Albany NY and Capital Region Restaurants

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bagel Bite

This morning a friend and I went to Bagel Bite on Delaware Avenue. Its a place I've heard a lot about, driven by a few times, but have yet to dine there. Usually I end up at Johnny B's diner or when I'm feeling especially generous (or the cash flow is in the black), I'll go by Madison's End Cafe.

Bagel Bite is tucked away on a stretch of Delaware Avenue between Delmar and Albany. It features a parking lot and also offers sufficient street parking. There is seating for about 60-70 scattered across a number of 2 and 4-top tables.

The dining room was completely full upon entering. We were greeted by one of the 2 servers working the entire (!) floor and were seated. The place has a nice charm to it and its obvious how it has developed quite a following. Its the type of place you'd want to unfold the newspaper, enjoy a cup of coffee and a light breakfast. Unfortunately, considering how busy it was, and the poorly staffed dining room, you couldn't help but make it into Section B of the paper before your order was taken. I'm sure this was only a consequence of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

The menu features "typical" diner breakfast offerings, including omelettes, egg sandwiches, pancakes and french toast. There's also an extensive deli menu, grilled sandwich menu, and, what Bagel Bite calls its "Mediterranean" dishes. Each dish was priced between $7-$13 and frankly I didnt feel like experimenting at that cost.

I settled on the Challah-French-Toast ($5.95) and a cup of coffee ($1.50) and my dining partner, who'd been there before, ordered a grilled vegetable sandwich accompanied by a side of potato salad ($7.95). The French Toast doesnt provide any sides which are each ordered a la carte.

Despite how busy it was, the order was processed relatively quickly and light conversation made the time pass faster. In the meantime I observed other diners and concluded that, irrespective of my experience this morning, I must try the pancakes and a turkey sandwich. The pancakes were golden brown and had the appearance of being light and airy. The turkey sandwich was freshly roasted (according to the menu) and piled high on what looked like a bulk roll.

The French Toast was served on a large platter, although it only provided three rather meager looking slices of bread. The color was a bit lighter than I would like and didnt appear to have been soaked in the eggy-creamy custard batter for too long. Also, rather than being accompanied with a bottle of warm maple syrup, or even those IHOP-styly tableside syrup, it was served with a ramekin full of those pre-packaged syrups that are always too sweet and refined-tasting (BB-1). I understand that BB may be trying to control portion size, but in my opinion, this cheapens the experience. The custard/batter was missing "something" -- perhaps a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or just salt.

My dining partner also offered me some of the grilled vegetable sandwich. It included roasted peppers, eggplant and onion, dressed with a "dijonnaise"-type dressing on "grilled" rye bread. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and seasoned, although I'd probably pass on the dressing which was way too tart for the sandwich. (BB +1). My main complaint, however, was the greasiness of the "grilled" bread. (BB-1). It was like they soaked the sandwich in butter and then cooked it on the flat-top. The sides of your mouth felt like you just ate a dozen buffalo wings without any napkins. In fact, as I write this I subconsciously just wiped my mouth.

Overall it was a decent-experience. One of my main complaints (hoping not to sound too "cheap") is the "no sharing" policy they have installed at BB. In order to share a dish, BB adds a $2.00 surcharge to the already pricey menu cost. In my opinion, there is no restaurant in Albany (or really anywhere) that can justify this practice.

As with other restaurants I've reviewed in this blog, I'll definately be back -- to try their pastrami or roated turkey. With the bread "dry" of course.

Final score: BB -1.

Bagel Bite
544 Delaware Avenue
Albany NY 12209


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