While I have devoted reviews to specific bagel places, I figured I could bang out three in one shot here. Like the other “Takeout Joints” volumes, the scores here are based a little bit differently. How could a bagel compare to, say, a fine dining experience? Well, it can’t (not even for a die-hard bagel aficionado like myself!). So a lower score here does not necessarily mean a poor experience. But you can read the review itself to realize that.
Sheepshead Baygels (Holmdel)
This spot with a fun play-on-words has no tables. Just pop in, grab your food, and get out. I don’t really have a problem with it, but considering their rather large sandwich menu, and decent options for breakfast besides the usual, it would be nice to eat-in. That said, such an observation or wish does not factor into the final score. The workers here are some of the friendliest you will ever encounter. I had never eaten here, despite living in the area more than 20 years. However, a recent move brought us closer and so I find myself frequenting here about once a week. I’m not a breakfast guy, but I do crave a bagel some mornings.
My usual is the toasted everything with butter, however, like Eli’s in Aberdeen, I find theirs to just be a little too salty. So here, I switch over to a sesame. Their bagels have such a different texture than bagels anywhere else. Radically different, actually. The outside becomes like a shell during the boiling/baking process. Most of the times, it is crunchy. But sometimes it can be a bit difficult to chew. Sandwich and catering options are excellent, though I found a turkey sub here to be just average for the price (around $9) they were charging. To end on a positive note, at least they knock one of my pet peeves out the park: the coffee is actually hot. No need to microwave when you get to your destination. 3 out of 5 stars.
Atlantic Bagel Company (Atlantic Highlands)
Stopping at this place on Saturday mornings on my way to the museum has become a ritual. Yes, my creature of habit mentality means the same toasted everything with butter. Most of the bagel places I have reviewed so far have been good, sometimes great. But they tend to lack something. Some are too salty. Some do not have enough flavor. Some are too soft. Others too hard and crunchy. Atlantic manages to get it just right. The bagel is pillowy, but this is still a slight crunch when biting in. The garlic flavor is not too overpowering and they put just enough butter that it does not get greasy when traveling in foil. I’ve also had some of their other deli sandwiches (and been with friends who have ordered breakfast items on a bagel or roll) over the years, and they are substantial. There is even a separate cheesesteak menu that I must hit up sometime, and a bakery section containing muffins, cinnamon rolls, and the like. Note: this place does have plenty of tables in case you want to eat in. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Time for a Bagel (Morris Plains)
I found myself up in Morris Plains today, which is an area as foreign to me as the landscape of Mars. I was there for a work training and we had some time to explore the surroundings for lunch. I just typed the word “bagel” into Google Maps and it said this place was less than a mile away. Why not give it a try? I pulled up and Time for a Bagel just looked adorable. I could tell by the sign, and then the interior, that this establishment was ancient. It looked like a nice old joint, maybe a former neighborhood Jewish deli. They had a decent amount of options and since I was hungrier for more than my usual, went with turkey, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo on an everything. It came with a pickle and I added a cup of coffee. The grand total for all of this was $8. Not too bad considering the massive amount of contents packed into the bagel. Maybe it could have come with a small bag of chips?
In fact, the bagel was not large enough to support the turkey and toppings. But I made due to the best of my abilities. Sure, some of it fell out, but this was a decent sandwich. I can’t say the bagel on its own was anything to write home about, but as a whole, I was satisfied. This really was a cute little restaurant and probably the first time I have ever thought to use the word “atmosphere” to describe a bagel shop. Plenty of indoor seating and a few outdoor tables as well. Service was pleasant and expedient. I was able to get out of there in about 25 minutes, which included eating time. 3.5 out of 5 stars.