Two happy breakfasts from Golden Bagels
In my particular breakfast universe, there are few options more attractive than really good smoked salmon on a serious bagel, set upon cushion of cream cheese with capers and slivered red onion to make the flavors pop.
If I can have that morning avatar with a cup of well-made flat white — the double-shot espresso drink in which the frothed milk pour yields the micro-bubbles that make for an even, velvety texture — well, then I go from happy to delighted.
Which was how I felt when my order arrived at Golden Bagels & Coffee, the young Heights establishment on White Oak that has been such a neighborhood hit since it opened in January.
The sandwich looked gorgeous, its house cold-smoked Nova salmon gleaming with a high-gloss rose/persimmon hue. The poppy-seed bagel I had chosen was handsome, too, paved with tiny black pinpoints over nearly the whole of both shiny surfaces, so that it looked like a hand-made mosaic.
The taste? Spot on, from the slick, dense-yet-soft salmon to the resilient heft of the bagel, and even unto the plain cream cheese spread that was served without the dreaded refrigerator chill.
I am not a fierce bagel connoisseur, but the bagel texture seemed legit to me: stretchy enough to get your teeth into, but not defeatingly so. I seem to remember the bagels from the celebrated New York Bagels coffee shop on Hillcroft having a slightly more satisfying heft and bite, but Golden’s seemed perfectly nice to me, even at 1:30 p.m., when it had been sitting around for a while.
Yeah, it was a late breakfast. I’m enough of a night owl that Golden’s morning start time of 6 a.m. (7 on weekends) is an unlikely goal for me.
Golden’s flat white was as rich and round as could be, too, as befits a cup made under the auspices of local coffee-roasting pioneer Avi Katz. (He co-owns Golden with attorney Glenn Goldstein). And a tiny cupful of fresh fruit salad served with the sandwich acted like dessert, which cushioned the $15 price.
I lingered awhile in the clean, crisp room, enjoying a verdant corner view past the covered patio; the textures of the distressed concrete floor and the shiny white subway tiles; the vivid swirls of the the “Golden” mural by muralist Wiley Robertson, a favorite here in the Heights.
I wondered, too, about the owners’ expressed intentions to introduce cured and smoked Gulf fish to their repertoire. So far, they haven’t. It’s a great idea, and it might mollify the lament I have heard that Golden serves no whitefish salad. Folks who are passionate about their bagels are, almost inevitably, equally passionate about what goes onto them.
When I left, toward the 3 p.m. closing time, I took with me a very respectable sesame bagel, plus some very bland (but very fresh) egg salad, and a side of captivating dill-and-scallion cream cheese spread.
The bagel held its own the next morning, somewhat to my surprise. That made two happy breakfasts in a row.