"Good Bagels Only” – Bagel Kitchen has a specialty, and a sign to prove it. Some mornings you’ll see a long line to the counter of hungry hopefuls looking for their indulgent, cheesy carb fix, whether it’s a classic like an everything with veggie cream cheese, or one of the sandwich creations. House-made bagels are the main event here, and there’s something for everybody.
I’m not one to get complicated with bagels. Walking in with a purist’s taste, I tend to opt for the simpler things: poppy seed, asiago, sourdough or salt. Their blueberry bagels pack a fruity punch too, and come enhanced with strawberry or honey walnut cream cheese. There are muffins, croissants, gluten-free bagels, and cream cheeses ranging from jalapeño to sun-dried tomato to bacon and chives.
And then there are the sandwiches. So, so many sandwiches. Breakfast sandwiches, vegan sandwiches, traditional sandwiches (think tuna salad or BLT) and a lunch menu with burgers, fried chicken and even fish tacos. And no, the tacos do not come on bagels, as a few items just fit better with wraps, tortillas and brioche.
One such item is a wrap of housemade garlic hummus, rolled up with a rainbow of tomato, onion, avocado, cucumber, lettuce and sprouts. It’s not what you’d expect from a bagel and coffee shop, yet it’s light, refreshing and lets you feel like you’re making a healthy decision in a sea of filling options – for example, the reuben. On that one, heaps of hot pastrami, melted Swiss and sauerkraut come on your bagel of choice, topped with a bright orange French dressing. This may be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of sandwich, as it leaves a very meaty then almost sweet impression.
Also very flavorful is the Meet Me in New York. Pick your bread again and it’ll arrive with a layer of plain cream cheese, tomato, onions, capers and sprouts, plus a small mountain of smoked salmon. It’s messy, but worth it.
Messiness may be a theme at Bagel Kitchen that could use a little tidying up. Though no one is upset at too much cream cheese, virtually every sandwich came seemingly carelessly thrown together, or at least lacking in sturdiness. The only one that didn’t fall apart was the bacon, egg and cheese.
This appeared to be an attention-to-detail problem, and not the fault of the ingredients, which theoretically should work. Even the plain standard came with cream cheese bursting out and wiped all over the outside of the bagel.
And though some of the staff were friendly, the ordering system can feel brusque. One cashier completely ignored me as I stood at the counter trying to buy a cup of juice. He helped the woman next to me, and then moved onto something else without acknowledging my obvious existence. It was enough to put me off.
Still, that’s a hit or miss which could be remedied by some training – as could the presentation. If you pay attention to flavor alone, it’s enough to warrant another visit, even if for good bagels only.
BAGEL KITCHEN 1132 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. 6am-3pm Mon-Fri; 7am-3pm Sat-Sun. 324-4330, bagelkitchen.wixsite.com