Flatiron Lunch: Gezunte Bagel for…um…Bagels, and Not Much Else
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
Not being able to attend the Yom Kippur break the fast I was invited to this year left me craving whitefish salad on bagel. It’s a combo I love, but don’t think to get unless it is placed in front of me. I remembered previously walking by a Kosher bagel cafe in the Flatiron, so I decided to take care of the craving. (Hey! You, reader, about to type, “Whitefish salad??? Are you kidding me?” in the comments section, don’t bother. We can agree to disagree on whitefish salad.)
Gezunte’s other name when you search for them is “Books and Bagels”, which explains the décor…to some extent at least. For such a small space, Gezunte still feels very sparse with just a small counter for the food and a few tables. Two back walls hold a smattering of Kosher products (gallon sized tubs of what look like Mayo, massive tins of tuna, pickled items, etc) and Judaica (books, plates, goblets, etc.)
Of course, when I arrived at Gezunte, what were they out of? Whitefish salad. Having heard the ladies ahead of me asked about the source of the Jerusalem bagels (Chantilly bakery, in case you are curious – the pastries too) and stated that they are the best in the city, and not able to get my whitefish salad, I ordered a toasted Jerusalem bagel with tomato and Munster cheese ($5.00). I don’t think I ever heard of a Jerusalem bagel before, but liked the look of it, with sesame seeds so dense you can’t see the bagel.
On my first bite, I noticed the amazing outer crunch from the thick layer of sesame seeds, the fact it was thinner than a normal bagel and it was toasted on Panini-ish press. I even occasionally picked up bites of crisped cheese, but the sesame seeds were the predominate flavor. If you are planning to eat at your desk, be prepared for the sesame seeds to pop off the bagel all over your keyboard! Dangerous stuff.
Once I got in my head that I wanted whitefish salad, I couldn’t abandon my goal. In fact, I started stopping in or calling Gezunte almost every other day for over 2 weeks to wait for the “delivery ” of whitefish salad to come in. One of the early times I stopped by they were closed for a Jewish holiday after Sukkot. This is a warning to all of you to call to make sure they are open, and they have the item you want.
When they finally had the whitefish salad (from Capricorn), I made a beeline to make sure I got some before they ran out. Why didn’t I just head to Pick A Bagel on 23rd and 3rd or any number of places in the area originally? I’m stubborn, maybe?
I ordered a toasted sesame bagel with whitefish salad and red onion ($6.00). The bagel was more dense than the norm with a nice chewy texture. Since they are likely to be fresh everyday, maybe I should have skipped the toasting.
The whitefish salad was relatively mild, without being fishy or bland. It also had elements that were savory and others were sweet. They did a pretty good job slivering the onions, but then piled them all in the middle of the bagel. Also, if you prefer to eat bagel sandwiches open faced, be warned that they put all the spread on one side, so you might have to do some rearranging. They also have smoked salmon salad which doesn’t really interest me because if I’m going to eat salmon, I would rather have lox on top of cream cheese. Which makes me wonder, is there such a thing as sliced whitefish on a bagel with a schmear? If yes, where can I get it? And is it any good?
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Thank you for satisfying my whitefish salad craving!
- I want to find out more about Jerusalem Bagels. Looks like a sesame bagel ramped up.
- Their system of toasting works for all sandwich types.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- With the measly offerings that aren’t even consistent, how is this place still in business?
- Whitefish salad isn’t that rare or special – it shouldn’t be a struggle for regular deliveries.
- A bagel with schmear is not worthy of a post. It’s not even lunch!
Gezunte Bagels (aka Bagel and Books), 121 West 19th Street Between 6th and 7th Aves, (212) 633-4330