Eight months ago,if you would have asked around for where to get a bagel in St. Louis, you would have received not a recommendation, but the lamentation, "Nowhere. Bagel Factory closed." Seemingly overnight, this changed as several concepts that had been working themselves out for the past few years finally came to fruition. As we wait for the beloved Bagel Factory to reopen under new ownership (those rumors keep hope alive), these five represent the best of our current bagel game — no bread-slicing allowed.
When it comes to bread, Sean Netzer and Ted Wilson can do no wrong. First, they gave us the outstanding Union Loafers in all of its Light and Mild Glory, and now, they are among the leaders of St. Louis' current bagel movement with their excellent Webster Groves shop, Bagel Union (8705 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves). It doesn't get much better than a simple salt bagel with some scallion cream cheese.
What started out as an at-home project to achieve bagel perfection by brothers-in-law Doug Goldenberg and Scott "Lefty" Lefton has resulted in the excellent Lefty's Bagels (13359 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield; 314-275-0959), whose key identifier is the subtle sweetness that barely registers when you bite into this chewy, New York-style specimen.
Owner Ben Poremba wanted Deli Divine (5501 Delmar Boulevard, 314-987-3354) to be a deli, not a bakery, so he outsourced production of his bagels to the only place he could do so to create a traditional, New York Jewish deli experience: the Big Apple. The bagels are parbaked, finished at Deli Divine daily and topped with traditional accoutrements like lox, shaved onion and capers.
C&B Boiled Bagels
Owners Matt and Amy Herren hope to up production at C&B Boiled Bagels (62 East Ferguson Avenue, Wood River, Illinois; 618-216-2269) to the point where they are the go-to bagel wholesaler for St. Louis metro area restaurants. For now, you can get their excellent wares at their Wood River storefront, which is more than worth a trip across the river.
Beloved Delmar Loop coffee shop Meshuggah Cafe (6269 Delmar Boulevard, University City) uses bagels from Companion as a perfectly respectable canvas for delicious toppings, including cream cheese and verdant pesto. It may not be the purest representation of the form, but it's damn tasty.
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