126-128 Golders Green Road
Tel: 020 8455 3063
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, 3 December 2006
The Victims: Me, myself, and I
The Damage: £1.60
The Background: I have been thinking of bagels non-stop this week. You see, the Benugo on City Road has some pretty tasty bagel sandwiches, and I was enjoying my turkey and avocado bagel earlier in the week and found myself thinking….there’s got to be a place significantly dedicated to bagels somewhere in this city. Yes, yes…I know about the Brick Lane Beigal Bake. But I crave more variety. And really, what I’ve really had a hankering for is SALT. I LOVE salt bagels.
So I scoured the Internet and came up with a few potentials, the majority of which find themselves in Golders Green. Field trip!
Combine this with a later-than-expected evening with my Brazilian friends where I perhaps enjoyed one glass of champagne and two glasses of port too many, and the lure of the potential salt bagel was too much to resist. My body craved salt, and my heart craved Long Island. I hopped onto the functioning Northern Line and headed, well, north.
The Approach: I like Golders Green already. They have an Asian supermarket and if I had had my backpack with me, I would have stocked up on large bags of wasabi peas. I love wasabi peas. But I was on a mission. I wanted a bagel and high(er) blood pressure!
I found Carmelli’s and it was packed! There were people from my country there…I wasn’t the only one to have made the trip in search of bagel nirvana. I searched around and saw photos of bagels, but no bagels themselves. But then I spied them–there, behind the counter in big big baskets. Hundreds of them, just waiting for me. I was in the right place.
Bagels seem to be just a small part of what Carmellis does. There were a lot of bread and baklava and little cookies. I felt like I was back on Long Island. Part of me wanted to order up two pounds (i.e., 1 kilo) of cookies just for old times’ sake. But again, I was on a mission and cookies were not the target.
The Food: You order your bagel with cream cheese, lox, etc. over in one corner of Carmellis. They give you your food and a ticket and then you head over to the register to pay. (I wonder how many have left without paying? Indeed, the counter navigation could use some work.) So I quickly placed my order (behind the other person from my country) and was handed a plain bagel with cream cheese. £1.60 later, I found myself out on the sidewalk, desperate to dig in.
My disappointment in the lack of salt bagels was momentary. You see, I took one bite, and it was perfect. I wanted a bench to enjoy it on, but was sadly denied. (Carmellis, you could be made better by benches.) The consistency of the bagel had just that right amount of toughness to it. Contrary to what many people are taught to believe, bagels are not just donut-shaped-bread. They go beyond bread. There’s something more to them. They’re dense. Tough. Firm. And good cream cheese? It’s not the shiny Philidelphia variety. It’s gritty. Thick. Sandy, almost. This was good cream cheese. And this was a damn fine bagel. I was very happy. I was so happy, I ate my bagel without taking a picture of it.
The Constructive Comments: Maybe my memories of bagels on Long Island are too rosy. But when you ordered your bagel back in the ‘hood, they put the cream cheese on it for you right then and there. There was none of this pre-made cellophane-wrapped stuff. I was slightly disappointed that when I ordered my bagel with cream cheese, they handed me one (of the many) that were already sitting there and ready-to-go. Would it have killed them to toast it up for me and add some cream cheese on demand?
Also, I would have appreciated more variety in cream cheese. Veggie and scallion being my particular favorites. I know I’m not on Long Island anymore, but a girl can hope, can’t she?
The Verdict: I loved my bagel and cream cheese. I’ll be back for more. Does Carmellis deliver?