The Bagel Czar

This morning my RSS reader had an exciting entry. The Fan District Hub pointed me to Melissa Ruggieri’s review of a nascent bagel joint smack in the heart of VCU’s Monroe Park campus. This was awesome – something closer than Cupertino’s but serving their bagels. Even if the Bagel Czar didn’t make their own (unfortunate, but not the end of the world) at least they sourced them wisely.

Now I care far less than Ruggieri about the decor of my bagel purveyors. I’m not sure what background (and I don’t mean to doubt it) makes her a “bagel snob” and I don’t want to sound contrarian, but nearly every worthy bagel shop I’ve entered from Delaware to Manhattan is a little on the plain and utilitarian side. Sometimes even hole-in-the-wall. What matters is the bagels, and here’s where things started to disappoint.

Having tasted Cupertino’s wares a number of times, I’m doubtful these bagels were their work. While the West End deli and bagel shop isn’t quite like the Tri-State area, they at least have that slightly crispy skin on the outside with a slightly chewy interior. The Bagel Czar, on the other hand, was a bit too chewy for my taste the whole way through. It’s not simply the subjective evidence that makes me question the origin of these bagels, though. Their own website has the following message in the title bar of the browser: “Bagel Czar: serving authentic NY H&H bagels to the greater Richmond community.” So I asked the gent behind the bar this morning where they procured their dough and he told me that it’s not even H&H anymore. The bagels were apparently too small and – surprise – couldn’t stay fresh that long coming all the way from NYC. So they switched to some distributor whose name he couldn’t quite recall for sure; either “Walther” or “Walter” or some such place, and he didn’t know where they were located.

Is it possible that at 7:30 AM the wage employee didn’t really know who dropped off the food? Sure. Is it possible Cupertino’s owns a truck with some other name on the side? Sure. But if these are indeed their bagels, then I have greater cause for disappointment since it would mean the quality is slipping.

Granted, the bagel I had wasn’t terrible. I like to test a new place by trying a plain bagel with butter (or an egg bagel if they make them – sadly, not at the Bagel Czar, but available at Cupertino’s), and this was decent. Look, if you’re a student who can’t hoof it out to Cox Road for a worthwhile bagel, this place beats the crap out of whatever Kroger has to offer. But if you can and are willing to drive a little, the Bagel Czar isn’t worth your time.

UPDATE: The proprietor of Cupertino’s told me that the Bagel Czar does, indeed, carry his bagels. I dunno if perhaps they don’t always have fresh stock (and I haven’t exactly returned), but unless I’m desperate for time, I’d rather make the trek to the Far West End and get them from the man himself.

15 thoughts on “The Bagel Czar

  1. @LP: I don’t know what bagel shops you’re familiar with, but…1. Bagel Czar is hardly a yuppie joint. It’s pretty much an overly large dive that happens to resell somebody else’s bagels.2. I never new bagels were yuppie food. Since when are bagels yuppie supplies?



  4. I don’t think his Caps Lock key is busted; I think his Shift finger must have something sticky on it.

  5. Weimen’s makes some mighty good bread, for a southern bakery. They make the bread used in the Copolla’s restraunts (sp.) which is generally amazing, but not always. I’ve had a couple of subpar rolls. I’m not sure if Copolla’s didn’t get their shipment that day or something. Do they have a storefront? The bakery on 17th alway looks like a boarded up shack when I see it.p.s. interesting Dan that this has drawn so many comments. People are passionate about baked goods. Well, I’m glad, cause they should be.

  6. you sound like an elitist jerk.”Is it possible that at 7:30 AM the wage employee didn’t really know who dropped off the food?”well obviously.

  7. @Gatsby: Sorry you feel that way after reading my post.It takes a great leap of logic to say that somebody “sounds like” an elitist jerk after reading a post like this.Besides, wage employee is descriptive. The guy wasn’t the manager. He was a young kid making an hourly…um…WAGE. I’ve been there anyway, dude, working in food service, or grocery stores, or digging holes in the ground. I’ve no disrespect for anybody who still does.But if you knew me well enough to make an actual judgement call about me, you’d already have known that, too.

  8. “Besides, wage employee is descriptive. The guy wasn’t the manager. He was a young kid making an hourly…um…WAGE.”i didnt say anything about your choice of words. i think wage employee is rather creative!i just thought it was funny that you stated the wage employee didn’t know where the bagels came from. you said so yourself that “he wasnt really sure”then you stated, “Is it possible that at 7:30 AM the wage employee didn’t really know who dropped off the food?”i just thought it was funny! right after you said he wasn’t sure where they came from,you ask if its possible that he didnt know where they came from.not only is it possible, but it sounds like it happened!i dont know. just being silly i guess.i love their curry cream cheese

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