A bagel is a simple, yet extraordinarily complex staple of the contemporary American diet.
Simple, because it is … bread. Made from yeasted wheat dough, with a heritage in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, a bagel comes to life after being first boiled, then baked, with the result a crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside vehicle for eggs and various fishes and meats and of course schmears of butter and cream cheese.
Complex, because the difference between an OK or disappointing bagel and a truly memorable bagel is readily apparent to the nosher. A good bagel can be heavenly – a sublime experience for the happy (usually) morning eater. Yet … just how one can transform a lump of dough from wonder bread-like blandness to real-thing New York City deliciousness is an unknowable mystery to civilians like us.
How does one create a tasty treat out of such banal ingredients?
The good news for customers of the newly-opened Original Hot Bagels in the Pike Creek Shopping Center is that this outfit seems to have mastered the old school ways of bagel making. Crisp exteriors, fresh chewy centers, distinctly hand-molded (not factory) shapes.
The not-so-good-news for customers is that they will need to be patient as the latest and third location for the local bagel chain is still finding its footing after an opening that drew more hungry bagel eaters than their product inventory could supply. This is indeed what would be considered an urgent problem for an outfit that has bagels in its name and basically needs to do a brisk, uninterrupted business through noon each day.
Unfortunately, this past Saturday was not a “hot” start for the Pike Creek restaurant, which makes its bagels at a Newark location and has a storefront shop on Main Street as well.
On this particular Saturday morning, the place was humming, and once inside it appeared there was a large group waiting for their orders. On approaching the counter we learned that only multi-grain bagels were available, but a new supply of other bagels was en route from the Newark ‘production’ store, just five minutes away. So we went ahead an ordered, stupidly as it turns out, several bagels to go of various kinds.
Alas, 35 minutes later our order still had not been called. This was not surprising given the chaos behind the counter – faced with a near-zero supply of their eponymous product, an increasingly-agitated group of fellow customers waiting on orders and the apparent lack of any manager to handle the confusion unfolding at 10 am on a Saturday morning.
After checking yet again with the staff after this painful wait, we were told our ticket was nowhere to be found. On top of that, the multi-grain bagel we grudgingly ordered (the only bagels in the case when we arrived) was now sold out. And the additional cinnamon raisin and plain bagels we ordered which were to be delivered from the other location were now also sold out.
We left with an egg bagel and an everything bagel (toasted and topped at home) — just enough to share the flavor of our experience — and Ben LoPresto’s opinion — with you.
“I’ve been here every day since they opened on January 3rd,” said LoPresto, 34 from Wilmington. LoPresto was holding his 11-month daughter as he nibbled on an egg and cheese sandwich. “I’m probably the perfect person to interview about their bagels. I’ve been waiting for weeks for this place to open, and it’s delicious. Not your typical boring bagel. It’s got a nice taste to it. The griddle for the eggs is fantastic – that’s what makes this sandwich so good.”
There are also a variety of cream cheese toppings, (like raisin nut, strawberry and jalapeno) and other returning customers said the hot breakfast sandwiches are terrific. The Original Hot Bagels also serves omelets, salads and sandwiches.
LoPresto said that despite the hiccups and delays in service today, a tasty bagel spot in Pike Creek is welcome news to area residents. It’s been five years Fabulous Bagel Boys closed their business in the same shopping center. “As you can tell with the crowd here today, a bagel place was definitely needed,” he said.