Spread Bagelry


Our city is a culin­ary cap­it­al: Chef Georges Per­ri­er is known throughout the world; Marc Vetri and Mi­chael So­lomonov have won James Beard Awards; and Jose Garces is an Iron Chef.


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Our city is a culin­ary cap­it­al: Chef Georges Per­ri­er is known throughout the world; Marc Vetri and Mi­chael So­lomonov have won James Beard Awards; and Jose Garces is an Iron Chef.


However, there is one food that, un­til sev­er­al weeks ago, you could not find in the city: An au­then­t­ic ba­gel. I searched high and low. I found fake ba­gels in Queen Vil­lage and baker­ies that shall re­main name­less on the Main Line. I call these at­ro­cit­ies preg­nant Mar­ilyn Mon­roes — they’re fat, dish­wa­ter blond in col­or, bereft of tex­ture and of­ten lack a hole in the cen­ter.


For months I have been wait­ing for Spread Ba­gelry to open. The In­ter­net was abuzz that Larry Rosen­blum of Cen­ter City and Mark Cos­grove of Elkins Park were to open a Montreal ba­gel res­taur­ant.


Huzzah! Real ba­gels can now be found near Ritten­house Square.


A little his­tory is in or­der be­fore I tell you to run, not walk, to Spread Ba­gelry if you have been de­prived of real ba­gels for years and years.


Montreal ba­gels are made-by-hand, treated to a hot-wa­ter bath, laced with a little bit of honey and baked in a wood-burn­ing oven un­til deep, golden brown on the out­side and chewy in­side. I’ve eaten ba­gels in Montreal and they are, like our ori­gin­al as­tro­nauts, the real thing. 


I made sev­er­al vis­its to Spread Ba­gelry. I ap­peared on open­ing day and placed my or­der at the counter where I re­ceived a big ceram­ic cof­fee mug to fill with rich, dark La Colombe cof­fee ($2). You may drink as much of this splen­did blend as you wish. The line was out the door, but I didn’t care. I was sal­iv­at­ing with hope that my lunch would take me to my child­hood when ba­gels were real.


I ordered a clas­sic everything ba­gel with cream cheese, smoked nova, plum to­ma­toes and Vid­alia onions ($9). Rosen­blum places his prized ba­gels in a red plastic bas­ket lined with wax pa­per. I found it dif­fi­cult to eat this way be­cause I like to eat my ba­gel and nova open face. There was little room to re­arrange my lunch but no mat­ter. One bite and I was din­ing on Jew­ish soul food at its finest. I thought it funny that the eat­ery in­cluded a kosh­er dill pickle in­stead of cu­cum­bers and Greek olives, which I al­ways serve with ba­gels and smoked fish.


I walked in­to the back­room and slid onto a ban­quette. The table was an ad­or­able, small, round piece of gran­ite — the kind found in old-fash­ioned ice cream par­lors. I for­got to bring a book but lady luck was on my side. Rosen­blum and Cos­grove provide news­pa­pers, books and magazines for your read­ing pleas­ure.


On an blustery, rainy Sunday morn­ing, Ed­ward dropped me off at Spread Ba­gelry where I pur­chased a few everything, a ses­ame seed and a poppy ba­gel. Ba­gels are $2 a piece but worth every cent. They are made by people, not ma­chines. 


Com­mer­cial white­fish salad can be too salty, mushy in tex­ture and con­tain too much may­on­naise. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Rosen­blum be­cause he hit the mark. It is pricey — $8 for half a pound. It is, in my es­tim­a­tion, the finest you can pur­chase any­where. Rosen­blum told me they fil­let jumbo white­fish at the res­taur­ant and blend it by hand. In oth­er word, they make it them­selves.


Ba­gel with white­fish salad, to­mato and onion is $9 if you eat it at the res­taur­ant.


I am fa­mil­i­ar with Acme smoked fish in Brook­lyn, N.Y. Many res­taur­ants buy their nova, reg­u­lar lox and white­fish salad from them. Rosen­blum said he pur­chases his smoked fish from Ban­ner in Coney Is­land, N.Y. I did some culin­ary sleuth­ing and dis­covered this com­pany treats their fish to a cold smoke us­ing maple wood. This is why the taste and tex­ture of the fish at Spread Ba­gelry was so di­vine.


The res­taur­ant is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ac­cord­ing to the menu “our spreads are homemade — us­ing sea­son­al, loc­al farm fresh and or­gan­ic in­gredi­ents whenev­er pos­sible.”


Three ex­traordin­ary tips of the toque to Spread Ba­gelry. SPR


Spread Ba­gelry


262 S. 20th St.

215-545-0626

www.spread­ba­gelry.com

Con­tact the South Philly Re­view at ed­it­or@south­phil­lyre­view.com.


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You can reach at pstein-novack@southphillyreview.com.