1217B N. Hamilton St. * 487-4630
Located near Sharp and Hamilton, just behind Arny's and next to Starbucks, the Ultimate Bagel is a late-morning hangout for bleary-eyed Gonzaga students who obviously had been up late the night before industriously part.... um, studying. First clue: Fashion statements fall along the lines of flip-flops, wrinkled sweatshirts and bed-heads. Second clue: The decor runs to clippings of G.U. basketball articles (as in, every single one ever published). The Ultimate provides a non-threatening environment for those who hunger and thirst and just missed their biology midterm. Service is appropriately cheerful without being perky. (If you're going on three hours of sleep, you don't want perky.) -- MB
Onion Bagel and Lox
Traditional bagels and lox (cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, red onions and tomatoes served on an open-face bagel of your choice) present a problem that has two mutually exclusive solutions. Both are delicious but imperfect. The problem is the capers. You can either put them on top, and have a nice presentation -- green to contrast with the pink and red of the salmon, onions and tomatoes -- or you can bury them in the cream cheese, which gives you a chance of actually getting a caper or two in your mouth. The Rocket on Cedar goes pretty, Ultimate Bagel goes practical. As of today, I'm a huge, huge fan of practical. Aesthetics are overrated anyway.
(80 & cent;)
I want more than "Everything;" I want my bagels slathered. Yet when it came to schmearing technique, I had to play Robin Williams to Luke's hapless, effeminate Nathan Lane. (The twit clearly didn't know the first thing about conquering helpless bagels with manly swipes of a plastic knife.) Their salmon spread (for an added charge) imparts a salmon flavor without being overbearing. The bagel itself was large, satisfying, a meal in itself. If not quite Everything I had ever dreamed of in a bagel (being doughy, somewhat bland, and a bit hard to chew), it was still a good reason to return to the Ultimate and relive what it's like to live a life organized around the semester system.
(80 & cent;)
To be the ultimate purist, what better way to assess the essence of Bagel than to munch up a plain one with no sybaritic toppings? First, this bagel passed the critical "heft" test, smacking nicely into the palm after a short toss. It was fat, chewy .... mmm, perhaps leaning a shade more toward airy than dense. But then how dense is it to describe the experience of eating a plain bagel? Look, can you guys just pay me now? Am I done here?
2530 E. 29th Ave. * 535-1146
Great Harvest Bread Co. is a surprisingly buzzy place in a Lincoln Heights strip mall, nestled in between Rosauers and Hastings -- or maybe that's not so surprising, considering all the coffee and sugar. Great Harvest can be a lively place filled with conversations among school kids, young lovers and gray-hairs. People gather at the small tables for the enticing pastries and good coffee in the mornings, sandwiches later. There are good breads of all varieties made on-site ... as are the bagels on Fridays and Saturdays. A bonus: Visible just behind the display cases are the bakers themselves, kneading vast gobs of dough on aircraft-carrier-sized tables. -- KT
Sesame Seed Bagel
(90 & cent;)
Great Harvest makes a dense bagel, and a chewy one, but I can't get over how hard this bad boy was. Deride me for not being a bagel purist, talk (if you must) of the age-old processes of true New York bagel-making, which yield donut-shaped bricks of black hole density, but check this: I've been to New York, I ate myself stupid on their bagels, and I never once -- not once, dear reader! -- had a bagel this hard. I tried it plain. I heated it up. I tried it with butter. I pulled the remnants of my cream cheese samplers from Ultimate Bagel and chased it with a dollop of garlic herb. Nothing worked, but I persevered, took it slow, and, nearly an hour later, I won, dammit. I won.
(90 & cent;)
No matter where you go, it seems, when it comes to bagels, "Everything" denotes little black poppy seeds and pale sesame seeds, along with dried onion and garlic flakes. What, no pumpernickel? No rye, dill or caraway? No sardines? Great Harvest is especially generous with the poppy seeds. All in all, this was a hearty bagel, thick and chewy. In fact, my impromptu comparison of two establishments' "Everything" creations has to end in a draw. Around here, we apparently like our bagels hefty and filling.
(90 & cent;)
Chewy, toothsome and never hard enough to scrape the top of your mouth, Great Harvest bagels are my favorites. Just ask my former colleagues in Coeur d'Alene about hauling a big bag over for staff meetings. (And, pssst ... getting bagels over the state line? E-Z, my friend, E-Z.) So what takes this bliss to a higher plane? Why, the addition of spice and fruit. The scent of cinnamon wafting from a warm bagel is heaven, and the sweet raisins packed inside make you smile. All in all, a manly bagel with plenty of heft.