Absolute Bagels- Upper West Side, NYC

Everything bagel with chive and garlic cream cheese $4.50 
Pumpernickel bagel with lox spread $4.50

Absolute Bagels was absolutely average at best. We were already off to a bad start when I spotted the sign hanging above the counter declaring that toasting a bagel would cost an extra 30c. Seriously? I can’t help but feeling very British when I say “It’s not about the money, it’s the principle!” But it’s true, I’ve never seen that offensive sign anywhere else in New York City. It appears they charge extra for everything and anything. You want to switch out the cream cheese? That’ll be extra. You want tomato and onion? Extra. Where are you going with all those napkins? Yup, extra. Breathing too loudly? Ma’am, that’s also extra. 

Being Sunday, there was predictably a sizable line snaking out the door and onto the sidewalk. Thankfully we have this uncanny ability of joining queues just before they become unacceptably long. The saving grace of waiting in the cold was a HUGE Great Dane “puppy” playing with a ‘real sized’ dog. The 6 month old giant backed away every time the terrier got too close, this situation entertained us and every passerby for a solid 15 minutes. In all honesty, he would not look out of place at the Midtown NYPD horse stable. 

By the time we got to the front of the queue, we didn’t even feel like ordering our standard lox & cream cheese ensemble. We kept it simple and kept it cheap by choosing basic cream cheese flavours instead. Once you’ve negotiated the chaotic counter, have twice confirmed your order, have parted with your grimy green bills (cash only) and are clutching a brown paper bag, it’s time to try your luck at the seating game. It’s a haphazard space. Even if that table in the corner happens to be free, it’s unlikely you’ll actually be able to reach it due to the maze of furniture blocking your path. The live plants on the windowsill were a nice touch and being able to get Thai iced tea with your bagel is a unusual bonus. However those two positives unfortunately cannot outweigh the negatives. The store lacked personality, as did the workers customer service. The bagel itself was average, bit on the small side, heavy on the salt and sadly, really really heavy on the cream cheese. Not worth the subway ride for sure. 

All in all, I’m super disappointed with my bagel experiences in the Upper West Side so far. I do have other places jotted down on my list, so for now, there is still hope that the UWS can deliver. To be fair, it’s a huge neighbourhood that stretches the length of Central Park and I have explored but a fraction of it. My past sojourns have entailed a visit to The Natural History Museum, the plethora of farmer & flea markets and maybe my favourite, the legendary Levain Bakery. In all seriousness, if cookies are one of your vices, Levain Bakery cannot be missed on a trip to NYC. 

Fingers crossed my next trip to the Upper West Side for bagels has a more delicious outcome! 

2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025