As you enter Bagelwala!, the first few minutes, we can tell you, will be spent pointing and smiling at the painting of the Balbharti textbook-like delivery boy on the bicycle reaching out to the customer in a balcony. Then there are the classics the founders of the café have stacked in a book case. The menu on the blackboard and the mezzanine which can seat around 10 people (a la Kala Ghoda café, exclaimed one of us) gives Bagelwala! a warm feel, which sure extends to its raison d’être, too.
Plain, poppy, sesame, cranberry – there’s a generous choice of bagels at Bagelwala! which can be clubbed with plain, sundried tomatoes, garlic, herb and jalapeno-flavoured cream cheese (Rs 90). We go easy first, and try the cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. Simple, chewy and warm, the bagel is basic and, thank heavens, doesn’t intend that you OD on cinnamon or bite into so many raisins that you lose the plot.
Next, we try the Lemon Pepper Chicken bagel (Rs 150). The meat and dressing, again, did not overpower the basic flavour, and we like the texture of the meat against the dense bagel. Used to the rush of a million different dressings at Subway? Well, for this one, you’ll have to roll your tongue over simpler stuff.
Chances are that you’ll try Elvis (Rs 120), a bagel loaded with peanut butter, banana slices and Nutella out of sheer curiosity, like we do. If sweet breakfasts are your thing, you won’t mind a jog to Turner Road to get this one after sunrise, but after a few bites we turned rather charitable, passing them around, faces pleading to one another.
The egg and cheese bagel (Rs 120) is the winner of the evening. The generous cheese and the warm, herbed bread makes us want to sink into this bagel without looking up. Have it for the crunch of the crust and that sinking feeling.
Bagelwala! will soon sell homemade peanut butter, mayonnaise and apple-ginger preserve (Rs 275 for 250 gms). The cafe also sells all their flavours of bagels, too. Sanal Nair, co-founder of Bagelwala!, says the bagels need not be refrigerated for two days after purchase. But if you do take away their bagels, do them justice and heat them just right. The poppy, sesame, cinnamon and raisins need their time to work up a surprise. Allow them.