By STEVEN DeSALVO
For Montclair Local
I cannot think of a quick, inexpensive breakfast that is more satisfying and delicious than a hot, freshly made bagel sandwich. Few things are more desirable on cold winter mornings than the effervescent mixture of melted cheese, fried eggs and your preferred breakfast meat.
Bagel sandwiches are practically synonymous with New Jersey. People agree that the best bagels come from this area, and Taylor ham (a pork product that looks like Canadian bacon, but with a higher fat content) was created in New Jersey. (Of course, a classic Jewish bagel wouldn’t have bacon on it at all).
The problem we face, if you can call it that, is that it is easy to get overwhelmed with options.
What kind of bagel? Eggs: fried or scrambled? Meats: Taylor ham, sausage, or bacon? Hash brown? Ketchup? Salt? Pepper? The amount of possible combinations is unbelievable! That’s why I needed to sample as many varieties as possible to better understand the bagel sandwiches Montclair has to offer!
I began at Hot Bagels Abroad at 150 Valley Road, then moved on to Sunrise Bagels at 29 Watchung Plaza, and finally ended up at Beyond the Bagel at 219 Bellevue Ave. Each establishment has a slightly different style to its sandwich that exemplifies how differently this food can be interpreted.
1. Hot Bagels Abroad
Here I opted for the bacon, egg and cheese served up on a French toast bagel, which is an egg bagel generously coated in cinnamon and powdered sugar. The bagel had the perfect density, firmer than a regular bagel (because of the egg), and the flavor mixture of salty, sweet and smoky makes this sandwich an exceptional culinary experience. The cheese is melted onto the eggs on the flat top grill, allowing it to intermingle with the bacon and the bagel—a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
2. Sunrise Bagels
At Sunrise Bagels, I decided on a sausage, egg and cheese on a rainbow bagel. The choice of the rainbow—dyed in several shades with food coloring—was purely cosmetic. The sausage blended with the eggs and the two slices of yellow American cheese on each half of the bagel leads to a melted cocoon for the eggs and sausage. What surprised me was that the sausage was the most forward and flavorful meat of any I sampled.
3. Beyond the Bagel
The final stop in this caloric journey ended in Upper Montclair, with Taylor ham, egg and cheese on a garlic bagel, with salt, pepper, and ketchup. I must admit that I am biased towards this iteration. The cheese is toasted on each half of the bagel, which is a nice change from the typical style. They also use three slices of Taylor ham, thinner than usual, so it takes on an excellent crispiness that counteracts the soft egg and cheese. All of this goodness, sandwiched in between a garlic bagel, makes for a great ending to my favorite type of fact finding.
In this column:
- Hot Bagels Abroad, 150 Valley Road, 973-655-0400
- Sunrise Bagels, 29 Watchung Plaza, sunrisebagels.com, 973-783-8500
- Beyond the Bagel, 219 Bellevue Ave., 973-655-1199
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