 plus tax. Was I charged $1.19 — or greater than 108 percent — for sales tax? As expensive as New York can be, even bagel establishments there do not charge greater than 108 percent sales tax on bagels.
Strike three. Bronx Bagels, you are out with a genuine Bronx cheer from this Brooklynite.
Alternative to Bronx Bagels
Head on over to virtually any Publix supermarket in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area if you want a genuine New York bagel — or, for that matter, genuine New York bialy — experience. Go to the frozen food aisle where other frozen bread products are located and look for Ray’s New York Bagels, which are available in plain and everything flavors.
When I first saw Ray’s New York Bagels, I thought that I never heard of them or this brand and initially dismissed it as an imitation product which attempted to capitalize on being New York style…
…until I turned the package of six bagels on its side. The bagels are manufactured by Bagels By Bell LTD, which is where I purchased my bagels and bialys in Brooklyn before Warren Bell moved the company to Oceanside on Long Island in New York — and I documented the visit of the facility of Bagels By Bell in this article pertaining to the authentic New York bialy and the authentic New York bagel.
You can also purchase a box of six authentic New York bialys in the same frozen food case at Publix — and yes, they are also manufactured by Bagels By Bell LTD.
Each package of Ray’s New York bagels or bialys cost $4.69 — sometimes they are on sale for $3.69 — and each of the six bagels or bialys is smaller than their counterparts in New York, so the bagels are not as large as those sold by Bronx Bagels…
…but they are still a better deal than Bronx Bagels — at least, by my experience.
Sadly, I must state that I do not recommend Bronx Bagels. Why I was grossly overcharged both times for cold products is something I cannot understand, as I was charged a total of $8.01 for four bagels — which does not include the gratuity of one dollar. Also, to state that something is sold on a certain day — only to arrive and find out that is not true — is unacceptable. Additionally, simply picking up a bagel quickly is not an option.
Bronx Bagels is located approximately 30 miles north of Atlanta off of Exit 12 of Georgia State Highway 400.
770 McFarland Parkway
Alpharetta, Georgia 30004
Open Monday through Friday: 6:00 in the morning through 2:00 in the afternoon
Open Saturday through Sunday: 7:00 in the morning through 2:00 in the afternoon
All photographs ©2020 by Brian Cohen.