At The Table: Quite a bargain — bagels, baked goods and a brighter day at Rotterdam restaurant Bagels & Bakes

A look inside Bagels & Bakes on Curry Road in Rotterdam. The place serves breakfast, lunch and tasty baked goods. Inset: A Tuscan turkey sandwich.

A look inside Bagels & Bakes on Curry Road in Rotterdam. The place serves breakfast, lunch and tasty baked goods. Inset: A Tuscan turkey sandwich.

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ROTTERDAM — What kind of magazine does a cow read? You’re going to have to read all the way to the end about Bagels & Bakes to find out. No cheating.

There’s always a dad joke posted near the register at Bagels & Bakes, the family-owned bagel and bakery place. It’s a small thing, but it provides a smile and brightens your day.

So does a visit. The restaurant is on Curry Road near Altamont Avenue, a busy location and a good one, apparently. My friend Amy noted a medical building nearby, also a walkable neighborhood.

The white building is set back a bit off the road with parking in front and around. Pass through the vestibule into the bright, cheerful space.

And get in line, for Pete’s sake. Just so you know, you order and pay at the counter and then stand off to the side. They’ll let you know when your order is ready.

Stop and smell the coffee. It’s terrific — and the aroma hits you right away. “There’s a nice selection of flavored coffees,” observed Amy. She mentioned hazelnut and Cabin Fever, featuring graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow flavors.

You can join the coffee club or bring your own mug for a reduced-price cup.

Bagels & Bakes serves breakfast and lunch. An egg-only sandwich is $3.49. Get all fancy with the Meat Lovers for only $5.05. I recently had a so-so breakfast sandwich elsewhere for $10, which is crazy. Amy had, too. Not at Bagel & Bakes.

Sandwiches are made with cold cuts that are free of nitrates, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors. Get one on a bagel, hard roll, croissant or gluten-free roll. Ham and cheese or all-white-meat chicken salad is $7.69. And you get a pickle.

House Famous Sandwiches are a bit more, like the Bagel Beast with roast beef, red onions, melted provolone and garlic mayonnaise. Only $8.79.

There are meal-sized salads, like grilled chicken ($7.69). Soups change daily. Have a cup for $4.39, a bowl for $5.99.

About the bagels, they make all the kinds you’d expect plus a few more. A bagel with butter or jelly is $2.39. Topped with lox, cream cheese, red onion and capers, it’s $8.25. They also sell flavored cream cheese.

The baked goods are lovely, and from what we tasted, delicious. The cinnamon rolls are the size of a small plate. There are turnovers, crumb cake, muffins and scones.

Bagels are made from scratch, boiled and baked. Some of the baked goods, such as the hard rolls and cookies, are purchased as dough. A few, like the croissants, are purchased as-is.

I grabbed a menu near the register, excusing myself for cutting into the line. We put in our order and I put my coat down where Amy had chosen a table.

How they remembered and found us I don’t know. The counter is high; you can only see heads. But we were happy to get our food delivered, neatly packed with plastic cutlery and lots of good white napkins.

I started with the cream of broccoli soup ($4.39 for 8 ounces), which was rich and velvety, made from the whole head, including the stem. The soup is from Kettle Cuisine, but they add extra fresh broccoli, cooked but not mushy. It was very creamy and quite delicious.

Here’s a tip: Any leftover soup is packaged and sold the next day. Grab a cup from the refrigerator — they’re sold as “day old soup.” Pick up one for lunch when you stop by for coffee. They were already gone when were there at noon.

Regular customers know this, and there are a lot of them. Amy noticed the variety of folks, students and older people, who patronized Bagel & Bakes. Everyone goes there, and apparently they return.

Amy was quiet, savoring her Tuscan turkey sandwich ($8.79) on a croissant. She said it was “really good, with nice flavor from roasted red pepper and the turkey.”

“Excellent roasted turkey,” she announced. “Also, perfectly thin sliced red onion, flavored mayo, lettuce and tomato.” She planned on taking home half but ended up finishing it.

The smallest quibble she had was with the croissant, more supermarket-type than French bakery. “But everything else was superb,” she said.

Amy enjoyed her medium-sized dark roast coffee ($1.95) that was hot but not all that strong.

I was enjoying the chef’s salad ($7.69). There was a lot to like. First, they’d packed plenty of bite-sized pieces of Romaine lettuce as a base in the bottom of a clear, plastic container, then topped it, neat as a bento box, with the fixings that made a chef’s salad.

Reading from left to right: chopped red tomato and red onion sliced very thin; in the middle, the turkey; beside it the ham; and ending up with both American and Swiss cheese, all neatly cut into small pieces.

They gave me a knife but I never used it. This salad was all ready to eat. People who like meal-sized salads know how rare that it.

The balsamic dressing was a Good Seasons mix, made with high-quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Excellent, and I made a note to try it myself.

I quartered the cinnamon bun ($3.25) and we dug in. Holy cow, it was good: fresh, laminated pastry dough and lots of frosting that seeped into the spaces between the coils of dough. There it met up with cinnamon, and didn’t quite set up. In fact, it leaked a little and made the bottom sticky. Heaven.

If you’ve had a chance to meet Tonianne Avery, you’ll understand why Bagels & Bakes has so many regular customers.

She stopped by our table just to make sure everything was to our liking; 20 minutes later we knew all about her family (two sons), how the place did during COVID (it was tough, but they adapted and the staff was great) and what kind of turkey she buys (Jenny-O).

The tab for the two of us for lunch came to $27.90. A bargain, but no compromises on quality.

Bagels & Bakes sells David’s cookies, baked fresh and delicious. I don’t know how they got the raspberry inside the shortbread cookie, but it was outstanding.

When I got home I offered the last quarter of the cinnamon bun to husband Eric.

“I’ll just take a little piece,” he said. “Melts in your mouth,” he said, reaching for the last of it.

He turned his attention to the chocolate chip cookie Amy stuffed into my bag.

“The chips are still soft and gooey, the cookie is crisp around the edges and nice and soft in the center,” he said.

The next morning I toasted an everything bagel. I liked the cornmeal on the bottom and the texture of the interior, dense but soft enough to use for a sandwich, with chewy, shiny crust. Just the right size. A reasonable amount of everything topping, mostly on the bottom. Very good.

The answer to the joke? A cattle-log. Groan. But I bet you smiled. Just like Bagels & Bakes, it brightens your day. Stop in for some very reasonably priced, delicious food and a smile. You won’t be able to help yourself.

Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Her reviews appear every other Sunday. Reach her at [email protected]

Bagel & Bakes

WHERE: 1927 Curry Road, Rotterdam; (518) 355-6801
WHEN: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday; 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday and most holidays
HOW MUCH: $27.90 for lunch for two, plus a few bucks in the tip jar
MORE INFO: ADA compliant. Credit cards: Mastercard, Visa, Discover. Apple Pay. Plenty of parking in lot.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Rotterdam

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